Arab world faces eco-crisis

Published: Sunday 15 January 1995

A World Bank environmental strategy plan warns that the Middle East and North Africa are heading for an environmental disaster. The report says that a quarter of the Arab World has no access to safe water supplies, while 1/5th of its population lives in cities with "unacceptable levels" of air pollution. In Cairo alone, lead pollution levels are estimated at 2-10 microgrammes (MCG) per cubic metre, against the World Health Organization's stipulated levels of 0.5-1 mcg per cubic metre. The estimated health cost of the pollution is now at 7 US cents per litre of petrol.

According to the report, the Arab League states are paying a heavy price for the pollution -- US $10 billion a year, or about 3 per cent of their combined gross domestic product.

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