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Reading: Climate Change and Water Scarcity: The Case of Saudi Arabia

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Climate Change and Water Scarcity: The Case of Saudi Arabia

Authors:

Erica DeNicola ,

Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, New York
About Erica
MS
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Omar S. Aburizaiza,

Unit for Ain-Zubaida & Groundwater Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
About Omar S.
PhD
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Azhar Siddique,

Unit for Ain-Zubaida & Groundwater Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
About Azhar
PhD
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Azhar Siddique,

Unit for Ain-Zubaida & Groundwater Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
About Azhar
PhD
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Haider Khwaja,

University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Albany, New York; Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York
About Haider
PhD
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David O. Carpenter

Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, New York; University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Albany, New York
About David O.
MD
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Abstract

Background

Climate change is expected to bring increases in average global temperatures (1.4°C–5.8°C [34.52°F–42.44°F] by 2100) and precipitation levels to varying degrees around the globe. The availability and quality of water will be severely affected, and public health threats from the lack of this valuable resource will be great unless water-scarce nations are able to adapt. Saudi Arabia provides a good example of how the climate and unsustainable human activity go hand in hand in creating stress on and depleting water resources, and an example for adaptation and mitigation.

Method

A search of the English literature addressing climate change, water scarcity, human health, and related topics was conducted using online resources and databases accessed through the University at Albany, State University of New York library web page.

Results

Water scarcity, which encompasses both water availability and water quality, is an important indicator of health. Beyond drinking, water supply is intimately linked to food security, sanitation, and hygiene, which are primary contributors to the global burden of disease. Poor and disadvantaged populations are the ones who will suffer most from the negative effects of climate change on water supply and associated human health issues. Examples of adaptation and mitigation measures that can help reduce the strain on conventional water resources (surface waters and fossil aquifers or groundwater) include desalination, wastewater recycling and reuse, and outsourcing food items or “virtual water trade.” These are strategies being used by Saudi Arabia, a country that is water poor primarily due to decades of irresponsible irrigation practices. The human and environmental health risks associated with these adaptation measures are examined. Finally, strategies to protect human health through international collaboration and the importance of these efforts are discussed.

Conclusion

International, multidisciplinary cooperation and collaboration will be needed to promote global water security and to protect human health, particularly in low-income countries that do not have the resources necessary to adapt on their own.

How to Cite: DeNicola, E., Aburizaiza, O.S., Siddique, A., Siddique, A., Khwaja, H. and Carpenter, D.O., 2015. Climate Change and Water Scarcity: The Case of Saudi Arabia. Annals of Global Health, 81(3), pp.342–353. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2015.08.005
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Published on 27 Nov 2015.
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