Creating a water-secure future for the UAE
Along with the air we breathe, water is the planet’s most precious resource. Every living creature’s survival depends on it. And humans need it for almost everything – from the food we eat to our fuel, clothes and medicine. Very few countries have freshwater supplies that are so scarce and fragile as the UAE’s. We have no permanent rivers or natural lakes. Instead, we rely heavily on rainwater falling in the Hajar Mountains – creating year-round water in the wadis and underwater gorges.
RISING DEMAND, DECREASING SUPPLY
Thirty years ago, all of our freshwater requirements were satisfied by natural sources. Today, most of our water is being provided by desalination.
This is partly due to a rapid rise in demand from urbanisation and population growth. But there has also been a drop in supply – climate change, low rainfall, high evaporation, over-exploitation of groundwater for agriculture, and the maintenance of artificial gardens, parks and forests are all taking their toll.
Several dam building and desalination programmes have been implemented to combat the looming water shortages. Unfortunately these solutions pose their own threats to the environment. Dams have severe effects on wildlife areas, creating droughts and upsetting the balance of nature. Desalination is also environmentally treacherous – affecting marine life and contributing to climate change.
It’s a situation no one can take lightly if we want to maintain our lifestyles and protect the abundance of wildlife living around our freshwater sources.
So EWS-WWF is partnering with government, business and communities to deliver achievable solutions. By establishing integrated protected area networks, we’re working towards a sustainable future for the UAE’s people and nature.
The Middle East’s arid climate means the UAE averages less than 100mm rainfall a year. With heat and high evaporation, the result is that our groundwater struggles to ‘recharge’. Climate change, population growth, and increasing agriculture also exhaust groundwater resources, therefore we must collaborate collectively to preserve our resources.
CONSERVING NATURAL WATER RESOURCS
We are passionate about restoring and sustainably managing our freshwater ecosystems.
From 2006, EWS-WWF has helped to characterise and monitor freshwater habitats in the UAE. In Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah, we discovered that freshwater systems had ‘exceptionally good’ water quality. This in part led to its accreditation as a RAMSAR site in 2010 – giving it international recognition and significance. It also contributed to its status as the UAE’s first officially protected mountain area: in 2013 EWS-WWF was appointed by the Fujairah Government to spearhead the planning and implementation of the Wadi Wurayah National Park.
Since then we have worked closely with Fujairah Municipality and other stakeholders to put forward a comprehensive management plan based on international best practices.
Today, Wadi Wurayah National Park is also unique for the region in the field of environmental education. The Water Research Centre was opened in 2013 to be the Middle East’s premier water research and education centre – inspiring local and regional communities to preserve freshwater resources for current and future use. It is also home to the Water Research and Learning Programme, promoting valuable citizen science.
We can all take climate action through smarter everyday choices, whether it’s energy efficient products and cars, or the way we use electricity and water. Even by making small changes to our daily routines – and inspiring others to do the same – we have the power to help safeguard our planet for this and future generations.How You Can Help