Water preservation takes on a special importance in the UN-ESCWA region, which is considered an arid to a semi-arid region. Ten out of thirteen UN-ESCWA countries are among the poorest 15 countries in terms of water resources. Inhabitants of this region, who represent 2.5 per cent of world population, receive less than 0.4 per cent only of renewable water resources yearly. Water is therefore at the heart of conflicts that riddle the region, especially that 80 per cent of water resources come from outside the region, which paves the way for conflict-eruption among neighboring countries. Increased water demand in the region is brought by population growth and competitiveness among productive sectors over it.
Lack of adequate sanitation represents an even graver issue in rural and urban spots alike in low-income UN-ESCWA areas. In certain places, 80 per cent of the population suffers from the lack of basic sanitation, which allows water-born diseases to spread in most cases. Often, women and children are mostly at risk of contracting them.
UN-ESCWA's role is in working with countries of the region to mainstream the use of water, encourage cooperation and coordination among riparian countries on shared water, encourage regional and other initiatives for capacity-building and raising awareness on the Integrated Waters resources Management (IWRM), as well as promoting new technologies for desalination.
UN-ESCWA has worked on drawing up studies concerning shared aquifers in the Arabian Peninsula, the Basalt aquifers between Syria and Jordan, and the Al-Kabeer river basin between Lebanon and Syria. It also coordinates efforts to spread awareness on dispute and conflict resolution in member countries, as well as trust building and improving negotiation skills on shared water resources.
UN-ESCWA, on another level UN-ESCWA has co-founded the Arab Integrated Water Resources Management Network (AWARENET), which gathers a network of regional professionals in the field of water, to spread nest practices in the use of water resources, the network now counts 124 centers, research institutes, and universities from the Arab region. UN-ESCWA also founded, in cooperation with the German Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit- GTZ) an association for Arab Water Utilities (ACWUA), which promotes regional cooperation in the water and sanitation sectors, and exchange expertise to improve the efficiency of water utilities and communication among officials at the regional level.
In addition, UN-ESCWA puts together studies and reports on the subject, the last of which being the Second Water Development Report “State of Water Resources in the ESCWA Region”, which assesses the state of water in UN-ESCWA countries, and makes recommendations concerning the right use of water resources so the water scarcity quandary does not expand and reflect negatively upon the futures and peoples of the region.
To consult the report: http://www.escwa.un.org/information/publications/edit/upload/sdpd-07-6-e.pdf