University of Oulu

Abou Zaki, N., Kløve, B., & Torabi Haghighi, A. (2022). Expanding the irrigated areas in the mena and central asia: Challenges or opportunities? Water, 14(16), 2560.

Expanding the irrigated areas in the MENA and Central Asia : challenges or opportunities?

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Author: Abou Zaki, Nizar1; Kløve, Bjørn1; Torabi Haghighi, Ali1
Organizations: 1Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-03-03


Middle Eastern, North African countries (MENA), and Central Asian countries are considered the countries most facing water and food scarcity. The current water exploitation indicates that a few countries are overexploiting their water resources and using the fossil water available. This study reviews each country’s renewable water resources volume and evaluates the resources available to expand the agricultural area. Different scenarios are considered, using both irrigated and rainfed farming options, for concluding the most sustainable farming method in each country. Different scenarios are considered using irrigated and rainfed farming options to recommend the most sustainable farming method for each country. Results show that the countries in the MENA and Central Asia can be divided into three main categories: (1) Countries whose expansion of agricultural area can only be applied by using fossil water resources (Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan); (2) Countries where the agricultural area can be expanded to a certain limit, by sustainably using both irrigated and rainfed farming (Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Palestine, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Yemen); (3) Countries that have enough renewable water resources to farm all their agricultural area (Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan). However, the aim of this study and its results are only to assess the renewable water resources available to sustain the increased agricultural water demand by setting aside other agricultural factors that constrain the sector.

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Series: Water
ISSN: 2073-4441
ISSN-E: 2073-4441
ISSN-L: 2073-4441
Volume: 14
Issue: 16
Article number: 2560
DOI: 10.3390/w14162560
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1171 Geosciences
Dataset Reference: All the data used in conducting this research are available from the AQUASTAT database, available online: (accessed on 20 January 2022).
Copyright information: © 2022 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (