In the Middle East, underground water plays a vital role in preventing heat and drought in arid countries. Even though this brings some challenges, countries like Libya and Iraq are finding success in agriculture. Groundwater serves as the primary source of fresh water in ten Arab nations.
With rivers and lakes drying up due to climate change, groundwater is gaining importance in these regions. Some underground water in the Middle East has been stored for thousands of years, often called fossil groundwater. What’s unique is that replenishing it is quite difficult, much like a one-time-use resource. Yet, when it rains, the amount of underground water can increase. However, if more water is taken out than what is naturally replenished, there is a risk of depletion.
War-torn Yemen finds it hard to manage these rules, but developed countries like Saudi Arabia can implement them more easily. In various parts of Morocco, local people rely on groundwater regularly.
Satellite images show a significant decline in Middle Eastern groundwater levels over time. This naturally stored water is diminishing, though it’s challenging to predict exactly when it will run out.
Recent reports reveal that Libya uses around half of its 6,500 wells, whereas Tunisia and Algeria have fewer wells. Unfortunately, there are no legal consequences for countries using excessive water. Water issues in the Middle East are intricate, and this will likely lead to high-level discussions in the future. If not addressed, water scarcity could create dangerous situations in the region ahead.