Water shortages in the Middle East have become an increasing problem over the years. Many conflicts surround the availability of water to millions of people in the region. To reduce these conflicts and improve health and livelihoods, indoor farming is an innovative solution to help conserve water and increase its availability.
One impending conflict over water availability is in Egypt. In the Ethiopia-Egypt water dispute, Ethiopia is building a dam that would decrease the water flow of the downstream river nation of Egypt. As 95% of Egypt’s land is desert, the country relies greatly on water from the Nile River. The decrease in water caused by the proposed dam would have disastrous effects, greatly impacting agriculture. With an increasing population, it is already anticipated that Egypt will have water and food shortages in the coming years. Ethiopia and Egypt have failed to reach an agreement over this situation.
Another water conflict in the Middle East involves the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which flow from Turkey to Iraq. Turkey has built dams on both rivers, but, like Egypt, Iraq is very dependent on these rivers. According to Iraq, the dams have decreased the country’s water supply by 80%. This has led to protests and the controversy over the dam may lead to further conflict between the countries.
Some conflicts occur within countries when there are water shortages in the Middle East. In Pakistan, especially in cities like Karachi, local gangs are robbing water supplies, which leaves the 39% of people engaged in agriculture without sufficient water in a country already experiencing a water shortage. The majority of available water in Pakistan is used for agriculture.
While indoor farming cannot completely solve these conflicts, it can help alleviate water shortages in the Middle East. Indoor farming factories, which have plants growing in vertical rows in sunlight-devoid facilities, require 95% less water and 99% less land than conventional farming. Additionally, hydroponic plants that thrive in these indoor farms, which don’t require soil and only require water, absorb more nutrition than plants that grow in soil. This method is effective for growing leafy greens and is easy to learn for farmers with little experience.
One potential obstacle to indoor farming is the cost. Indoor farming can be expensive due to the artificial light required. However, factoring in the money saved on water, it can be affordable. Foreign aid can also help developing countries set up indoor farming and bolster the agricultural sector. While costs may prevent this from being a perfect long-term solution, it is an effective temporary solution that can help decrease worsening water shortages.
Indoor farming is a promising option for countries experiences water shortages in the Middle East. With water access expected to continue decreasing in many areas, methods for conserving water are essential. Indoor farming is one way countries can reduce water usage, conserving the available water. Moving forward, with the help of humanitarian organizations, indoor farming and other water-saving solutions can hopefully be implemented across the region.
– Justin Chan