Plummeting rainfall levels in Turkey spark need for conservation of water resources

Rainfall in Turkey has decreased by 25% over the last 30 years with a knock-on effect on the volume of available water resources. Now campaigners have joined forces to boost awareness about water conservation in the country.

Currently the amount of water available per year and capita reaches 1.400 m3 but a report from the Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) shows that it is expected to fall to a level below 1000 m3 by 2070 which would cause severe water scarcity. The report states that Turkey “is experiencing a period of drought” and that “climate projections indicate a fall in water potential”.

The NGOs TEMA foundation, the European Environmental Bureau and Friends of the Earth Croatia have come together as part of a new EU-funded project titled ’Participatory River Basin Management: Water Matters’ which kicked off at the beginning of this year.

Along with rising temperatures and climate change, various factors are putting stress on water supplies. Turkey has a population of over 80 million people and the population is growing at a rate of over 1.3% per year. Demand for water is increasing with population growth and demands for better living standards. Agriculture consumes 64% of the country’s water supply and 20% is used for industrial purposes.

Water and food security are intrinsically linked and Ağaçayak and E. Fuat Keyman, researchers at the IPC, warn that to meet the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end hunger and prevent malnutrition by 2030 for all people, it is “important to enhance and sustain water and food security in Turkey”.

As part of its bid to become a member of the European Union, Turkey must develop a sustainable water resources management plan and the country is working on harmonising its rules with EU standards, including the EU’s Water Framework Directive adopted in 2000 as well as River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs).

In 2018, the European Commission published recommendations to Turkey, calling on the country to complete its alignment with EU directives on water, waste management and industrial pollution. The Commission also provided guidance to ensure the effective implementation of so-called ‘cross-cutting’ rules, including EU law on public participation and the right to access environmental information.

The objective of the NGO project will be to enhance awareness about water resources’ conservation and ‘river basin management’ among public authorities and local communities.