Restocking the Seas around Bahrain through Fish Farming

The marine waters around Bahrain have been showing a decline in fish stock for several decades. But in the first decade of this millenium, restocking has become a routine practice endorsed by the former Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife (now the Supreme Council for the Environment). In recent years, the fishing industry in the Kingdom of Bahrain is starting to really look up with the restocking of the waters from farmed fish.

Requirements of a Fish Farm

Fish farming means growing fish in fixed enclosures (tanks, ponds or cages) exposed to the natural climatic conditions of the environs. As part of aquacultural activities (another term for fish farming), one needs to replenish fish stock preferably before the fish species dwindle to almost extinction. 

The basic requirements for a healthy fish farm address a number of chemistry-related characteristics. There must be good water circulation which is achieved through tidal action resulting in water velocity in the range of 10-60 cm/sec.  The oxygen level needs to be maintained at the optimum level of  >5ppm while salinity level should approach 49,000ppm. Water temperatures vary with the season and with tidal levels. The range, therefore is between 12 oC  at lowest tide in winter up to 37oC in the peak of summer. Fish prefer alkaline water levels. This can vary with fish species. For example, Shim (Bream) prefer the pH level to range within 8.2 -8.5. Wind and wave action should be minimal. This is best achieved by locating fish farms downwind of the dominant wind direction which means off the east coast of the island. GPIC is located on the right side of the island with a relatively sheltered site for the fish farm. (Source: http://www.gpic.com/responcibility/EnvironmentalProjects/40.aspx )

Fishes, such as bream, are released into the fish farm on reaching the juvenile stage (i.e when the body weight is around 70gm). The ideal fish weight, 210gm is achieved over the next 220+ days. Population density is very critical in fish farming with an ideal number of 7 fishes/m3. The fishes are fed a supplemental diet of dry food pellets. The feeding rate is in the range of 3-7% of the fish’s body weight.  So careful monitoring of the fish is really important. This amount of food supplements is spread out over four feedings in one 24-hour period. Feeding amounts can also be influenced by climatic conditions, thermal properties of the water and the current flow rate.

The fishes are monitored and their growth rate and general performance are all recorded. The average fish body weight is assessed every 15 days. It has been observed that the maximum growth rate is achieved when the water temperatures are at 23oC.  

As well as monitoring the fish themselves, the environs must also be kept in check. Submerged physical features need to be kept free of any buildup of rough, sharp materials that could harm or injure the young fish. Too many barnacles growing on a structure could cause the subsurface structures to break off.  The enclosure could be damaged resulting in an opening through which the farmed fish might escape prematurely out into the open ocean.

Farmed fish can easily catch diseases. This typically happens when or if the density of the stock gets too high.  Fish can get a variety of diseases so much care is taken to protect the whole project.

Fishes are harvested using such as a dragnet, sieving or a Gill net.  A dragnet is a seine method of fishing where the net hangs vertically in the water with weights holding the bottom down and floats keeping the top floating.  Gill nets are also vertical nets that trap fish via their gills being caught in the net.

Promising Initiative by GPIC

The Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC) fish farming activities began in 1996 with a capacity of 10,000 fish. An area of 625 sq. meter forms part of the natural marine environment surrounding the industrial location, has been turned into a fish farming area. The three main species raised in the farm are Black Sea Bream (Shim), Mullet (Meid) and Rabbit Fish (Saffee).  By 2001, the capacity had increased to 30,000 fish. By 2012, capacity had reached 80,000 fish, and the projection for 2015 is 100,000 fish. (U.N. Global Compact Communication on Progress (UN Global Compact COP) including the food and agricultural principles, GPIC, June, 2015,p51)

The restocking of the surrounding waters has long been carried out by GPIC as part of their CSR initiatives. Each year, the company releases batches of sea bream into the local waters to replenish the fish stocks of the surrounding marine areas.  In August, 2008, 80,000 hamour and 20,000 subaiti bream, weighing between 80-100gm, were released into the sea. Today the capacity of fishes released to restock the surround marine waters stands at 100,000 fishes. (GPIC Sustainability Report, 2014, Building a Greener Future, 156pp). 

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إمكانات توليد الطاقة من مخلفات النخيل

date-palm-biomassيعد تمر النخيل احد المنتجات الزراعية الاساسية في المناطق الجافة و شبه الجافة في العالم خاصة في الشرق الأوسط و شمال افريقيا. يوجد اكثر من 120 مليون شجرة نخيل في العالم تنتج عدة ملايين من الاطنان من التمر كل عام، بالاضافة الي المنتجات الثانوية و التي تشمل عروق النخيل، الأوراق، السيقان، السعف و الليف. يمتلك العالم العربي اكثر من 84 مليون شجرة نخيل و اغلبها في مصر، العراق، المملكة العربية السعودية، ايران، الجزائر، المغرب، تونس و الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

تعتبر مصر اكبر منتج في العالم للتمر حيث بلغ إنتاجها السنوي في عام 2012  1.47مليون طن من التمر و هو ما يمثل حوالي خمس الانتاج العالمي. تمتلك المملكة العربية السعودية اكثر من 23 مليون شجرة نخيل و التي تنتج حوالي مليون طن من التمر في العام. تدر أشجار النخيل كميات هائلة من المخلفات الزراعية في شكل أوراق جافة، سيقان، نوي التمر، بذور، الخ. يمكن لشجرة نخيل واحدة ان تنتج نمطيا ما يقرب من 20 كيلوجرام من الأوراق الجافة سنويا بينما يمثل نوي التمر غالبا 10% من ثمرة التمر. اثبتت بعض الدراسات ان المملكة العربية السعودية وحدها قادرة علي ان تنتج اكثر من 200,000 طن من الكتلة الحيوية لتمر النخيل كل عام. 

يعتبر تمر النخيل من مصادر الطاقة الطبيعية المتجددة لانه يمكن استبدالها في وقت قصير نسبيا. تستغرق شجرة النخيل من 4-8 سنوات حتي تثمر بعد زرعها، ومن 7-10 سنوات حتي يكون حصاد ثمرها اقتصاديا. يتم عادة حرق مخلفات تمر النخيل في مزارع او يتم التخلص منها في مقالب القمامة مما يسبب تلوث بيئي في مناطق انتاج التمر. في بلدان مثل العراق و مصر يستخدم جزء صغير من الكتلة الحيوية للنخيل في انتاج الأعلاف الحيوانية.

الكتلة الحيوية للنخيل تحتوي علي المكونات الاساسية الآتية سليولوز و هيميسليولوز و اللغنين. بالاضافة الي ذلك يحتوي النخيل علي نسبة عالية من المواد الصلبة المتطايرةو نسبة منخفضة من الرطوبة. و بفضل هذه العوامل و المكونات تكون الكتلة الحيوية للنخيل مصدرا ممتازا لإنتاج الطاقة من المخلفات في منطقة الشرق الأوسط و شمال افريقيا. يوجد نطاق واسع من تكنولوجيات حرارية و كيمياء حيوية تستخدم لتحويل الطاقة المختزنة في الكتلة الحيوية للنخيل الي عدة صور مفيدة من الطاقة. وجود نسبة رطوبة منخفضة في تمر النخيل تجعل مخلفاته مناسبة تماما لتكنولوجيا التحويل الحراري و الكيميائي مثل الإحراق و التحويل الي غاز و الانحلال الحراري.

