Water Crisis in UAE

Introduction

Water crisis refers to the situation where the available water within a geographical location cannot meet the needs of the population in that location. This prevalent situation has drawn attention in most countries due to its severity to humanity. Despite the fact that the earth is covered by seventy percent of water, only four percent of this water is fresh.

The rest is saline. Additionally, out of the fresh water, sixty-nine percent consists of glaciers, while the rest is available as surface or underground water. As a result, only one percent is available for direct human consumption, which is relatively less than the human demand (Jennifer, 2010).

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This condition necessitates many countries to embrace the option of underground water or desalinization to sustain the ever-increasing demand for water. Similarly, climate change considerably contributes to the worldwide water crisis. Due to global warming, the level of water loss on the earth’s surface increases especially in tropical regions. This with other factors leads to water crisis.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), water crisis is on the rise with the increase in population. With the rapid growth in population influenced by the booming economic activities within the country, the need for clean and safe water increases surpassing the supply. The country’s climate, characterized by little precipitation because of high temperatures and low humidity, contributes to the water crisis.

The temperatures, which fluctuate between 400C and 200C during the year, significantly influence the long run average precipitation. The country’s precipitation levels are an estimated to be 80 mm per year (Environmental Agency, 2010). This situation is alarming especially in consideration to the growing population. The country has resorted to other forms of water generation such as desalinization and underground water mining to meet partially its water needs.

Nevertheless, the people’s culture of water consumption is linked to the water crisis. It is estimated that an individual in UAE spends about 500 liters of water in a day, while the average consumption on a worldwide scale is approximately 250 liters per day. On this note, it is vital to ascertain the major contributor of water crisis based on the controversy of nature and humanity causes in UAE and other parts of the world.

Background

Water crisis is known as the scarcity of water that can support humanity, agriculture, energy generation, industries, and general usage. This phenomenon has been adverse in most nations dictating the need for the addition of the valuable resource. The continuous increase in population is one of the contributing factors. In UAE, since 1962, after the full exploitation of oil, the country continues to receive a massive population growth because of immigration.

This population provides the needed labor in the commercial exploitation of oil and other economic activities. With the small percentage of arable land and low precipitation in the country, it is considerably important to develop water alternatives that meet the peoples’ needs. Since the country has little amounts of surface water, it focuses on the extraction of underground water and desalinization in order to sustain the growing water demands.

Similarly, the economic proceedings in the country have facilitated the appropriate means of supplying water. Regardless of the government’s efforts, there still exists a huge gap between the amount of water supplied and its demand. Therefore, the study focuses on the factors that influence water crisis in UAE with regard to humanity and nature.

In analyzing the water crisis, the study seeks to establish the role that nature and people play in contributing to the phenomenon. In this regard, conclusions will be drawn based on the major contributor, which has escalated the water crisis in UAE.

This implies nature will entail factors such as the level of precipitation and availability of surface and underground water, which enhance the adversity of water crisis in the country. On the other hand, people will refer to analysis of the level of water utilization in activities such as agriculture, electricity generation, and consumption. Therefore, one can establish the major contributors to the water crisis.

Literature review

Ali (2010) comments that “the consumption level of water exceeds the available sources” (91) while Boberg (2005) asserts that “water is one of the resources that is scarce” (112) made an analysis of the water crisis in UAE based on the water stress in the region. Ali and Boberg clarified water stress as the imbalance that exists between the amount of water needed and the available useful water. They utilized the water stress index for the rating of water crisis.

Nevertheless, they failed to take into consideration various factors like the potential sources of water such as desalinization. On the other hand, the analysis of Mehmet (2000) portrays “the severity of water crisis is attributed to industrialization which consumes and pollutes available water” (p.76) but never addresses the role of nature and people regarding water stress.

According to Environmental agency-Abu Dhabi (2010), “breakthroughs in desalination technologies are responsible for the climate change in UAE” (p.101) depicts how climate change has affected UAE. While the Environmental Agency (2010) reported, “Middle East regions experienced an annual increase of temperature from 38oC to 40oC” attributed to global warming.

In addition, the amount of water available on the surface as well as underground has declined. This implies that there are possible chances of increased severity of the water crisis. Despite the fact that other sources of water are disregarded, there are indications that the prevailing situation in UAE is due to climate change as per the Human Development Report (2006).

