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News IFAD supports efforts to develop an Arab water security strategy

Water scarcity and climate change were once again the main topics of discussion during the well‑attended Second Arab Water Forum held in Cairo, Egypt, from 20 to 23 November 2011.

The Forum underlined the importance, in a region that is getting warmer and drier, of resolving the issues of increasing water scarcity and climate change through innovation, science, investments and integrated water management and technological solutions. It also reiterated the need to strengthen knowledge, exchange information and recognize the fundamental role of water and food security in ensuring a stable political and economic future for an Arab region that is currently going through dramatic social and political transition. 

Participating for the second time in the event, IFAD’s input included a multimedia information stand at the Forum’s exhibition, illustrating the Fund’s long experience in addressing comprehensive water issues in rural areas of the Arab region. The stand was extremely well received by participants and delegates and on the second day was visited by His Excellency Dr Mahmoud Abu Zeid, president of the Arab Water Council and former Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation.

At the first session, dedicated to the theme of securing basic human needs, Dr Taysir Al‑Ghanem of IFAD delivered a presentation on the lessons learned from IFAD's food security portfolio. Dr Al‑Ghanem highlighted the successes of IFAD programmes, in particular the West Noubaria Rural Development Project in Egypt, which encouraged the rural and urban unemployed and university graduates to “go rural” by taking up agricultural activities in rural areas that generated new income opportunities, increased local economic output and reclaimed desert land.

A number of hot topics characterizing the water sector in the Arab countries were also addressed in specialized workshops organized by the attending organizations and participants; IFAD held its own panel discussion on the socio‑economic and policy dimensions of rainwater harvesting. The panel was composed of Mr Mohamed Abdelgadir and Dr Taysir Al‑Ghanem of IFAD, Mr Ard Schoemaker of the RAIN Foundation and Dr Abdel Aziz Ibrahim of the Arab Water Council.

The panel discussion touched upon various aspects of rainwater harvesting, such as its adaptability to climate change, production scalability and other advantages, in addition to the limitations of related project implementation in rural areas. All panellists agreed that rainwater harvesting must be an agenda priority of policymakers and that awareness, investments and information-sharing must increase to ensure a wider adoption of rainwater harvesting as a sustainable and environmentally‑friendly solution to water scarcity in the Arab region. The recommendations, solutions and commitments assembled from the panel have been passed on to the Arab Water Council to be presented in the upcoming Sixth World Water Forum in Marseille, France, and Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012.

The Second Arab Water Forum concluded with a declaration calling for closer regional cooperation as an indispensable element in achieving water and food security. Water issues are of the utmost importance in the development and security strategies of Arab countries. The declaration also called for Arab countries to bring into play more non‑conventional sources of water such as water reuse, rainwater harvesting, desalination and innovative storage solutions. Finally, problems compounded by climate change should be addressed through innovation and science, backed up by a single, integrated regional water data and information centre that is kept up‑to‑date and is accessible to all those making decisions and policies.

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News type Inbrief
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Source of information IFAD
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News date 16/02/2012
Working language(s) ENGLISH