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Turn Down the Heat: From Climate Science to Action!

Adaptation and Resilience: Middle East and North Africa
Dorte Verner

it is likely one of the contributors to conflict and wars in the Middle-East and North Africa as we are seeing it right now. and potentially to conflict. the region will experience unprecedented extremes and climate change is a threat to poverty reduction and economic growth in the region. for example by growing more drought-tolerant or shorter- cycle crops. Already 14 of the world's 33 most water stressed countries are in the MENA region. today. more droughts. Moreover. People left their agriculture and moved to pastoralism because of the changing climate. The farmers can adapt in many ways. Climate change will likely reduce agriculture production in MENA countries. they will need to invest in agricultural innovation and technology to effectively adapt to increasing climate variability and change. Adaptation to increased unpredictability of rainfall is therefore needed in agriculture. while maintaining productive agriculture for both food security and livelihoods. Water scarcity affects livelihood and economic development and is linked to food it is not new. Globally. Migration and climate‐related pressure on resources could increase the risk of further conflict. more floods. and overall increased climate variability. and therefore very vulnerable to climate change. MENA's population is projected to double by 2050. social instability. The existing coping mechanisms are increasingly becoming obsolete as climate change affects all 355 million people in the region. traditional coping mechanisms are becoming increasingly inadequate and climate adaptation is called for. namely farming communities and cities. The climate has been changing for thousands of years in MENA . The current speed and intensity of climate change is new. and in particular the 100 million poor people. All of them changed in response to the variable climate. millions of people have fled their homes and countries. reduced levels of precipitation. Consequently. This put more pressure on the region's already scarce resources. The first settlements in the world started in this region. which together with projected climate impacts. Over the next century. Farmers may use rainwater harvesting techniques. agriculture is more than 75% rainfed. As the pace of climate change accelerates. 4000 years ago there was a prolonged drought of about 300 years in the Al Hasakah area in North East Syria. that has created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. That led to outmigration already at that time. On top of this. especially for water and food. puts the region under enormous pressure. In MENA. They can also use conservation Page 2 of 3 .The climate has shaped the cultures of the Middle-East and North Africa. The climate is getting hotter dryer and more variable and climate change is already felt in MENA as people are experiencing new and higher temperatures.

Climate change impacts men and women differently in MENA countries. Climate change will affect tourist attractions and facilities. which typically include planting drought resistant vegetation. and use off-season freshwater sources to leach salt residues into the soil profile. employment. To adapt to those changes.tillage. Growing salinization will prompt changes in cropping patterns. Adaptation efforts should also consider gender at the national.6 billion cubic meters per year of municipal wastewater. Appropriate wastewater treatment and rainwater catchment can provide additional water sources. In particular. Cities can reduce vulnerability by implementing green building codes that reduce energy consumption and costs. These settlements often damage the natural environments that act as buffers to climate impacts. and project level wherever efforts occur. use freshwater to blend with saline sources. men from rural areas often migrate and leave women behind in charge not only of the household and family matters but often also of farm and production. Adaptive responses can diversify and expand the tourism sector into less exposed destinations. and foreign currency. Page 3 of 3 . Water availability is a major issue. Rapid urbanization results in the creation and expansion of informal settlements. It can also decrease air pollution. The planting of drought-resistant vegetation can reduce the urban heat island effect. has the capacity to treat nearly 1. and updating irrigation systems. institutional. farmers can use more salt-tolerant crops. the sociocultural gender dynamics make women particularly susceptible to poverty and lower adaptive capacity. and absorb excess rainfall and even CO2. and in soil and water management. Many MENA countries rely on tourism for revenue. Egypt. so it is often unplanned or planned without consideration to climate change. Urbanization in MENA is occurring rapidly. a method that leaves the previous year's crop residue to reduce soil erosion to compensate for reduced soil moisture. They can also embark on urban greening projects. For example. Gender-based vulnerability is an important consideration in adaptation. For example. Another issue in the region is salinization because of rising sea levels and seawater intrusion into aquifers. which are highly vulnerable to climate events.