علي الجانب الاخر، وجود نسبة عالية من المواد الصلبة المتطايرة في الكتلة الحيوية للنخيل تدل علي إمكانيتها لإنتاج غاز حيوي في مصانع التهضيم اللاهوائي، و من الممكن بواسطة التهضيم المشارك مع المخلفات الصلبة للصرف الصحي، المخلفات الحيوانية  و النفايات الغذائية. يمكن تحويل المحتوي السليولوزي في مخلفات النخيل الي وقود حيوي (إيثانول حيوي) عن طريق استخدام عملية التخمير. و بالتالي فان وجود أشجار النخيل بوفرة في بلدان مجلس التعاون الخليجي، و علي الأخص المملكة العربية السعودية، يحفز علي تطوير قطاعي الكتلة الحيوية و الوقود الحيوي في المنطقة. 

 

Translated by Maiy Latif and Katie Holland

مي لطيف مهندسة بترول تخرجت من جامعة كالجري الكندية و لها خبرة عالمية في مجال النفط و البيئة. تخصصت مي في تنمية مشروعات تتعلق بحماية البيئة  و السلامة و الصحة و الأمان في مجال النفط من خلال عمليات معالجة مخلفات و نفايات نفطية. تعمل مي في شركة هندسية كندية لها مشاريع في الولايات المتحدة، النرويج، الكويت، السعودية و اندونيسيا. 

Katie Holland graduated from Durham University in 2015 with a degree in Arabic and French, having also studied Persian. Currently working in London, she hopes to develop a career that uses her knowledge of Arabic and the Middle East, alongside pursuing her various interests in the arts. 

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Green Finance in Middle East

Green finance is among the most important enablers that would boost innovation and increase the adoption of green solutions and practices across different industrial sectors. Green finance, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, provides public well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and improving ecological integrity.

Middle East is making good progress towards green growth and low-carbon economy. “The latest regional trends highlight the need for green financing mechanisms to support transition to green economy”, said Ruba Al-Zu’bi, CEO of EDAMA. “While green may be the obvious feasible and sustainable approach, access to finance makes it more appealing for small and medium enterprises and to individuals to promptly take the right decision”, she added.

Jordan is one of the earliest proponents of green finance in the Middle East. “Green finance in Jordan is being offered through public channels, such as the Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (JREEEF), commercial banks, micro-finance institutions as well as International Financial Institutions”, said Ruba.  “Most of green finance mechanisms are supported by technical assistance, awareness-raising and targeted marketing activities, all ofwhich are crucial to success of green projects”, she said.

In the GCC, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) is gearing up to launch a $500 million green bond, the first in the region. This green bond will provide a boost to renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, and is expected to catalyze sustainable development projects in the GCC.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi has the distinction of being the first issuer of green bonds in the Middle East

To sum up, green finance will act as a major enabler for local, regional and international financing needs of green projects. The upcoming COP22 in Marrakesh is expected to provide impetus to climate change mitigation and adaptationprojects across the Middle East region. The key to success, according to Ruba Al-Zu’bi, will be market readiness, effective governance frameworks, capacity-building and technology transfer.

أزمه المياه في مصر

تعاني مصر في السنوات الاخيرة من شح شديد في المياه و يعد توزيع المياه غير المتكافئ و اساءه استخدام موارد المياه وتقنيات الري غير الفعاله بعض العوامل الرئيسيه التي تلعب دورا مدمرا للأمن المائي فيالبلاد.

يعد نهر النيل شريان الحياة في مصر حيث  يغطي متطلبا ت الزراعة و الصناعه و هو المصدر الرئيسيلمياه الشرب للسكان. ان ارتفاع معدلات النمو السكاني و التنمية الاقتصادية السريعة  في دول حوض النيل  بالإضافة الى التلوث و التدهور  البيئي آخذُ باستنزاف الموارد المائية في مصر.

 و تواجه مصر   عجزا مائيا يقدر  بسبع بليون متر مكعب سنويا .وفي حقيقة الامر فإن الامم المتحدة قد حذرت من نفاذ المياه في مصر بحلول عام 2025.

دعونا نلقي نظره فاحصه على العوامل الرئيسيه التي تؤثر على الامن المائي في مصر.

الانفجار السكاني

ان العدد السكاني في مصر اّخذ بالتكاثر بمعدل ينذر بالخطر , ولقد زاد بنسبه 41 بالمئه منذ بداية التسعينيات. تشير التقارير الاخيرة من قبل الحكومة الى ان حوالي 4,700   حديثي الولادة تضاف الى عدد السكان كل أسبوع و تشير التوقعات المستقبليه  الى ان عدد السكان سيرتفع من 80 مليون الى 98.7 مليون بحلول عام 2025.

ان الزيادة السكانية السريعة من شأنها ان تضاعف الضغط على الامداد المائي من خلال زيادة الاحتياجات المائية  للاستهلاك المحلي و زيادة استخدام مياه الري  لتلبيه الطلب على الغذاء.

الري غير الفعال

تحصل مصر على نسبه اقل من 80 ملم من الهطول المطري سنويا,وتعد ما نسبته 6 بالمئه من اراضيها فقط صالحا للزراعة وما تبقى فهو صحراء.وهذا بدوره  يؤدي الى الافراط في الري واستخدام تقنيات الري المسرف كالري السطحي ( الري بالغمر) و هي طريقه قديمه للري حيث يتم اغراق القطعة الزراعيه بالمياه.

في الوقت الحالي,فان شبكة الري تستمد بالكامل من سد اسوان العالي و هذا بدوره ينظم اكثر من 18,000 ميل من القنوات الرئيسية و القنوات الفرعيه التي تروي الاراضي الزراعيه المجاوره للنهر. يعد هذا النظام غير فعال , حيث يقدر معدل الفاقد من مياه النيل بفعل التبخر 3 مليارات متر مكعب سنويا . ان من شأن  انخفاض الامداد المائي  ان يقود الى انخفاض الاراضي الصالحة للزراعة و حيث ان قطاع الزراعه يشكل اكبر رب عمل للشباب فان شح المياه يمكن ان يقود الى زيادة معدلات البطالة.

التلوث

 اصبحت المخلفات الزراعية والنفايات الصناعية السائلة  و مياه الصرف الصحي ُتلقى بغير اهتمام في نهر النيل مما يجعلها تدريجيا غير صالحة للاستهلاك البشري. اضف الى ذلك فإن مياه الصرف الصحي القادمة من الاحياء الفقيرة ومناطق عديدة في القاهره اضحت تفرغ في نهر النيل وذلك لنقص  المحطات المعالجة لتلك المياه.

