Cotton crops in Syria. Photo: Franco Pecchio / Creative Commons.
With its villages emptying due to drought, creating what the United Nations calls the "largest internal displacement in the Middle East in recent years," Syria needs solutions to its water-scarcity problem, and fast. That's why it's so heartening to see that the government has made an effort to show that life can be lived well with less water.Syrian Vice President Dr. Najah Al-Attar recently presided over the opening of a model park filled with drought-resistant plants in Dummar, a suburb of Damascus, the Middle East environmental blog Green Prophet reported:
Using drip irrigation techniques, the 1,000-square-meter 'water scarcity park' will harvest rainwater and also use solar power to generate electricity to pump water for irrigation. Drip irrigation is a technique used to conserve water as draws water directly from it sources and takes it the plants through a network of pipes with small holes so that water waste is minimal.... It is hoped that the park will be used as model for public and private parks and help rationalize the consumption of water and energy.
Per-Capita Water Availability Plummeting
After touring the park, Al-Attar hailed it as an example of better cooperation between the government and environmental organizations, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
With poor water management and lack of rainfall causing an almost 40 percent drop in per-capita water availability between 2002 and 2008, Syria is in dire need of such solutions. But the park, if successful, could also help set an example throughout the arid Middle East. Northern neighbor Turkey, for example, uses water-saving irrigation techniques on less than 10 percent of its irrigable land. No wonder almost three-fourths of all the water used in Turkey goes to agriculture. The water scarcity park may be a small start, but a region where 70 percent of the land is dry needs all the creative solutions it can get.
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