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Multinational conference addresses water crisis in Yemen

In : 1/18/2011

Written By: Yemen Observer - Newspaper

Mohammed al-Kibsi & Shuaib M. al-Mosawa
Article Date: Jan 17, 2011

A special conference was held in Sana’a on Saturday January 15 through 17 for water resources development management in Yemen. It is organized by Saba Center for Strategic Studies, the Ministry of Water and Environment,

the Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with German Fund for Social Development and the German Office for Technical Cooperation “Giz”.

 Senior Yemeni statesmen along with NGOs are looking into ways that can adopt an integrated water resources management through the three-day conference organized by Saba Center for Strategic Studies in the capital, Sana’a.
Prime Minister, Ali Mujawar  said his government included the water crisis within the Ten Priorities that President Saleh called for.

Hussein al-Amri, SCSS’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, said Yemen is designated one of four counties in the world as absolutely water short with per capita annual availability around 120 cubic meters while the minimum water requirement per capita for food and drinking is 1600 cubic meter.
Al-Amri said studies indicate that the total annual national water renewable water resources are 205 BCM while annual abstraction is 304 BCM, which means 0.9 BCM of groundwater is depleted. Based on the SCSS accounts, the deficit in water in some of Sana’a basins reaches about 200% every year.
During The National Conference for Management and development of Water Resources in Yemen, it was revealed that the amount of water used in agriculture is currently about 91% with 40% for Qat irrigation.
Al-Amri noted that the population growth rate in Yemen is one of the highest rates of population per year, which requires a showing of a comprehensive strategy to achieve water security. The conference, attended by professional across the Arab world, concluded several recommendations the aimed at resolving the water crisis in the long run.
The Saba Center for Strategic Studies’ Director, Ahmed Abdulkarim Saif al-Masa’bi pointed out that the objectives of the conference is for the study and analysis of the water problems in Yemen and water management  for coming out with scientific and practical solutions for this problem.
He stressed that the water in Yemen is one of the greatest challenges facing the country, which reached water poverty level where the daily individual’s share varies from 150 to 300 ml, whereas the international average in is 7500 m and the water poverty level is 1000 ml.

Al-Masa’bi mentioned several reasons that are behind the water problem including the accelerating population growth, change in water consumption habits and dealing with the available water resources in terms of arbitrary deep wells digging which depleted ground water, in addition to the inequitable wasting to resources especially in agricultural fields that tend to cultivate crops that consume great amounts of water such as the mango. The gat cultivation consumes 30 percent of the water resources in Yemen in addition to the haphazard uncontrolled dams building.
He proposed raising the tariff price for the water bill by the amount of use, for the economic consumption rationalization efficiency whether in home, agricultural or at industrial levels,   as it is happening in most of the water rich European countries, so as to reduce water problem in Yemen. He also called on the government to prevent the importing of rigs, to prevent the indiscriminate drilling and consider water as a sovereign   source that should not be drilled without a license.