 تلك المخلفات الزراعية عاده ما تحتوي على ملوثات من مبيدات الحشرات و الاعشاب مما يؤثر سلبا على مياه النهر. كذلك النفايات الصناعية السائله غالبا ما تكون شديدة السميه وتحتوي على معادن ثقيلة و التي يمكن ان تتحد مع المواد الصلبه العالقة في مياه الصرف الصحي لتشكل الوحل. كل هذه العوامل مجتمعه معا من شأنها ان تلوث نهر النيل و تنذر بشؤم للأجيال القادمة.

الاضطرابات الاقليميه

تسيطر مصر على غالبيه الموارد المائية المستخرجه من نهر النيل بمقتضى معاهدة الحقبه الاستعمارية التي تضمن حصة  ما نسبته 90 بالمئه من نهر النيل و تمنع الدول المجاوره لها من الحصول ولو على قطره واحده من النيل من دون الحصول على إذنها .وعلى الرغم من ذلك فان هذا لا يمنع  البلدان الواقعه على نهر النيل  مثل بوروندي و اثيوبيا من استغلال الاضطرابات السياسيه التي تعصف بمصر وكسب المزيد من السيطرة على حقوق  النيل. ورغم ان نهر النيل يزود مصر بما نسبته 95 بالمئه من المياه العذبة   فإن فقدان بعض الامدادات المائية يمكن ان يشكل متاعب إضافيه لمصر.

الختام

إن قضيه المياه في مصر تتصاعد بنسبه مثيره للقلق. بحلول عام 2020 ,سوف تستهلك مصر بما يقدَر 20 بالمئه اكثر  من المياه مما كانت عليه. مع فقدان قبضتها على النيل  فان شح المياه في مصر  من شأنه ان يهدد استقرار البلاد و الهيمنة الاقليميه. و هذا يحتم على الحكومة المصريه و جميع السكان التحرك بسرعة وبشكل حاسم للتخفيف من شح المياه  وتطبيق اساليب و تقنيات اكثر فاعليه للمحافظة على المياه و منع تلوثها  ووضع وتطوير خطط من شأنها السيطرة على تلوث المياه وجعل تقنيات الري اكثر فاعليه و كفاءة و ذلك لتجنب وقوع كارثة.

ترجمة

سلام عبدالكريم عبابنه

مهندسه مدنية في شركة المسار المتحده للمقاولات – مهتمه في مجال البيئه و الطاقة المتجدده

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The Menace of Single-Use Plastic Bags

Single-use plastic bags are one of the most objectionable types of litter in urban areas. The sheer volume of plastic waste generated coupled with energy and material resources required for production, as well as emissions resulting from these processes paint a grim picture of the environmental havoc created by plastic bags. Single-use plastic bags are a huge threat to the environment as an estimated 1 trillion such bags are consumed worldwide every year. In the United Arab Emirates alone, nearly 12 billion plastic bags are used annually.

Major Hazards

Single-use plastic bags are notorious for their interference in natural ecosystems and for causing the death of aquatic organisms, animals and birds. In 2006, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean and upto 80 percent of marine debris worldwide is plastic which are responsible for the death of a more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year from starvation, choking or entanglement. Infact, there is a huge floating dump in the Pacific Ocean called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" which is hundreds of miles wide and consists mostly of plastic debris caught  in the ocean's currents. 

Plastic bags are mistakenly ingested by animals, like cows and camels, clogging their intestines which results in death by starvation. In addition, plastic bags clog urban drainage systems and contribute to flooding, as witnessed in Mumbai, Dhaka and Manila in recent decades. Moreover, toxic chemicals from single-use bags can enter the food chain when they are ingested by animals and birds.

Unfortunately only a small percentage of these bags are recycled each year, and most float about the landscape and create a tremendous expense in clean-up costs. Several countries, regions, and cities have enacted legislation to ban or severely reduce the use of disposable plastic shopping bags. Plastic bags litter serves as a floating transportation agent that enables alien species to move to new parts of the world thus threatening biodiversity.

Plausible Solutions

The hazards of single-use plastic bag can be mitigated by raising environmental awareness among communities. Many municipalities in the Gulf region are targeting shopping malls and grocery stores to reduce dependence on single-use plastic bags. Environmental education at workplaces, schools and residential areas is a vital tool in the fight against plastic bags. Empowering people to take proactive actions and encouraging them to be a part of the solution can also be helpful in reducing the reliance on single-use plastic bags.

Municipalities can make use of 5Rs of waste management – Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover – to encourage safe disposal of plastic bags which may be facilitated by mass deployment of plastic bag collection systems and recycling facilities at strategic locations. Some of the alternatives are cloth-based bags, such as jute and cotton, which biodegradable as well as reusable. Infact, the range of durable fabric shopping bags is growing each year in the Western countries, including those that can be conveniently folded up into a pocket.

The introduction of ‘plastic bags tax’ can also be a handy weapon in restricting use of single-use plastic bags in the Middle East. For example, Ireland introduced a plastic bag charge called PlasTax ten years ago which has virtually eliminated plastic bags in the country. 

Regional Initiatives

The Middle East region has been slow in gearing up to the challenges posed by single-use plastic bags, though governments have been trying to raise public awareness aimed at behavioral change. The Ministry of Environment and Water in UAE launched an initiative called “UAE free of plastic bags” in 2009 to maintain the health of the natural habitat and enhance the environmental standards of the state. The Dubai Municipality has also launched an ambitious “No to Plastic Bags” campaign to slash 500 million plastic bags. There are similar efforts, but small-scale, efforts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait to encourage clean-up campaigns in seas, deserts and citites. In Egypt, the Red Sea (Hurghada) is the first plastic bag free governorate having introduced a ban in 2009 which generated employment opportunities for women who have been charged with creating cloth bags in the place of plastic bags.

 

About the Authors

Eaman Abdullah Aman is MRLS graduate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy with a specialization certificate in Energy Law and Policy from Denver University, USA. Her expertise encompasses international petroleum transactions, petroleum contracts and agreements, international petroleum investment operations, energy policy and economics of natural resources law and policy. She has rich knowledge on issues related to climate change mitigation, environmental law and policy, environmental ethics, energy security, sustainable development etc.

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA and a renowned expert in waste management, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainability. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on environment and sustainability sector in the Middle East and proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on clean energy, environment and sustainability through his websites, blogs, articles and projects. Salman can be contacted on salman@ecomena.org.

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Peak Oil: Perspectives for Saudi Arabia

PeakOil-SaudiArabiaThe term ‘peak oil’ is ominous to the Middle East, as most of the countries in the region are heavily dependent on oil and natural gas for industrial, economic and social development. Petroleum is considered one of the world’s most important sources of energy generation, after uranium, of course. Many other substances have been tested in order to be used as alternatives to petroleum, but none have hitherto been successful. Scientific research illustrates how the world is facing catastrophe if it doesn’t find an alternative to oil, as it is currently impossible for the global economy to grow without sufficient amounts of energy which are adapted to the demands of this growth. There is more discussion now than ever before about how the world is definitely starting to approach a stage of peak oil.

