Skip to main content


water scarcity image

Securing water for sustainable development is crucial. Nearly all member countries suffer from freshwater scarcity, with 18 out of 22 Arab States below the water poverty line of 1,000 m3/person/year. Salinity affects surface and groundwater resources, particularly in agricultural areas and above coastal aquifer systems where most of the Arab region’s population is concentrated. Added problems include climate change, water-related disasters, population growth, urbanization and changing consumption patterns. To complicate matters further, more than two thirds of surface and groundwater resources are shared between various States.

About 15 per cent of the Arab population (estimated at 364 million in 2012) does not have access to good drinking water, and 18 per cent lack decent sanitation facilities. Water shortages, high energy costs associated with pumping, insufficient storage capacity, or damage and destruction to water networks are common problems for many communities. Conflict, occupation and humanitarian crises impede access to basic water services.

These pressing challenges require a united approach. To that end, ESCWA supports the efforts of the Arab Ministerial Water Council to implement its Arab Strategy for Water Security in the Arab Region to Meet the Challenges and Future Needs for Sustainable Development (2010-2030). It also advises the Arab Permanent Committee for Meteorology, the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, the Gulf Cooperation Council and member States.

Key areas of concern to SDPD include:-

  • Implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development 
  • Shared water resources management
  • Monitoring water supply and sanitation services
  • The water-energy-food security nexus
  • Climate change assessment and adaptation
  • Capacity-building, technical assistance and institutional strengthening

For further information, please contact the Chief of the Water Resources Section, SDPD.