The cost of desalination has been plummeting over the years. As a result, desalination has become a viable option for certain strategic uses. Today, over 20,000 desalination plants in more than 150 countries supply about 300 million people with freshwater every day. Initially a niche product for energy rich and water scarce cities, particularly in the Middle East, the continued decrease in cost and environmental viability of desalination has the potential to significantly expand its use - particularly for rapidly growing water scarce coastal cities.
Ethiopia’s enormous pastoral population is estimated at 12 to 15 million people, the majority of whom live in the arid or semi-arid drylands that cover about 60 percent of the country. Following the famine of 2003— that left one-fifth of Ethiopia’s population without food and tens of thousands dead from starvation—USAID used the funding for the famine response to initiate the Pastoralists Livelihoods program to improve and strengthen the status of this population. This established the foundation and basis of our interventions in these regions.
Due to its geographical location and to the natural features of its climate, the MENA region figures historically among the most water scarce areas of the world and water management issues have always represented significant challenges. However, the region now faces an increasing and alarming water scarcity due to the growing pressure on water resources induced by the economic development and demographic growth.
Increasing demand for agricultural crops has put an increased strain on limited freshwater resources in Jordan and Palestine. The area currently has shortages in freshwater and an abundant supply of saline water which has not been utilized for agriculture due to the economics associated with pumping and desalinization mainly from limited availability to electricity and high running cost of the alternative diesel generators.
Following repeated large-scale humanitarian emergencies in the Sahel Region USAID recognized that continuing to treat these recurrent crises as acute emergencies is extremely costly and does not effectively address their underlying causes. Thus, USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative realigned existing and new humanitarian and development assistance efforts to strengthen resilience in agro-pastoral and marginal agriculture livelihood zones of the Sahel.
West Africa’s Sahel is an arid band stretching 1.1 million square miles from Senegal to Chad with limited annual rainfall. This zone has a combustible mix of deeply rooted chronic poverty, food insecurity, recurrent drought, scattered conflict, and violent extremism that drives the same vulnerable communities into crisis year after year.
Jordan is recognized as one of the ten most water deprived countries in the world. Domestic water use in Jordan is among the lowest in the world, and barely meets basic household needs for sanitation, cooking, and cleaning. The influx of Syrian refugees living in host communities and refugee camps is further draining the limited water supply.
SWP’s expert panel discusses issues surrounding water scarcity at D.C.’s Wilson Center.