What is Peak Oil

Peak oil is a termed coined by the renowned American geologist King Hubbert in the fifties. He managed to predict an oil peak in several regions in America which would occur in the seventies; and exactly what this scientist predicted did in fact happen. For when oil extraction reaches extreme levels it begins to decline and gradually ends. Oil is considered a finite resource, or one which isn’t renewed as it is used up.

This theory confirms that global oil production has reached its peak today and has started declining inexorably now that 50% of the world’s oil reserves have been consumed. This proves that oil could be on the brink of depletion if clear and serious plans are not put in place to guide consumption and therefore encourage using provisional reserves in the best way. However, this theory is not accepted by many or by those who continue to focus on how large the earth’s oil reserves are, and how they only need investment so that they can be drilled.

Peak Oil Scenario for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is considered one of the largest global oil exporters and the only one able to regulate and stabilise the global oil market, thanks to its reserve stocks. These reserves are calculated to be at 265.4 billion barrels, or what is enough to last, at the current level of production, for more than 72 years. According to ARAMCO reports, there are around a trillion barrels that will be discovered in the future and will satisfy global demands, despite current consumption, for one whole century.

 Saudi Arabia is currently focussing its efforts on drilling and extracting natural gas, as it doesn’t import it but depends on domestic production. Alongside this, the Saudi Kingdom is currently making huge investments in nuclear energy and solar power.

But can natural gas and renewable energy be relied upon as alternatives to oil in order to satisfy Saudi Arabia’s domestic needs, which are rapidly growing each day? According to a recent report by America’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-consuming nation in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia consumed 2.9 million barrels per day of oil in 2013, almost double the consumption in 2000, because of strong industrial growth and subsidised prices. One important contributor to Saudi oil demand is the direct crude oil burn for power generation. There is not just enough fuel oil and natural gas to meet the demand and hence the resorting to crude oil.

Has peak oil really arrived? If not today, then when? And how will it look, especially for countries totally dependent on oil? Will its consequences be different for both developed and under-developed nations?  Given that global demand for oil will only grow to exceed 100 million barrels a day after 2020, according to the most extreme estimates, I believe that the time may have come for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to start planning for what follows the oil era.

Despite looming threat of peak oil, power generation capacity in KSA is expected to rise from current level of 58GW to 120GW by 2032, however Saudi Arabia cannot afford to burn rising crude oil volumes for power generation. In spite of the fifth largest natural gas reserves in the world, it does not produce sufficient gas for power generation and for its vast petrochemical industry. The only solution at this point of time is transition to low-carbon economy whereby Saudi Arabia make use of its massive solar energy potential, implement effective measures for improving energy efficiency in the industrial sector and remove huge energy subsidies for industrial and domestic users.

 

Note: The article has been translated from Arabic by Katie Holland who graduated from Durham University in 2015 with a degree in Arabic and French, having also studied Persian. Currently working in London, she hopes to develop a career that uses her knowledge of Arabic and the Middle East, alongside pursuing her various interests in the arts. 

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Sustainability Perspectives for Amman

amman-sustainabilityIs Amman a sustainable city? No, it is not. That isn't a very surprising statement if you've ever lived in or visited Amman. By all means, it's a beautiful city, with plenty to offer visitors and residents alike. It is a diverse city with a wide range of experiences to offer between East and West Amman or Downtown to Abdoun.

The fact remains however that it is not a very sustainable city. We as residents are not being kind to the city we call home. When I look at Amman I happen to see all the things I like, but also all the potential our city has to improve.

Below I examine only a few factors that contribute to the unsustainability of Amman. These are not the only issues we are facing as Ammanis but they are some of the factors affected by high level policy making in Greater Amman Municipality.

Transportation in Amman
"Amman is a city that is built for the convenience of cars and drivers". This is a statement I heard from a TEDxAmman speaker just weeks after I moved back to Jordan from abroad, and it was a shock to hear it phrased in that way. Although I was aware of the obvious lack of public transport and alternative means of getting around the city, I had never realized the extent of how true that statement is.

Any investment in the city’s transport infrastructure goes to build and improve the quality of our roads, bridges and tunnels with no consideration of public transport investment. The one time that Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) attempted to invest in a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, it turned into a very controversial topic, with accusations of corruption and mismanagement of resources all around with the project still not close to being completed.

Amman is also not a very pedestrian friendly city, with virtually no sidewalks found on the streets. Or even worse, the sidewalks we do have are in fact pots to plant trees which makes it very difficult for pedestrians to use it for what it's meant for; to walk. Additionally, there are barely any pedestrian crossings.

Amman is indeed a city built for the convenience of cars and their owners, with almost a 10% increase in car ownership annually in the city, even in low income families. 

Historically speaking, our current transportation system worked well up until the mid-1900s when the population of the city grew from a few hundred thousand people to 2 million. Recently the city has reached a little under 3 million inhabitants with the same road infrastructure minus a few improvements here and there. 

This is obviously a challenge that our 3 million Jordanians have to endure on a daily basis, whether it is by fighting traffic every day or by long waits on the very little number of buses that we have. 

Even less obvious is the environmental impact of such transport habits, with one estimate being that for each passenger in the city we need to plant 17 trees every year to cover our annual CO2 emissions of 1,464.4kgs. 51 million trees need to be planted every year in Amman to cover our transport emissions!

Waste Management in Amman

"Out of sight, out of mind" is probably best applied to our waste in Amman, or indeed in all of Jordan. We all know that we have garbage trucks passing around the neighborhoods collecting garbage once or twice a week. And we all remember the garbage collecting "crisis" Amman went through in 2012 when garbage was piling up and the out of maintenance trucks couldn't collect it all. 

However what we forget is what happens to all our waste once it's collected. If we had a developed recycling system, we could slightly reduce the amount of waste produced by residents of Amman. Since recycling is not an option we cannot ignore the 1,400 tons of waste produced every year by Ammanis. This translates to more than half of the waste produced in the country – the remaining cities across Jordan only produce 1.1 tons of waste.

This means that 1,400 tons of waste is transported to landfills outside of Amman, but very close to residents of other cities. Once the garbage in those landfills becomes too much to handle, they burn it to empty up space for even more trash. If you've ever been to Zarqa, you are very well aware of the smell from the burning garbage in the landfill along the way.

Urban Sprawl
In my opinion, urban sprawl in Amman is the most important issue Amman is facing. It is also an issue largely ignored by our officials and citizens alike. It has reached a very critical condition because large areas of previously agriculture land is now all converted to residential areas and the very little agricultural land we have left is under immediate threat to be converted to residential neighborhoods. 

