Tuesday, 22 March, 2022.
North Cyprus cannot continue to rely on Turkey to supply it with water because, by 2050, Turkey will not have sufficient resources to send water to the north of the isladn, Director of IFU Environmental Research Centre, Professor Şerife Gündüz has said.
In an interview on the occasion of World Water Day when water has become a ‘security’ issue like ‘national security’, approximately 842,000 people, mostly under the age of 5, die every year due to diseases caused by “unsafe water consumption“.
Speaking to Kibris Postasi, Professor Şerife Gündüz said, “Everyone will take care of themselves. Because this is a matter of life and death. We need to understand the water crisis. We cannot be tied to Turkey on water issues”.
North Cyprus requires an average of 107 million cubic metres of water annually, 72 million cubic metres of which is used for agriculture, while 23 million is used for drinking.
Meanwhile, 10 million cubic metres of water evaporates and disappears because there are no sufficient means of capturing rainfall or preventing runoff into the sea.
According to official data, 90 million of the 107 million cubic metres of water can be met from underground sources and 17 million from surface water such as ponds, but the more are needed due to the increasing drought events brought on by climate change, the inability to protect the existing water, and distorted population policies.
Currently, an annual average of 75 million cubic metres of water is conveyed by an underwater pipeline from Turkey to North Cyprus.
Can North Cyprus Survive With its Own Water Resources?
Professor Gündüz states that existing resources cannot keep up with the population growth rate, and that for this reason, salt water is mixing in with the aquifers in Güzelyurt and Famagusta, the largest water resources of North Cyprus, as a result of ‘over-drafting’, she adds:
“With appropriate policies and managing a rapidly increasing population, yes, we can be self-sufficient in water. But first we have to manage the conservation of the available water and keep the population under control”.
She also emphasised that in addition to managing the population policy in order to be self-sufficient in water, studies should be carried out on collecting rain water, recycling wastewater, establishing a seawater augmentation system (desalination) if necessary, and not polluting groundwater with pesticides.
Climate Change Effects in The Mediterranean
Climate change is expected to increase drought conditions in the Mediterranean, and “we must raise awareness and protect our future“, Professor Gündüz said adding:
“In the 2050 projection, the Mediterranean is included as a red zone. We are in one of the areas most affected by the climate crisis. Due to the climate crisis, drought will increase and we will be unable to find water. This is the picture they’ve drawn for 2050. That’s why we need to talk about concepts such as environmental security and water security.
“Like the Mediterranean, which is facing water scarcity, the southern part of Turkey is also within this area. Drought will also occur in Turkey and it will have to solve its own water crisis. The scientists there are preparing reports. Because no one will have the power to give water to anyone. Water is essential for the ecosystem, for oxygen, for the soil, in short, for the continuation of life”.
Urgent Action Required
North Cyprus should make water and climate security a matter of national security and fulfil its responsibilities in this regard, Professor Gündüz stated, adding that “urgent action plans” should be formulated.