DRIVERS BEHIND CHANGING FOOD DEPENDENCY AND ASSOCIATED WATER RISK IN THE MENA-REGION BETWEEN 1961 and 2011
Countries in the Middle East and North African (MENA-) region are known to be dependent on imports to provide in the human food supply. Countries become, as a result reliant on natural resources abroad, carrying the risk of unreliable imports caused by limited natural resources elsewhere. In this study, food import dependency in the MENA-region and its drivers for change are investigated between 1961 and 2011 as well as the associated water risk of food imports. At first, food import dependency ratios (IDR) over time for the countries are calculated. Secondly, IDR changes per country are related to predefined drivers. Finally, food imports are associated to the water risk. A rising food import dependency was found in all countries, except for Kuwait where the government decided to start food production to decrease the import dependency in the ‘80s. Globalization, population growth and human food supply were found to be the dominant drivers for change while effects of total renewable water resources and the GDP were weaker. Wars affect the IDR in case of high casualties per time unit. Trade treaties affected trade partner choice. Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) mostly have trade partners within the severely water scarce MENA-region and Australia, while the North African countries imported mostly from the moderate to low water scarce European countries. This is the same in the Levant area (Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Syria), but trade partners within the region itself are also seen. This, together with the high import dependency implies the water risk of importing food in the GCC countries to be high, while it is the lowest in North Africa. Water risk of food imports increased slightly over time in the whole region.