I was actually very surprised to find out that areas such as Sweileh, Wadi Alseer, and Al Jubayha were separate towns in the early 1900s and not a part of Amman. Now however they're so urbanized that they're considered another district in the city.

There were actually some recommendations in the 1950s by a group of international experts to separate Amman from these towns by designating green belts around them to limit construction in those areas. All their recommendations were of course ignored. Now other areas are under the same threat of urbanization and loss of agricultural land especially on the road between 7th circle and the Airport.

Of course, till now GAM is licensing agricultural land around Amman for construction of residential areas with no consideration to its importance to our agriculture which is already suffering greatly. 

Ingredient of a Sustainable City

There are quite a few factors combined that affect the sustainability of a city, or lack thereof.  Based on the broad definition of Sustainability (meeting present needs while ensuring that resources are available to meet future needs), the definition of sustainable cities broadly would be cities that ensure that the current needs of its residents are meet without compromising on the needs of its future inhabitants.

Some of the criteria that help create sustainable cities are the following:

  • Resource recovery and waste management – collection and disposal of non-recyclable materials, frequent and adequate collection of bins as well as creating a broader waste management strategy
  • Litter prevention  – well placed litter bins in public areas and city centers, litter education and awareness programs and integration of litter management with a broader waste management strategy
  • Environmental innovation and protection – establishing partnerships between community, government and industry to protect environmental resources, establishing local conservation groups, develop and implement public/open space plans for local community, among many others.
  • Water Conservation – innovative water conservation and re-use initiatives. 
  • Energy Innovation – innovative energy efficiency measures, renewable energy, and addressing climate change issues.

How Can Amman Actually Become Sustainable?
Obviously there is quite a journey ahead of Amman, and Jordan as a whole in fact, in becoming sustainable. While GAM is the main entity able to create the needed environmental regulations, channel investments into sustainable public transport, allow innovations in renewable energy,  and guide the many other initiatives we cannot ignore the role of individual citizens. 

In a micro level, each individuals behavior, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to them does indeed influence the overall sustainability of the city. Enumerating the various water conservation, energy efficiency, or waste management methods would probably be repetitive however one request I make of myself and other Ammanis is to be constantly thoughtful of our impact and try to reduce it as much as possible.

One way to remain thoughtful is to remain informed. We should all be aware what the impact of our actions is. Whether it pertain to CO2 emissions of our cars, or the lack of actual waste management. 

We should be informed to be able to influence decision making as well. There will come a day when we have proper communication channels with GAM and other government officials and we will be able to shape the decisions that will make our city more sustainable.

Till that day comes, don't ignore your responsibility as an aware, thoughtful citizen of our beautiful city.

References

  1. The Road Not Taken, Jordan Business, Hazem Zureiqat 
  2. Traffic in Amman, Jordan, Numbeo.com
  3. Municipal Solid Waste Landfills in Jordan – Current Conditions and Perspective Future, Mohammad Al Jaradin & Kenneth Persson
  4. Urban Sprawl, Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE), Mohammad Al Asad
  5. Sustainable City Criteria, 2012

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شهر رمضان والتحول نحو الأستدامة

شهر رمضان محطة للتزود بالوقود ومساحة لتغيير نمط الأستهلاك والعيش ببساطة على هذا الكوكب.  أن سبب الأزمة البيئية وأزمة الماء والطاقة والغذاء هو فشل الإنسان في مُهمة الخلافة وادراك دوره الحضاري كشاهد ومستخلف. التحول نحو الأستدامة يتطلب تغيير أنماط الأنتاج والأستهلاك للتصدي للفقر والتغير المناخي وهذا يستلزم التحول الكلي في نمط التنمية والعيش و تسخير المعرفة المحلية و الإبتكار والقيم والأخلاق وتطير  نماذج محلية للتنمية الطيبة  من خلال الحراك الأخضر أو الجهاد، و الإبتكار الأخضر أو الاجتهاد، و أسلوب الحياة الأخضر أو الزُهد كما هو موضح أدناه.

الحراك الأخضر يعني النضال ضد الإختلالات و الظلم و الفساد التي تُخِل بالحياة وبالفطرة والطبيعة. يجب على المجتمع المسلم أن يُظهِر الأسلوب الأمثل و المتوازن للحياة كأمة وسط بعيدا عن الأفراط والتفريط لقوله تعالى "وكلوا وأشربوا ولا تسرفوا". إن الدور الرئيسي للأمة الوسط  هوتقديم وتجسيد نماذج مستدامة للحياة عبر الكلمة الطيبة والبلد الطيب والتنمية الطيبة. والسؤال هو الى اي مدى نستمد من رمضان هذه الطاقة المتجددة للتحول في الوعي والأدراك والعيش والتعاطف والتراحم والبر.

شهر رمضان يمثل وسيلة للوصول والأرتقاء الى درجة  الإحسان  والذي يعبر عن حالة الجمال الداخلي الذي ينعكس إلى الخارج، و يحوِّل كل نشاط إنساني إلى فن، و يحوِّل كل فن إلى ذكر لله تعالى. يتّصل مفهوم الجمال إتصالا حميما بالله تعالى، و يمكن أن يتجلى الإحسان من خلال العطاء للمحتاجين والرحمة للعالمين بل ويتعدى ذلك الى التصالح مع المحيط الخارج وتقدير قيمة الجمال  من هندسة العمارة و الحدائق و الخط العربي.

يُعتبر الحراك الأخضر في جوهره قوة إيجابية هادفة لضمان التوازن و الفطرة و حماية مجتمع الحياة و لضمان الطيبة و العدالة ونصرة الحق والمظلوم والضعيف. فنحن البشر عندما نسبب تهديد لأي كائن حي  فنحن في الواقع نُسكِت فئة كاملة من المسبِّحين لله، أو ما أسمِّيه إزعاج أو خلل لسمفونية الحياة. يُخبرنا القرآن الكريم أن الإنسان عندما يسيئ إستخدام القوة فهذا يؤدي إلى تدهور كل من رأس المال الطبيعي و رأس المال الإجتماعي لقوله تعالى "فهل عسيتم ان توليتم أن تفسدوا في الأرض وتقطعوا أرحامكم". إن شهر رمضان يمثل منتدى انساني للتعاطف الأنساني والحوار بالكلمة الطيبة في عصر الفوضى التي نعيشها. لأن المسلمين يشكِّلون جزءا من المجتمع المدني العالمي، فهذا من شأنه أن يُعزِّز دورهم كسفراء للتغيّر من أجل السلام العالمي و الديمقراطية و الحرية والعيش المستدام من خلال احياء ومأسسة الزكاة والصدقات والوقف واحياء الأرض الموات.

