This article was originally published on Public Finance International.  

“Inadequate water supply and sanitation is costing the Middle East and North Africa region around $21bn a year in economic losses, the World Bank has said. Its vice president for the region Hafez Ghanem said: “If we think of water resources as a bank account, then the region is now seriously overdrawn.”

The bank’s new report, Beyond Scarcity: Water Security in the Middle East and North Africa, found that limited water resources need not restrict the region’s future and a combination of technology, policy and management could bring about secure supplies.

Ghanem said: “Drawing water from rivers and aquifers faster than they can be replenished is equivalent to living beyond one’s means, and it undermines a country’s natural capital, affecting longer-term wealth and resilience. “But there are solutions, and they start with clear incentives to change the way water is managed.”…”