RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has allocated a budget of more than $80 billion to implement hundreds of water projects in the coming years, revealed a top minister.
The allocation is part of efforts to achieve universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, according to the Deputy Minister for Water at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
The Kingdom's water requirements, estimated at 24.8 billion cubic meters in 2015, are witnessing a steady annual increase of 7 percent. The agricultural sector represents the largest consumer of water in the Kingdom, accounting for 84 percent of the total water demand.
Deputy Minister Abdulaziz Al-Shaibani affirmed that Saudi Arabia is on track to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 due to water sector reorganization and the formulation of the National Water Strategy.
The national strategy aims to maintain water resources, protect the environment, and deliver high-quality, efficient services. Its objectives are consistent with SDG6 in terms of ensuring global access to clean and safe water.
"The Kingdom aspires to provide sanitation services to all by increasing the percentage of the population covered by sanitation services to be more than 95 percent by 2030. Saudi Arabia also established the National Water Efficiency and Conservation Center,” Al-Shaibani said at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York.
The Deputy Minister also highlighted that sustainable and resilient water management was on the G20 agenda. He emphasized that the Kingdom is on track to enhance agricultural water demand management to meet SDG6.
The strategy has 10 programs, including the involvement of the private sector in production and wastewater treatment, which focuses on pooling production and wastewater treatment assets to privatize them.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia allocated $40 billion for water projects within the five-year capital portfolio of the environment in July last year. The five-year capital portfolio includes 1,335 projects.