و بالتالي، فإن التصدي لقضية تغيّر المناخ والفقر من منظور إسلامي يتطلب ادراك الأنسان لدوره وغايته كشاهد ومستخلف في الأمة الوسط. شهر رمضان هو المقياس والباروميتر الذي نتوق اليه لضمان الإنسجام و التوازن والتراحم والعطاء والزهد. شهر رمضان هو امتحان للخيارات البشرية وتغليب المصلحة العامة على الأنا حتى لا "يهلك الحرث والنسل" ولا نصل لحالة "بئر معطلة وقصر مشيد" بما كسبت أيدي الناس. لقد حدث إختلال في هذا التوازن نتيجة لإختيارات الإنسان التي أدت إلى الإستهلاك المفرط و و الإفراط في إستخدام الموارد ولكن هناك فرصة للعودة والتعلم من عظة التاريخ "لعلهم يرجعون". إن البعد الأخلاقي للإسلام يتمثل في تطوير الوعي الجديد لحالة التصالح مع النفس والآخر والمحيط.

شهر رمضان دورة عملية ميدانية  لتأكيد مفهوم الزهد و الحد من الإسراف و التبذيروتقدير نعم وخيرات الله الظاهرة والباطنة، وهذا التأمل في أحوال البلاد والعباد يحفز على الإبتكار لتوليد فقه الواقع والموازنات والمآلات والمصلحة العامة.

خلاصة القول ان رمضان فرصة للتحول الى نمط الحياة الخضراء و التنمية المحلية الطيبة التي تعمل على المحافظة على الموارد كوسيلة للحياة و تدعم نماذج إنمائية صغيرة لعلنا نشكر ونرشد بعد أن نرنتقي لمرتبة التقوى.

أ.د عودة الجيوسي – مستشار دولي في التنمية المستدامة

 

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إدارة النفايات في المغرب

تعد إدارة النفايات الصلبة واحدة من المشكلات البيئية الرئيسية التي تهدد المملكة  المغربية. إذ تنتج هذه الأخيرة أكثر من 5 ملايين طن من النفايات الصلبة بمعدل نمو توليد النفايات السنوي وصل إلى 3 في المئة. و يعاني التخلص السليم من النفايات الصلبة البلدية في المغرب من أوجه قصور رئيسية  تتمثل في عدم وجود البنية التحتية المناسبة والتمويل المناسب في المناطق خارج المدن الرئيسية.

وقد أبان تقرير البنك الدولي،  على أنه في عام 2008، قبل الإصلاح الأخير  "لم يتم  جمع إلا 70 من المئة فقط من النفايات الصلبة البلدية في المدن وأن فقط  أقل من 10 من المئة من النفايات التي تم جمعها هي التي يجري التخلص منها بطريقة مقبولة بيئيا اجتماعيا. هذا مع وجود حوالي 300 مكب نفايات عشوائي، وحوالي 3500 جامع للنفايات، يشكل الأطفال 10 في المئة منهم ،  يعيشون داخل وحول هذه المكبات المفتوحة ".

خطر حرق النفايات

إنه لمن المألوف أن نرى حرق النفايات  كوسيلة للتخلص من النفايات الصلبة في المغرب. حاليا، يتم التخلص من النفايات البلدية  بطريقة هوجاء وغير مستدامة و التي لها آثار كبيرة على الصحة العامة والبيئة. فعدم وجود البنية التحتية لإدارة النفايات يؤدي إلى حرقها كشكل من أشكال التخلص من النفايات غير المكلفة. وللأسف، فإن الآثار الصحية الرئيسية لحرق النفايات هي، يا إما غير معروفة على نطاق واسع أومستهان بها بشكل صارخ  من طرف الغالبية العظمى من السكان في المغرب.

يشكل حرق النفايت مصدر قلق صحي خاص بسبب كمية الديوكسينات الكبيرة التي تنتج أثناء عملية الحرق. إذ يعد الديوكسين من الملوّثات البيئية شديدة السمية التي يتم تحريرها عند حرق النفايات المنزلية. أكثر الديوكسينات التي يتم إصدارها في الهواء أثناء عملية الحرق ينتهي بها المطاف إلى الترسب على أوراق النباتات الخضراء. وبالتالي دخولها في السلسلة الغذائية عبر أكلها من قبل  الحيوانات الحلوبة مثل الأبقار والأغنام والماعز مما ينتج عنه تخزين الديوكسينات وتراكمها في الأنسجة الدهنية لهاته الحيونات. و بمجرد حدوث ذلك، يصبح  من الصعب تجنب الديوكسينات  ويكون الإنسان ، في المقام الأول، الأكثر عرضة لخطر الديوكسينات من خلال تناوله اللحوم ومنتجات الألبان الأخرى، وخاصة تلك التي تحتوي على نسبة عالية من الدهون.

وعلاوة على ذلك، فإن هذا النوع من الحرق في الهواء الطلق يتسبب أيضا في تلوث الجسيمات. ويقصد بهذه الأخيرة، الجسيمات المجهرية التي ينتهي بها المطاف إلى الترسب في الرئتين وبالتالي تسببها في عدد  كبيرمن المشاكل الصحية للإنسان، مثل الربو والتهاب الشعب الهوائية. و للأسف، يعتبر الأطفال وكبار السن الذين يتعرضون للديوكسينات هم المهددون الأكثر بتلك الأمراض. عدا هذا، ينتج عن هذا الحرق مواد مسرطنة ضارة أخرى مثل الهيدروكربونات العطرية متعددة الحلقات، ثنائي الفينيل متعدد الكلور (PCB)، والمركبات العضوية المتطايرة، وسداسي كلورو البنزين .و من المعروف أن هذه  الملوّثات  تسبب مشاكل صحية عدة تتراوح بين تهيج الجلد إلى تلف الكبد والكلى وحتى في بعض الحالات الأكثر خطورة فقد تم ربطها بالسرطان.

و غالبا ما يحتوي الرماد، نفسه الناتج عن حرق النفايات، على الزئبق والرصاص والكروم والزرنيخ. "بإمكانية امتصاص و ومراكمة خضروات الحديقة  لهذه المعادن،  قد يشكل تناولها خطرا على الصحة. يمكن أيضا للأطفال الذين يلعبون في الساحة أو الحديقة أن يبتلعون، عن دون قصد، التربة التي تحتوي على هذه المعادن. أيضا، يمكن أن يجرف المطر الرماد إلى المياه الجوفية والمياه السطحية، و بذلك تتلوث مياه الشرب والغذاء. "هذا دون التطرق إلى فئة جامعي النفايات الذين يعرضون صحتهم مباشرة للخطر بفرزهم نفايات البلدية.

الجانب الإيجابي

إلا نه هناك خبر سار بخصوص مستقبل إدارة النفايات الصلبة في المغرب و الذي يتمثل في كون البنك الدولي قد خصص 271300000 دولار للحكومة المغربية من أجل وضع خطة إدارة النفايات البلدية . وتشمل تفاصيل الخطة استعادة حوالي 80 موقع دفن النفايات، وتحسين خدمات جمع النفايات، وزيادة إعادة التدوير بنسبة 20٪، وهذا كله بحلول عام 2020. في حين يتوقع  أن يصنع هذا الإصلاح المعجزات لسكان المناطق الحضرية فإن المرء يأمل أن تشمل فوائد هذا الإصلاح  فقط حوالي 43٪ من سكان المغرب الذين يعيشون في المناطق الريفية، مثل أولئك الذين يعيشون في قريتي.

