World Bank Report Reviews MENA’s Water Demand and Options

World Bank1 February 2013: A new World Bank report, titled “Renewable Energy Desalination: An Emerging Solution to Close MENA's Water Gap,” indicates that water demand in the Middle East and North of Africa (MENA) countries will quintuple by 2050. The study highlights that a water demand gap might persist even after applying all demand management options, and suggests that "new" water produced through desalination and greater investment in renewable energy are required.

The study indicates that MENA's citizens have "a little over 1,000m3 for use, compared to a global average of over 7,000m3." Assuming that this scenario regarding the MENA water gap is unsustainable, the report calls for a significant reduction of the costs of desalination in order to meet energy and water needs of a growing population and a changing climate.

Considering that fossil fuel desalination methods are inefficient, the report recommends greater investments in renewable energy and suggests that concentrated solar power (CSP) is the most suitable renewable energy source due to its scalability and ability to provide energy 24 hours per day. The report notes, however, that CSP may only be an option in the long term because of its current high cost. To address this issue, experts advise the prioritization of more efficient water use.

To close the "water gap" in this region, the World Bank estimates that approximately US$104 billion per year will be needed (around 6% of the MENA region GDP). The study concludes that, in case of inaction, the costs could be even higher, reaching up to US$300-400 billion per year. [Publication: Renewable Energy Desalination: An Emerging Solution to Close MENA's Water Gap][Publication: Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries: A Case for Adaptation Governance and Leadership in Building Climate Resilience]