Ecology and Environment

The Question of a Water Crisis in the Middle East

The Middle East (ME) is the most water-scarce region of the world. As the region’s population continues to grow, per capita water availability is set to fall by 50% by 2050. Many of the Millennium Development Goals rely entirely on unfettered access to freshwater. Currently aquifers are over-pumped, water quality is deteriorating and water supply and irrigation services are often rationed. With an increasing number of countries facing severe water shortages, efficient use of water by agriculture to reduce poverty and hunger is a significant issue. Most international development agencies and water managers, such as UN-Water, Global Water Partnership and World Water Council, now agree that better governance of water resources, rather than availability, is the key to resolving the growing water crisis in developing countries. The instability and conflict in the region complicates the issue of safe, sanitary and equal water distribution in the region.

There are 3 categories for ME countries according to what water management challenges they face:

  • Variability – These countries have adequate quantities of renewable water but throughout the year there are variations in water level and distribution. Thus the primary trouble for these countries is internal distribution.
  • Hyper-aridity – These countries have consistently low levels of renewable water resources. Therefore they are compensating by using up non-renewable groundwater reserves and desalinating brackish water. This category includes a mix of high and low capita countries.
  • Transboundary water – In this category the renewable water resources of the country cross international borders. Any decisions taken upstream can affect their water supply and so international water treaties are key to avoiding water crises in these countries.

Therefore there is no solution to this problem, instead the solution will need to be tailored to suit each category of country.


The Question of Favouring Sustained Aid Subsequent to Natural Disasters

A natural disaster is a disaster resulting from the natural processes of the Earth. In these situations loss of life, housing and livelihood can be devastating to a country’s economy. Whilst emergency aid is essential to provide food, water, medication and shelter to the displaced survivors of a disaster, only sustained aid will help a country recover fully from the devastation of the event. Sustained aid helps reduce a country’s dependency on aid: in Rwanda aid as a percentage of government spending has dropped from 85% in 2000 to 45% in 2010.

EcoEnvThere are many examples of the UN and its agencies needing to offer aid to areas struck by natural disasters including:

  • 2010 Haiti Earthquake
  • 2011 Drought in East Africa
  • 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Both types of aid have different purposes and the committee seeks to establish whether sustained aid should be favoured and supported by the UN and its establishments. In many of these cases the lack of sustained aid led to the slow pace of recovery in communities.