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Virtual Water Trade In A Dryland -- The Case Of Qatar

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Sayeed Mohammed (Doha, Qatar), Sayeed Mohammed
Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 11: Key vulnerabilities and security risks,
AbstractIn this paper, we estimated the total virtual water (blue and green) imported in the form of primary staple food commodities like wheat, rice, fruits, vegetables and red meat from 1998-2013. The total imported green and blue water during this period is 6.12 and 2.66 billion m3. The four countries -- India, Pakistan, Australia and Thailand, contributed 85 and 92 percent of green and blue water. With over 90 percent of food dependence, Qatar realizes its danger and risk. But this risk is inevitable, and Qatar is walking in a double-whammy. The present very limited food production depends mainly on Ground water (GW). The GW is overexploited, depleted, and quality deteriorated, with annual abstraction rate about 400 Mm3/y (Million cubic meters per year), while the replenishment rate is 58 Mm3/y. So, mining of fossil water aquifers is unsustainable and extracting fresh water from aquifers is very close to an end (less than 4 years from now). Qatar with a scarce arable land and freshwater posits itself in a difficult situation -- total dependence on the food commodities from the neighboring countries. Though, Qatar is less vulnerable to climate change directly, but the indirect impacts of food dependence from the Asian continent may have strong negative repercussions to the secure and sustainable supply of food commodities. For instance, India and Pakistan contributed for 90 percent of rice over the last 14 years. But these very Asian countries are severely impacted by climate change and facing severe water shortages and natural events like floods will pose additional risk to Qatar. Recently, Qatar has rejuvenated its plans to increase its domestic food production. But the ambitions are yet to materialize - decent food self-sufficiency and long-term security and price stability. Considering all the geopolitical and climate risks, various stakeholders in Qatar, ranging from research, academia to utility and private sector involved in addressing this critical issues. This paper also critically analyzes the existing water resources and present more refined statistics of water consumption in different sectors and domestic food production.
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