Jain and Singh (2010) claim that “climate changes influence the level of rainfall, which contribute to water crisis.”(p.251), and Jennifer (2010) attributes that “failure to address strategic water management has been the lead cause of water crisis.”(p.185). In addition, Waterbury (1997) asserts, “with the high rate of industrialization, water stress has been on the rise” (p.234), concurring with them.

In their reports, they discuss the various factors that contribute to water crisis such as climate change, industrialization of countries and strategic water management policies.

In this case, they attribute the water crisis to emanate from the various environmentally destructive activities. While World Bank Report (2007) considers that “economic activities in the Middle East countries leads to decline in rainfall from approximately 100 mm per year to 80mm per year” (p.172). Thus, climate change affects the underground water. Considering the availability of other sources of water, none was mention concerning their impacts on water crisis.

World Bank Report (2010) reveals, “Seawater desalinization is the leading source of fresh water” (p.127). Similarly, Landrais (2010) recommends, “the Middle East countries ought to go for desalinization of water to sustain the growing water demand” (p.268). Therefore, addressing desalination activities in the Middle East countries depends on the countries’ ability to adopt the process of desalinization as a source of water.

Through this process, the countries will considerably tackle the water crisis. UAE Report (2008) affirms, “The need to sustain water demands is a real challenge with the growing population” (p.305). In spite of this undertaking, there is a shortage regarding the water use leading to crisis, which arouses the debate of nature or humanity in the case.

Discussion and results

Initially, water crisis stimulates creativity and innovation. The impacts of water crisis in a country depict the importance attached to water. In UAE, Water, which is used for various purposes such as consumption, agriculture, energy generation, and industries, contribute to the economic growth of a country. As a result, the country embarks on countering water crisis effects to ensure economic prosperity. For this reason, the country looks for non-conventional sources that they can exploit in order to meet the people’s demand for water.

Some of these sources include desalinization and reuse. In the process of desalinization, the extracted seawater is converted to fresh water in the desalinization plants. This source of water adds a significant volume of water, which is necessary for consumption and other economic activities. Additionally, since the costs of desalinization are high, the country adopts reuse procedures to supplement other sources.

Secondly, with the resolution of water crisis, the country’s economy will advance since production will increase and the living conditions for the citizens will improve. These developments would sustain the need to look for a variety of water sources that counter water crisis during harsh climatic conditions. On individuals’ perspective, water crisis poses a challenge of adopting means of conserving the valuable resource.

As a result, the consumption levels would be moderate. This implies that with the increase in population size, the country would be able to sustain its population in relation to water demands. Based on the prevalent water crisis in UAE, citizens have been able to appreciate the need to conserve water and utilize it appropriately. Similarly, industries have developed measures that facilitate wastewater reuse. This contributes to an increase in the total volume of water useful for similar purposes.

Another crucial importance of water entails electricity generation, where water plays a key role in the country. It is possible to enhance the country’s production processes with the availability of water and its sufficient supply. This implies that the management of water crisis is significantly important to the progress of the country.

Similarly, various agricultural activities, which supply the population with the necessary food or raw materials for industries, can only be successful with the availability of sufficient water. Therefore, the two activities could be undertaken simultaneously by using the wastewater from industries for irrigation purposes. In UAE, this concept has been applied comparatively well and the attempts for water management have been considered.

In the search for the appropriate strategies to counter water crisis, there are a lot of demerits associated with it. Some of the crucial impacts include environmental effects during water extraction and the health of the population. Water exploitation from other sources apart from the surface and underground water involves a lot of environmental pollution.

For example, water desalinization leads to environmental pollution through the waste materials released such as smoke and salt. These pollutants cause environmental degradation resulting in climate change.

Climate change affects the availability of water by interfering with the precipitation level and temperatures of a region. Hence, countries would lose fresh water from the surface and underground sources. This considerably hinders other economic factors and contributes to severe water crisis.

On the analysis of the role played by nature and people, it indicates that the people have significant contribution. This is due to the uncertainty associated with nature in serving the need for water. Therefore, nature cannot be controlled. In addition, people have to adopt other varied sources of water. With the activities that people undertake, they are necessitated to look for alternative sources of fresh water to meet their needs.

Some of the vital progress in countering water crisis has been desalinization and reuse. This indicates that people are the main cause of water crisis and put all their efforts to counter the effects on this perspective. As a result, the processes yield the success of engaging in water sourcing to counter the disastrous activities associated with water crisis.

Another crucial demerit of water crisis entails the cost of the problem. In the process of implementing the projects for solving of water crisis, the country has spent multiple resources. Similarly, the process of addressing the problems of the water crisis has led to pollution of environment resulting in water crisis. This is because the consumption level of the UAE people is extremely high. Thus, the prevalence of water crisis has adverse effects on its major contributors who are the people.