ومما يعد من البديهيات، أنه وبالرغم من توجه المغرب نحو نظام إدارة ، أكثرصداقة للبيئة  وأكثر أمانا، للنفايات الصلبة، فإن عددا كبيرا من سكانه، بمن فيهم الأطفال وكبار السن، سيغفل عنهم هذا الإصلاح. و حتى يتم بذل المزيد من الجهد، بما في ذلك مبادرات التمويل وزيادة في التعليم، سيظل هؤلاء الناس عرضة لظروف معيشية حرجة بسبب التمويل غير المناسب، و وضعية البنية التحتية والتعليم.

 

ترجمة

هند سلامة، حاصلة على شهادة الدكتوراة تخصص الكيمياءـ البيئة من كلية العلوم عين الشق جامعة الحسن الثاني ـ المغرب، عملت كمديرة مشاريع في عدة مؤسسات و أعمل حاليا كمستشارة مستقلة في مجال البيئة و التنمية المستدامة و مترجمة  ، هذا عدا عن مساهماتي في البرنامج التطوعي للأمم المتحدة  UNVو متطوعة أيضا مع EcoMENA

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Energy Efficiency Perspectives for UAE

With Abu Dhabi alone on track to generate more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity for the first time, discussion about improving energy efficiency in the United Arab Emirates is taking on a more critical tone. Daytime energy use in the hot summer months is still experiencing rampant year-on-year growth, with peak demand this year growing by 12 per cent. Lying at the heart of these consumption levels is the need for air conditioning, which accounts for about half of total electricity demand.

Business and Government Action

At the commercial level, considerable steps are being taken to reduce the Emirate’s carbon footprint. A building insulation program in Dubai has resulted in claims that all buildings there have become twice as energy efficient since completion of the program. Further steps are also underway in other ecological areas such as water efficiency and waste management with the intention of ensuring the green credentials of every building meet international environmental standards and expectations.

At the official level the Emirates’ Authority for Standardization and Metrology continues to implement its Energy Efficiency Standardization and Labelling (EESL) program. This introduced specific efficiency and labelling requirements for non-ducted room air-conditioners in 2011.

These measures were joined this year by requirements under the same program for many other household electrical goods including lamps, washing machines and refrigerating appliances. The labelling requirements under this program will become mandatory by 2013 enabling consumers to see which machines are the most efficient and make sound environmental choices that will also save them money on running costs. The EESL programme will be further extended in 2013 to include ducted air-conditioners and chillers.

The UAE’s oil and gas sector also is recognising the importance of the energy efficiency agenda. It might seem counterintuitive that a sector with oil reserves of about 97 billion barrels and natural gas reserves of six trillion cubic meters should be thinking about how to save energy. The issue is that these reserves, despite their size, are not finite and that oil for export produces greater revenue generation than oil for the domestic market. It is, therefore, in the oil and gas sector’s interest to work with those trying to drive down domestic consumption, as it will maximise the sector’s longer term sustainability.  

The Emirates Energy Award was launched in 2007 to recognize the best implemented practices in energy conservation and management that showcase innovative, cost effective and replicable energy efficiency measures. Such acknowledged practices should manifest a sound impact on the Gulf region to stir energy awareness on a broad level and across the different facets of society.

Significance of Behavioural Change

As much as formal initiatives and programmes have their place in the battle for a more energy efficient UAE, there also needs to be a general shift in culture by the public. Improving public perception of green issues and encouraging behaviours that support energy efficiency can contribute significantly towards the overall goal. As fuel prices increase in the domestic market, the UAE’s citizens are already adding more weight to fuel efficiency when considering what cars they will buy.

SUVs and 4x4s might still be the biggest sellers but household budgets are becoming increasingly stretched and many ordinary citizens are looking for smaller more efficient cars. Perhaps for the first time, the entire running costs of cars are being considered and the UAE’s car dealers and their suppliers are looking to accommodate this change in their customers’ attitudes. This trend is so significant that some car dealerships are seeing large year-on-year increases in sales of their smaller, more efficient models.

Car rental companies are seeing this trend also and in Dubai, at least one is making hiring a car with green credentials more appealing to a wider cross-section of the public – offering everything from the more familiar Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs to the most exotic hybrid and fully electric cars available to hire or lease.

Capitalising on these trends makes both environmental and business sense but economic drivers cannot alone be left to change public behaviour. There are really simple measures that government and business should be encouraging people to take. Some may argue that switching-off computers, lights and air-conditioning at the end of the working day may save energy but is not sufficiently worthwhile promoting – voluntary measures of this sort will not impact on overall energy trends.

There is evidence however that if these behaviours are added to measures like installing energy efficient lighting, lowering thermostats and optimising EESL five-star rated air-conditioners, the energy savings really do become significant – potentially halving a building’s energy consumption.

Conserving energy may not yet be a way of life in the UAE but the rapid changes being seen there are an indicator of what is to come. Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the UAE maintain its economic strength in the region and because of this it is one agenda that will not be going away.

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CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

Conventional large-scale desalination is cost-prohibitive and energy-intensive, and not viable for poor countries in the MENA region due to increasing costs of fossil fuels. In addition, the environmental impacts of desalination are considered critical on account of GHG emissions from energy consumption and discharge of brine into the sea. The negative effects of desalination can be minimized, to some extent, by using renewable energy to power the plants.

What is Concentrated Solar Power

The core element of Concentrated Solar Power Plant is a field of large mirrors reflecting captured rays of sun to a small receiver element, thus concentrating the solar radiation intensity by several 100 times and generating very high temperature (more than 1000 °C). This resultant heat can be either used directly in a thermal power cycle based on steam turbines, gas turbines or Stirling engines, or stored in molten salt, concrete or phase-change material to be delivered later to the power cycle for night-time operation. CSP plants also have the capability alternative hybrid operation with fossil fuels, allowing them to provide firm power capacity on demand. The capacity of CSP plants can range from 5 MW to several hundred MW.

Three types of solar collectors are utilized for large-scale CSP power generation – Parabolic Trough, Fresnel and Central Receiver Systems. Parabolic trough systems use parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar radiation on linear receivers which moves with the parabolic mirror to track the sun from east to west. In a Fresnel system, the parabolic shape of the trough is split into several smaller, relatively flat mirror segments which are connected at different angles to a rod-bar that moves them simultaneously to track the sun. Central Receiver Systems consists of two-axis tracking mirrors, or heliostats, which reflect direct solar radiation onto a receiver located at the top of a tower.

