Bank sees water management as economic issue in Africa, Mideast

The World Bank issued a report March 11 stressing that water management solutions need to be considered as part of the wider economic policies of countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

The bank’s Regional Report on Water: Making the Most of Scarcity highlighted key challenges facing the region, the most water-short area of the world.

�Meeting the water needs of the growing population of the Middle East and North Africa can no longer be based on a business-as-usual approach,� Vice President Daniela Gressani of the bank’s Middle East and North Africa Region said. �Policies in other areas — agriculture, trade, land markets, finance, energy pricing — all impact on how much water is used and how efficiently.�

The World Bank said improvements in water management are still limited, despite technical, policy, and institutional progress in the water sector.

�There are promising initiatives across the region where people and communities are becoming more involved in protecting the environment and better water resources management,� said Director Inger Andersen of the bank’s Middle East and North Africa Social and Sustainable Development Department. �There is a need to scale up these initiatives to accelerate progress.�

Mustapha Nabli, the World Bank’s chief economist for the region, said water management institutions must adapt to the needs of the 21st Century, allowing people to become more involved in demand for better services, monitoring the quality of resources, and contributing to hard decisions that need to be made in water management.

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