AWC/FAO Project for developing “Guidelines for Brackish Water Use for Agricultural Production in the NENA Region" (2014 – 2015)In support of the Cairo Recommendations issued by the “Regional Workshop on Brackish Water Use” held in June 2013 in Cairo, the Arab Water Council (AWC) and The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement for provision of “Guidelines for Brackish water Use for Agricultural Production in the Near East and North Africa”. The project is implemented within the framework of a regional project on “Sustainable Management of Brackish Water Agriculture Use in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Region", under the umbrella of the FAO Water Scarcity Initiative. While considering the objective of supporting member countries for adapting national programs and policies to turning low-quality water into resources and contributing to developing the capacity of member countries on related fields through using brackish water. This activity is implemented in nine pilot countries including: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.
Three regional workshops were organized to present and discuss the development steps of these guidelines. The first of which took place in May 2014 in Doha, Qatar, on the occasion of the 2nd Arab Water Conference, whereas the second and third took place in Cairo, Egypt during the 3rd Arab Water Forum (December 2014) and during the workshops (May 2015). During the workshops, the threshold limits for water and soil salinities were presented for discussion and were approved by the participating international and national consultants and water experts from the NENA countries. The Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for brackish water use were also presented and evaluated.
Additionally, a fourth Regional Workshop took place on the occasion of the 4th General Assembly meetings of the Arab Water Council in Cairo, Egypt, on February 29th, 2016 with the following main objectives:
- To present the developed guidelines for brackish water use for agricultural production in the NENA Region, together with the methodology used, and the recommended integrated management strategies for soil, water and crops as good agricultural practices with the aim of putting the guidelines in its final form;
- To discuss the future related activities and the way forward towards making best use of those guidelines by the Governments of the NENA countries.
Finally, a fifth Regional Workshop took place on the occasion of the 4th African Regional Conference on Irrigation and Drainage (ARCID) in April 2016 in the city of Aswan, Egypt, with the aim of setting the stage for the next phase and the way forward towards implementation.
It was recommended that:
• The Guidelines need to be simplified as an easy implementation manual to be addressed to the farmer in the native Arabic language.
• Based on the developed guidelines, more studies in the field of brackish water can be conducted in the future through a regional project on a wider scale.
The final guidelines under this agreement will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders, researchers and agricultural engineers on the Arab scale.