Theoretically, all CSP systems can be used to generate electricity and heat.  All are suited to be combined with membrane and thermal desalination systems. However, the only commercially available CSP plants today are linear concentrating parabolic trough systems because of lower cost, simple construction, and high efficiency

CSP-Powered Desalination Prospects in MENA

A recent study by International Energy Agency found that the six biggest users of desalination in MENA––Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates––use approximately 10 percent of the primary energy for desalination. Infact, desalination accounted for more than 4 percent of the total electricity generated in the MENA region in 2010. With growing desalination demand, the major impact will be on those countries that currently use only a small proportion of their energy for desalination, such as Jordan and Algeria.

The MENA region has tremendous wind and solar energy potential which can be effectively utilized in desalination processes. Concentrating solar power (CSP) offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. Infact, several countries in the region, such as Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are already developing large CSP solar power projects.

Concentrating solar power offers an attractive option to run industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  Such plants can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants based on thermal or membrane processes. The MENA region has tremendous solar energy potential that can facilitate generation of energy required to offset the alarming freshwater deficit. The virtually unlimited solar irradiance in the region will ensure large-scale deployment of eco-friendly desalination systems, thereby saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Several countries in the MENA region – Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia – have joined together to expedite the deployment of concentrated solar power (CSP) and exploit the region's vast solar energy resources. One of those projects is a series of massive solar farms spanning the Middle East and North Africa. Two projects under this Desertec umbrella are Morocco’s Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power plant, which was approved in late 2011, and Tunisia’s TuNur Concentrated Solar Power Plant, which was approved in January 2012. The Moroccan plant will have a 500-MW capacity, while the Tunisia plant will have a 2 GW capacity. Jordan is also making rapid strides with several mega CSP projects under development in Maa’n Development Area. 

Conclusions

Seawater desalination powered by concentrated solar power offers an attractive opportunity for MENA countries to ensure affordable, sustainable and secure freshwater supply. The growing water deficit in the MENA region is fuelling regional conflicts, political instability and environmental degradation. It is expected that the energy demand for seawater desalination for urban centres and mega-cities will be met by ensuring mass deployment of CSP-powered systems across the region. Considering the severe consequence of looming water crisis in the MENA region it is responsibility of all regional governments to devise a forward-looking regional water policy to facilitate rapid deployment and expansion of CSP and other clean energy resources for seawater desalination.

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Vanishing Aquifers in MENA

aquifer-menaAquifers are of tremendous importance for the MENA as world's most water-stressed countries are located in the region, including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. However, aquifers in MENA are coming under increasing strain and are in real danger of extinction. Eight aquifers systems, including those in MENA, are categorized as ‘over stressed’ aquifers with hardly any natural recharge to offset the water consumed.

Aquifers in MENA

Aquifers stretched beneath Saudi Arabia and Yemen ranks first among ‘overstressed’ aquifers followed by Indus Basin of northwestern India-Pakistan and then by Murzuk-Djado Basin in North Africa. The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer in the Eastern end of Sahara deserts (parts of Sudan, Chad, Libya and most of Egypt) is the world’s largest known ‘fossil’ aquifer system and Bas Sahara basin (most of Algeria-Tunisian Sahara, Morocco and Libya) encloses whole of the Grand Erg Oriental. The non-renewable aquifers in the Middle East are the Arabian Aquifer and The Mountain Aquifer between Israel and Palestine. Some parts in MENA like Egypt and Iraq rely on major rivers (Nile, Tigris and Euphrates) but these surface water flows does not reach the ocean now. Needless to say, water demand in arid and dry MENA countries is met primarily by aquifers and seawater desalination.

MENA region is the most water-scarce region of the world. The region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to measly 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water. The average water availability per person in other geographical regions is about 7,000 m3/year, whereas water availability is merely 1,200 m3/person/year in the MENA region. The region has the highest per capita rates of freshwater extraction in the world (804 m3/year) and currently exploits over 75 percent of its renewable water resources.

Primarily global exploitation of groundwater is for agricultural irrigation. In Saudi Arabia, during 1970’s, landowners were given free subsidies to pump the aquifers for improvisation of agricultural sectors. Soon the country turned out to be world’s premium wheat exporters. But as years passed, water consumption was high in such a rate that the aquifers approached total depletion. Government announced peoples demand to be met by desalination, which is an expensive approach to meet agricultural sector requirement. By end of 1990’s agricultural land declined to less than half of the country’s farm land. Saudi Arabia is no more a wheat exporter rather relies almost entirely on imported crop from other countries. Unfortunately, country has exploited nonrenewable and ancient ‘fossil’ aquifers which could not be recharged by any form of precipitation.

Key Issues

Stress on a country’s agricultural and water resources majorly cause problems in human health as well as instability and conflicts over shared resources. Climate change has also exacerbated water availability in the Middle East. Infact, water stresses has triggered brutal civil war in Syria and worsened the Palestine-Israel conflicts over sharing aquifers. The key issues, according to World Bank, in water utilization in MENA are as follows:

  • Unsustainable and inefficient use: Middle East countries have the highest per capita consumption of domestic water in the world with 40-50% leakage in the urban systems. And 50% water withdrawn for agriculture does not reach as intended.
  • Ineffective policies: the countries diverts 85% of water to grow crops which would be better importing.
  • Deteriorating water quality: contaminated water systems due to insufficient sanitation infrastructure has caused negative impacts on environment and health issues. Like, in Iran where issues associated with inadequate waste water collection and treatment cost estimated 2.2% of GDP.
  • Excessive reliance on the public investment on water accounts for 1-5 percent of GDP.

In MENA an unexpected climate change is likely to bring 20% rainfall reduction and high rate of evaporation which intensifies water stress. And proportionate climate initiated human behavior, more it gets dry, less water in the river, more tendencies to substitute by groundwater. Also depletion of water below the ground will rise to other disasters like sea water intrusion, land subsidence, especially in Arabian Peninsula, in turn destroys the constructions, infrastructures and developments of the country made-up till date.

Tips to Save Aquifers

We do not know how much water is remaining beneath, but we must understand it is vanishing at a very high rate. MENA must treasure aquifers and natural water resource as same as oil reserves are valued. Individual can play a significant role in saving aquifers in MENA by adopting these simple water conservation guidelines

  • Do not drain cooking oil or grease into sink; use adequate amount, reuse like as a shovel cleaner, polish or donate to machinery shops.
  • Effective use of tap; do not run water while brushing. During winters, store the initial cold water that runs out of the tap prior to the hot water from heater. And also know the convenient tap adjustments.
  • Maintain healthy, hygienic and sanitation practices.
  • Replace conventional water pumps and home appliances with advanced water conservative ones.
  • Avoid unnecessary products, food materials and reduce wastage; water consumed in a diet account’s 92% of water footprint of an individual.
  • Avoid sprinklers for irrigation and in garden use to avoid water loss by evaporation and substitute with efficient water distribution system.

By nature, water is definite in this ‘blue planet’. But when there is no right quantity of water at right quality and time it is called ‘Crisis’.

 

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