RIYADH: More efforts are needed to confront water challenges in Arab countries, the Kingdom’s minister of environment, water and agriculture has said.
Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli was responding to the UN’s World Water Development Report. He said it contained concerns and shortcomings about the water sector, especially in areas suffering from scarcity of water resources, as was the case with most Arab countries.
More efforts aimed at confronting water challenges, such as conducting the necessary studies, valuing the sector, rehabilitating infrastructure, employing available opportunities, and exploiting energy and industry are required, he said.
The Kingdom is one of the driest regions in the world, lacking flowing rivers, and most of the water used came from non-renewable groundwater, he explained. Strategies and plans for the sustainability of water resources to implement major water projects - such as wells, fields, desalination plants, dams, strategic storage facilities, and transmission and distribution lines-were all in the works, he said.
The country’s experience in water management was highlighted during its participation in Cairo Water Week.
The event’s theme was “Water, Population and Global Changes: Challenges and Opportunities,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The ministry’s vision in the water sector included the preservation, development, sustainability and rationalization of water resources,” said Al-Fadhli. “This was evident in the National Water Strategy 2030, which aims to enhance the sources and security of water supply, make optimal use of modern technologies, reform the service-delivery sector and involve the private sector in an institutional framework that includes water production, transportation and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, reuse, and sector governance and regulation.”
The minister said that, in terms of rainwater harvesting, Saudi Arabia is conducting studies to establish 1,000 additional dams in all the Kingdom’s regions, to be added to more than 564 existing dams, with a storage capacity of over 2.6 billion cubic meters to serve various purposes, such as feeding water-bearing aquifers, irrigation, reducing floods, and filling part of the need for urban use.
“Some of these dams have purification plants, 46 of which are currently being built with a production capacity of 740,000 cubic meters per day, used for drinking water supplies in several Saudi regions,” he added.
Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Aziz Al-Shaibani said the report emphasized the value and importance of water, especially for countries with dry climates that suffered from water scarcity.
He said its most prominent feature was its comprehensiveness in terms of geographical coverage.
It tackled vital issues related to the water sector and highlighted the most critical challenges facing it.
He made the remarks during the launch of the report’s Arabic version.