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Managing scarce water resources

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Declining rainfall and an increase in the consumption of water - mostly for agricultural, but also for urban use - present difficulties for those who live around the Mediterranean basin. Increasingly scarce water resources must be used in a sensible and sustainable way combining experience of water management accumulated over the millennia with scientific analytical capacity. Research in this area is a lynchpin of the INCO-Med programme, which is seeking more efficient means of using water and to produce effective policies for improving the management of freshwater supplies.

Improvements have to be made with due regard to local environmental and socio-economic conditions. INCO also recognises that water supply problems cross boundaries and therefore it is encouraging regional co-operation and joint approaches to the problem of scarcity.

With agriculture using between 70-80% of freshwater, water conservation and reuse are essential. Development of better irrigation technologies can actually reduce water demand, as can a better knowledge of crop and plant needs. In the urban environment, improved water treatment and recycling can make water go a little further, as can a greater understanding of how run-off takes this valuable resource away from our towns and cities.

Water for life

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Leishmaniasis is an infection caused by Natural water resources around the Mediterranean basin are becoming scarce. The latest attempt at mitigation is desalination of sea and brackish water. However, conventional methods bring environmental problems because they use fossil fuels. The Medco-desal project assessed water resources and examined the viability of desalination using renewable energies in the eastern Mediterranean. Positive results included an evaluation of desalination technologies and complementary management and training policies. In addition, a Geographic Information System (GIS) database was developed to map water resources, demand and hot spots in particular need of mitigation through desalination or other methodologies.

 

Conserving water, helping people

Water is the source of all life. People living in remote, arid areas of the southern Mediterranean know this only too well. They are benefiting from an INCO project which examined the sustainability of small reservoirs in hilly areas. The results are providing guidance on water conservation through the development and maintenance of such reservoirs. Their use provides a lifeline for communities as agriculture and crop management is made possible through controlled irrigation. The population is starting to thrive in these areas because of the stability offered by a secure water supply.

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Confirming the international role of community research