Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s driest countries, has announced a national programme for rationalising water consumption in the Kingdom.
The programme sets ambitious targets that include slashing usage by nearly 24% by 2020 and 43% by the end of the next decade. The announcement came at the Saudi Water Forum 2019, held in Riyadh.
The Qatrah (droplet, in Arabic) programme that aims to attain water sustainability was launched by Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Abdul Rahman Al Fadley.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of about 33.4m, is the world’s third largest per capita consumer of water after the United States (pop. 324.5m approximately) and Canada (pop. 37.2m=), according to the Qatrah website.
Through the Qatrah programme, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture aims to reduce daily per capita consumption from 263 litres to 200 litres by 2020 and to 150 litres by 2030.
The water conservation programme will be implemented by the state-owned National Water Company in all regions of the Kingdom whose high levels of per capita water consumption does not keep with its water conditions.
“Qatrah has been established to contribute to changing the behaviour of individuals, raising water awareness, sustaining water resources, optimising water resources through rationalisation, and will allow society of maximise the benefits of food, fuel, electricity and water support, as well as safeguard natural resources,” a statement from the Centre for International Communication (CIC) said.
Water security is a key challenge facing Saudi Arabia and has already led to the Kingdom emerging as the world’s largest producer of desalinated water.
According to the 2015 Global Food Security Index, 97% of Saudi Arabia’s population has access to potable water, despite extremely low annual rainfall, very high evaporation rates and the depletion of groundwater through previously unfettered usage.
Water conservation is far from just a Saudi issue. World Water Day (March 22,2019) was created to highlight the importance of freshwater and to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The internationally recognised theme this year was ‘Leaving no one behind’.
This edited article first appeared in Gulf News.