SUN 5 - 7 - 2020
Date: Aug 6, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanon 3rd worst in world for water stress: study
BEIRUT: Lebanon has ranked third worldwide for its poor management of water resources, and a day where taps run dry is approaching, according to a report released Tuesday.

According a report by the World Resources Institute, Lebanon has “extremely high baseline water stress” and ranks third globally behind Qatar and Israel.

Within Lebanon, the Baalbeck-Hermel province ranked the worst for water stress, with a score of 4.93 out of 5, where five denotes the highest stress levels. Akkar, Mount Lebanon, Beirut and south Lebanon were tied for the least levels of stress, scoring 4.79. The whole country average is 4.82.

A score over 4 means the area withdraws an average of more than 80 percent of its available water supply every year.

The top category for water stress – areas scoring 4 or above – is dominated by Middle Eastern and North African countries, with 12 out of 17 entries situated in the region. What is more, these 17 countries are home to more than a quarter of the world’s population, with India, at No. 13, home to more than three times the population of the other 16 countries combined.

“The [MENA] region is hot and dry, so water supply is low to begin with, but growing demands have pushed countries further into extreme stress.”

In addition, the threat from climate change is only set to make matters worse, with the World Bank predicting that the region will suffer from economic losses of 6-14 percent of GDP due to climate-related water scarcity.

All is not lost however. The report noted that approximately 82 percent of wastewater in MENA is not used, and that if these resources were harnessed properly, countries could benefit from a new source of clean water.

In 2012, UNICEF found that only 8 percent of Lebanon’s wastewater is treated, and while improvements have been made, experts estimate that 70 percent still remains untreated, with the rest being dumped into rivers and lakes or being used for irrigation.

Internationally, the report found that water withdrawals have seen a more than twofold increase since the 1960s due to growing demand.

“The data is clear,” it said, “there are undeniably worrying trends in water.”

Still, if governments take action now to invest in better infrastructure, increase agricultural efficiency and recycle wastewater more effectively, there is hope that water issues can be solved, the report said.

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