OIC Water Report 2021
Date : 13 August 2021

The OIC Water Report 2021: Towards Sustainable Water Management presents the current state of water resources and their management in OIC member countries by using a wide range of the latest relevant statistics. This edition of the report also highlights the nexus between water, energy, and food security along with the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic on water resources in OIC member countries.

The report demonstrates that the water sector in many OIC member countries is far from reaching its optimal state. There are 29 countries undergoing water stress, 18 of which are at critical stress levels. On the bright side, there has been considerable progress in drinking water and sanitation provisions across the OIC member countries. The proportion of the population with access to basic drinking water increased from 80.8% in 2010 to 84.6% in 2017, while the proportion of the population with access to basic sanitation increased from 58.3% in 2010 to 64.2% in 2017. Nevertheless, there is still a need for consistent efforts to ensure universal coverage of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services, particularly in rural and low-income areas.

Furthermore, water resources in OIC countries are strongly affected by changing climate. Numerous studies find that climate change will make the future supply of water more erratic and unpredictable due to an increase in water supply variability. The report pointed out that the water sector in OIC countries is more vulnerable and less prepared to cope with the impacts of climate change, compared to the world average. Amongst other things, this indicates that OIC countries still lack adequate economic, governance, and social capacities to direct investment towards efforts to adapt to climate change.

The important link between the agriculture and water sector is also emphasized in the report. Increased demand for food has significant implications for the water sector in OIC countries. This is because agricultural land in OIC countries constitutes one-fourth of the total agricultural land in the world. Additionally, agricultural water withdrawal in OIC countries accounts for 86.6% of all water withdrawal. Yet, at the same time, the area equipped for irrigation is lowest in the OIC region at 5.9% as compared to non-OIC developing countries (8.2%) and the world average (6.8%). It is highly probable that the lack of water resources and irrigation is one of the main factors causing insufficient food production, which in turn leads to a high prevalence of undernourishment in the region.

The report also reveals a strong relationship between water and energy, commonly referred to as the ‘water-energy nexus’. When it comes to water withdrawal for energy production, electricity generation is by far the largest process, which accounts for 88% of total water withdrawal for energy production in the OIC. This is because thermal power plants -that are water-intensive- make up the majority of the electricity supply mix. Therefore, a continuous supply of water is very crucial to safeguard the electricity supply in the OIC. Energy, on the other hand, is needed in all processes of the water supply chain. Energy demand in the water sector is also expected to increase due to rapid urbanization, which requires the expansion of water and wastewater utilities.

In line with the OIC Water Vision, the report puts forth some policy recommendations with a view to contributing to the efforts of the OIC member countries towards achieving a more water-secure setting for their population. The policy recommendations presented in this report specifically address the need to enhance intra-OIC cooperation, particularly through the adoption of more sustainable water management practices, harnessing the potency of unconventional waters, and improving water-use efficiencies.

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