Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 52

SPECIAL REPORT Water management: A Technological quest to quench the thirst of India & WANA Region By S.K SINHA* A mong, all the challenges the West Asia and North Africa face, the region is least prepared for water crises. The World Economic Forum asked experts and leaders from the region: “For which global risks is your region least prepared?” The majority of respondents identifi ed water crises as the greatest threat to the region—greater even than political instability or unemployment (World Economic Forum 2015) Water has always been a source of risks and opportunities in West Asia and North Africa. Yet rapidly changing socioeconomic, political, and environmental conditions make water security a different, and more urgent, challenge than ever before. For millennia, investments and innovations in water management have contributed to the social and economic development, and to extraordinary accomplishments, 52 •West Asia-North Africa facilitated by secure water supplies and irrigated agriculture. One might wonder: what makes today’s water challenges different from a decade or even a century ago? And how can water security contribute to the region’s economic, social, and environmental well-being, and its path to peace and stability? The answer to these questions lies in the rapid evolution of the West Asia and North Africa’s socioeconomic, environmental, and political context. This context is characterized by high rates of population growth, about 2 percent annually, and particularly the expansion of cities, with the region’s urban population expected to double by 2050, to nearly 400 million. India – one of the most diverse lands on the planet, is at a crucial point of water management where nature shows extremely different signs of water necessities and fulfi lment. Most cities in India are water stressed, with no city having 24/7 water supply. According to the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), 182 cities require immediate attention in regards to proper water and wastewater management. According to offi cial statistics, the coverage of sanitation has increased but resource sustainability and slippages are very common in that coverage. A recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel inked two MoU's between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation of India and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources of the State of Israel on National Campaign for Water Conservation in India. The agreements signed between the two countries and the investment committed to the agricultural and water sectors refl ects the commitment of the Indian government to tackling its water management challenges. India is looking to harness Israel’s expertise in technological innovation and water management. However, it faces a number of challenges in the management of its water resources, with four key issues identifi ed as follow: 1) Population: Currently, India has a population of 1.31 billion people, making it the second most populous country in