x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Learn the value of water

A UN water expert says the UAE should target water awareness campaigns at gardeners and domestic workers.

If the UAE is to reduce its water use it may need creative ways to educate the public. "The level of consumption here is over and above what are considered luxury standards," said Carol Cherfane, chief of the water resources section of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

At 550 litres per person per day, the consumption rate is one of the highest in the world in one of the most water-stressed regions. The price of water is subsidised by the Government, which makes wasting it inexpensive to individuals.

Awareness campaigns need to target those who manage water usage in many households, such as domestic staff and gardeners, said Mrs Cherfane, who was in Abu Dhabi for a conference on energy and water use. She pointed to a study of one Gulf country which found that households with a gardener consume twice as much water as those without one.

Homeowners should explain the significance of the issue to their staff, she said.

Empowering women can also help. "They will then do the oversight in the household," said Mrs Cherfane.