There is a 72 percent chance that 2022 will be a hotter year than the previous ones, according to various climate studies, as global warming continues unabated. The heat will worsen drought conditions across the Middle East and North Africa, the world’s most water-insecure region, which has access to only 1.4 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies.
The lack of water is already impacting farming, which accounts for 80 percent of consumption in the region, leading to food shortages in many countries, including Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria, as well as further south in Africa in Madagascar and Nigeria.
The problem is further compounded as water facilities are targeted in ongoing internal conflicts, leaving governments unable to treat and deliver water to the public and forcing people to further deplete underground reserves. Meanwhile, Egypt and Ethiopia continue to go head to head over the construction and operation of an Ethiopian hydro-electric dam on the Nile River, which threatens to dramatically cut Egypt’s already-insufficient supply of water.
The water crisis has garnered more attention from both the public and governments in the region in recent years, but little has been done to reduce water waste, expand water treatment infrastructure or resolve conflicts. Serious mismanagement, caused by corruption and lack of planning, is another major threat that leaves countries with significant water resources, like Ethiopia, unable to provide clean water to their populations, causing high rates of malnutrition and facilitating the spread of waterborne illnesses. If the status quo remains unchallenged, further increases in displacement and crime in these areas, and possibly violent unrest, are likely.