In Washington: Dina El Naggar (202) 473-3245, Delnaggar@worldbank.org
In Cairo: Mariam Sayed Ahmed 574-1670, email@example.com
CAIRO, March 11, 2007 —Steps to improve accountability of water management promise higher water outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa region, the most water scarce region in the world. The World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region launched in Cairo today the Regional Report on Water: Making the Most of Scarcity. This is the fifth report in a series that highlights key challenges facing the region.
The event was hosted by H.E. Dr.Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Minister of Water resources and Irrigation in Egypt and the Chairman of the Arab Water Council. A group of Egyptian children called The Egyptian Droplets communicated their hopes and concerns for the future in a widely applauded dance performance.
The World Bank report discusses how water management solutions need to be considered as part of the wider economic policies of the countries of the region. “Meeting the water needs of the growing population of the Middle East and North Africa can no longer be based on a business as usual approach” said Daniela Gressani, Vice President of MNA during the launch of the report in Cairo March 11. “Policies in other areas -- agriculture, trade, land markets, finance, energy pricing -- all impact on how much water is used and how efficiently. Managing water requires the participation of all parts of society."
Despite considerable technical, policy and institutional progress within the water sector across the region, expected improvements in water outcomes are still limited. “For many years, reforms have been partial which has led to slow progress. There are promising initiatives across the region where people and communities are becoming more involved in protecting the environment, better water resources management. There is a need to scale up these initiatives to accelerate progress,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Director of the Middle East and North Africa Social and Sustainable Development Department.
Members of a panel that included regional experts expressed the need for timely action to build on existing initiatives and improve water accountability. The panel was chaired by Mustapha Nabli, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region. “Water management institutions need to adapt to the needs of the 21st century; allowing people to become more involved in voicing demand for better services, monitoring the quality of resources and protecting them from pollution and in contributing fully to the major and hard decisions that need to be made,” Nabli said.