Policy Perspectives

The Case for Improving Water Efficiency in MENA Countries




September, 2016


O1. Economic Development

A range of contemporary pressures – rising populations, economic development, and climate change – are increasing the strain on water supplies in many regions of the world today. Nowhere is water scarcity felt more acutely than in the arid countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Given the magnitude of the shortfall between demand and supply in so many countries in the region, it is surprising that water management remains so technically and economically inefficient. This policy brief defines the concept of water use efficiency and describes options that could be used in MENA countries to improve it. It also discusses some of the key practical limits of, and objections to, application of water efficiency principles. We finally consider a set of water-related dynamics that are helping to create new threats in this region, and that make efficiency improvements all the more imperative. If improved outcomes are to be achieved in the water sector and for populations in the region, there is an urgent need for forward-looking policy development, coupled with rigorous evaluation to generate evidence of the effectiveness of efficiency-improving interventions.