In most Arab countries, water has become a critical natural resource. Water resources originating from the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile rivers are very limited and shared among many countries. In addition, 16 Arab countries are classified as receiving less than or equal to 250 mm of rainfall annually. In fact, long-term average precipitation ranged from 18 mm/year in Egypt to a maximum of 900 mm/year in Comoros and 661 mm/year in Lebanon (2013-2017).[1] Renewable water resources per capita reached 699 m3 in 2017, compared to a World average of about 7,252 m3 per inhabitant, placing 13 out of 22 Arab countries in the category of severe water scarcity at less than 500 m3 per capita.[2][3]

 

According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation, the proportion of population accessing safely managed water services varied at the regional level from 99 percent in countries such as Kuwait and Bahrain to 48 percent in Lebanon, according to latest available data.[4][5] Nearly, 52 percent of the population in Sudan relied on basic water services (within 30 minutes round trip collection time), 31 percent relied on limited water services (within 30 minutes round trip collection time) and 14 percent used unimproved water services in 2017.[4][6] On the other hand, the proportion of population accessing safely sanitation facilities ranged between almost 99 percent in Kuwait to 18 percent in Algeria and 22 percent in Lebanon, according to latest available data.[4][7] Open defecation is still practised in few countries in the region, as in Mauritania at 32 percent and Somalia at 28 percent.[4]

 

In a region inhabited by 428 million people[8], food security remains a major concern. The Arab region continued to suffer from the largest food deficit region worldwide, with a growing food gap between domestic production and consumption that increased from USD 18 billion in 2005 to USD 34 billion in 2014.[9] The region continues to face low agricultural productivity, due to limited economic resources, limited investment in technologies, limited crop patterns and climate change implications.[9] More specifically, crop productivity is considered low, with cereals yield amounting to 2,024 kg/ha in 2017, almost half the world average of 4,074 kg/ha.[10]

 

With the prevalence of protracted armed conflicts, scarcity of natural resources and recurrent droughts, more people and children have been facing the risk of undernourishment. As such, the prevalence of undernourishment increased from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2016. In conflict-hit Yemen and Iraq, the prevalence of undernourishment levelled at 34.4 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, in 2016. According to latest available data on stunting (between 2013 and 2016), highest prevalence rates were found in Yemen at 46.5 percent and Sudan at 38.2 percent. Along the same lines, the highest prevalence rates of wasting were reported in Yemen and Sudan at 16.3 percent.[10]



This overview has been updated by the ADP team based on latest available data as of July 2019.


Source:

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2016. AQUASTAT Main Database. [Online] Available at: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/data/query/index.html?lang=en [Accessed 1 July 2019].

[2] ADP Team computations based on figures extracted from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2016. AQUASTAT Main Database. [Online] Available at: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/data/query/index.html?lang=en [Accessed 1 July 2019] and the

[3] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 1 July 2019]. 

[4] The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2019. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP), 2017. [Online] Available at: https://washdata.org/data/household#!/ [Accessed 2 July 2019]. 

[5] WHO/UNICEF define a safely managed drinking water as an improved water source that is accessible on premises, available when needed and free from faecal and priority chemical contamination. 
[6] According to the WHO/UNICEF, an improved water source includes piped household connections, public taps or standpipes, boreholes or tube wells, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater, tanker trucks and bottled water; unimproved sources include unprotected dug wells and unprotected springs.

[7] Safely managed sanitation is defined by the WHO/UNICEF as the improved facilities which are not shared with other households and where excreta are safely disposed in situ or transported and treated off-site.

[8] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 2 July 2019].

[9] Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), 2017. Arab Environment in 10 years. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.afedonline.org/webreport2017/afedreport2017.htm [Accessed 2 July 2019].

[10] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=wdi-database-archives-(beta)​ [Accessed 2 July 2019].



Water and Food Security Statistical Snapshot 2018
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Data Highlights

  • Renewable water resources per inhabitant in the Arab Region reached 650 m3 in 2014, compared to a World average of about 6,000 m3 per inhabitant, placing 13 out of 22 Arab countries in the category of severe water scarcity at less than 500 m3 per capita.

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Publications