Conclusion

In consideration of the effects of water crisis, most nations undertake measures to counter this vice and prevent its impacts on humanity and economic performance. At the core of the importance of clean and safe water is the consumption need. In this case, humans as well as other biodiversity are at risk of dehydration.

For this reason, most nations without the adequate supply of surface water engage in considerable inputs to ensure the sustainability of sufficient water. Some of the major plans include water reuse, extraction of underground water and seawater desalinization. In UAE, the need for water supply has been constantly met through the desalinization process. Despite the harmful effects such as pollution that desalinization plants have on the environment, significant volumes of water are derived through this process.

The efforts employed in the process of seawater desalinization have been significant towards the realization of its sufficiency. Comparing the severity of water crisis as between the people and nature, the government of UAE has imposed regulations that ensure water preservation and its uniform distribution to all industries.

Similarly, since nature plays a critical role considering that UAE is in an arid region, any precipitations that results within the year are optimally harvested to supplement other sources of water. Under the study, the world, with specification of UAE, has realized the fact that humanity contributes considerably to water crisis compared to nature. This implies, people are attributed as the main cause of water crisis.

Recommendations

The water crisis demands appropriate solutions considering that water is one of the vital reasons for population survival as well as the growth of economic activities. UAE, being one of the countries with high immigration rates that influence population growth, ought to address its water crisis amicably. This need has compelled the government to invest heavily in water treatment and generation.

With the underground and saline water being the major sources of water, the government has invested in the extraction of clean and safe water. Regarding the underground water, the anticipation of climate change necessitates the government to counter the possible impacts of the phenomenon since most of its underground water originates from other regions. While desalinization is the largest contributor of safe and clean water, the government needs to adopt measures to counter its effects on the environment.

Therefore, it needs to adopt policies that ensure that the establishment of new desalinization plants conforms to the needs of environmental conservation and preservation. The implementation of policies that regulate the establishment of ecologically friendly industries will facilitate the realization of this objective. Incidentally, the effects of plants on climate change would decline facilitating the continuous supply of underground water.

For the growing population, there are needs to address the populations’ policies and strategic water management. To counter the rapidly growing population due to high fertility rates and immigration, the government should formulate policies and strategies that will ensure the regulation of population.

This will assist in controlling the population size, and the water generated would be sufficient for the general population. On the other hand, the formulation of strategic water management would guide the country into efficient water utilization. In this regard, the country would plan on the management of the water used for consumption and prevent any wastage that may occur in the course of the process.

Concerning economic activities such as agriculture, energy generation, and industrial usage, the adoption of proper policies is vital in order to minimize water wastage. In addition, water could be recycled in any plant that produces wastewater and facilitate the preservation of the vital resource. In this regard, the country will be able to counter the impacts of the water crisis.

References

Ali, F. (2010). Development of water stress index as a tool for measurement of water stress areas. International Sustainable Development, 1(1), 551.

Boberg, J. (2005). Liquid assets: how demographic changes and water management policies affect freshwater resources. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corp..

Environmental Agency. (2010). Impact, vulnerability and Adaptation in the UAE. Climate change and the UAE, 1(1), 52.

Human, D. R. (2006). Reports (1990-2011) | Global Reports | HDR 2006 | Human Development Reports (HDR) | United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Human Development Reports (HDR) – United Nations Development Program (UNDP). from http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2006/

Jain, S., & Singh, V. (2010). Water crisis. Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, 26(2), 2-3.

Jennifer, k. (2010). Global water intelligence. International Issues, 42(1), 25-85.

Landrais, E. (2010). School in Dubai make progress in reducing carbon emissions. Gulf News, 4, 56-156.

Mehmet, O. (2000). Water balances in the eastern Mediterranean. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.

UAE.Report (2008.). Seawater desalination leads response to global water crisis | International Desalination Association | AMEinfo.com. Middle East business & financial news | business directory & current events | AME Info., from http://www.ameinfo.com/215302.html

Waterbury, J. (1997). Yes, California, there is a water crisis: observations on the UN water conference. Hanover, NH: American Universities Field Staff.

World Bank Report. (2007). Making the most of security: Accounting for better water management: Results in middle East. World Bank Reports, 5(1), 146.

World, Bank Report (2010). Regional Desalinization study for the Middle East. World Bank Reports, 1(1), 13.

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