CAIRO: Arab states are facing a water supply emergency they need to co-ordinate an urgent response to, with per capita resources expected to fall by 50 per cent by 2050, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said yesterday.

The Middle East and North Africa have suffered more than any other region from water scarcity and desertification, problems being complicated by climate change, its director general Jose Graziano da Silva told a meeting of Arab water and agriculture ministers at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf represented Bahrain at the meeting.

He outlined steps taken by Bahrain to achieve sustainable development and food security.

The UN official said Arab states needed to modernise irrigation techniques and co-ordinate water management strategies as a matter of urgency.

The per capita share of fresh water availability in the region is already just 10pc of the world average, according to the FAO. Agriculture consumes more than 85pc of available resources.

“This is really an emergency problem now,” Graziano da Silva said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

The meeting, attended by more than 20 states, was the first of its kind effort to improve co-ordination between different branches of government that have often failed to work together.

“It’s unbelievable that this region does not have good governance on water management and land management,” Graziano da Silva said.

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