man water channels

Water reuse in numbers

The effects of population growth, urbanization, migration and agriculture intensification

Planning water use

Water reuse in numbers

The effects of population growth, urbanization, migration and agriculture intensification

The population of the MENA region has increased more than one quarter in the last two decades reaching 418 million in 2020 – and is expected to keep growing rapidly up to 680 million in 2050. Such population growth, together with a rapid urbanization, agricultural expansion and intensification and changing consumption patterns, is forecasted to drive the increase of water demand by 50% in 2050.

Population growth and urbanisation for the MENA countries

Water stress in the MENA region is greater than any other region in the world, beingthe most water-stressed region on Earth. 12 out of the 17 countries at the highest risk of acute water scarcity are in the MENA region. Currently, the average per capita renewable water resources availability is ten times less than the worldwide average (FAO 2022b).

Water resources in the MENA countries

Demographic growth and urbanization have also translated into greater wastewater production. The capacity for sanitation and wastewater treatment is not growing at the same rate as the production. The region is increasing the number of projects for direct water reuse every decade since 1990. But still up to 50% of produced municipal wastewater is still not put to good use – either being discharged into the sea or evaporated (on land or along rivers).Increasing water pollution further aggravates the situation and makes less water safe for use.

Mapping wastewater production and reuse opportunities

What is wastewater?

Wastewater can be defined as ‘used water discharged from homes, cities, businesses, industry and agriculture’
(Asano et al. 2007).

According to this definition, there are as many types of wastewater as water uses (e.g. urban wastewater, industrial wastewater, or agricultural wastewater)…The term ‘wastewater’ as used in this book is basically synonymous with municipal wastewater.

Mapping wastewater production and reuse opportunities

Mapping wastewater production and reuse opportunities

Types and examples of uses of reclaimed water

The number of reuse projects has specifically grown

Wastewater fate flows

Wastewater fate flows

Proportion of domestic wastewater

Many MENA countries are substantially improving their wastewater treatment rate, however about 40 % of produced domestic wastewater, and a substantial portion of industrial wastewater in the region, are still left untreated, posing serious risks on human health and ecosystems and reducing the amount of fresh water that is safe to use. The recovery of lost wastewater could additionally irrigate and fertilize more than 1 million hectares.

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