Water of the Middle East and North Africa

Water Management in Kuwait

water management in Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and water in Kuwait
Photo 1: Ministry of Electricity and water in Kuwait. (Source: syedfra, Flickr)

Laws and regulations

Table 1 shows the main laws, decrees and resolutions related to water.

Law/year of adoptionScope
Law No. 12/1964 on the pollution of water by oil- This law is composed of 11 articles: prohibition to pollute marine areas and inland waters (art. 1)
Law No 21/1995. Further amended: Law No 16/1996- This is the main environmental law. It established the Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA), with its mandates, jurisdictions and powers. - KEPA’s powers and duties related to environmental protection include developing and controlling public policies, strategies and action plans for the protection of the environment. - The Law 16 amendment of 1996 clarified KEPA’s role in conservation, protection and liability concepts.
Decree No. 5/2012- Decree No. 5 issued the regulation on industrial wastewater transportation, which aims to establish a system to control the transport and disposal of industrial effluents in safe environmental ways that prevent impacts that are harmful to public health, safety and well-being; and establish a database about quality, quantity and sources of industrial effluent.
Law No. 42/2014 on Environmental Protection, amended by Law No. 99/ 2015- This law aims to protect and maintain the natural balance of the environment; combat pollution and its damages; guarantee sustainable development and preserve biodiversity. - It addresses many environmental issues, such as the protection of land, water and air from pollution, biodiversity and environmental management. - Articles 88-96 on drinking water and groundwater quality. - Articles 97-99 on protection of the coastal and marine environment.
Ministerial Resolution No. 203/2019- The resolution issued executive regulations to protect the marine environment from pollution. It established that KEPA shall prepare and follow up the execution of a National Plan for Marine Environment Management. - The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for presiding over the Plan to Combat Marine Pollution through the establishment of a special committee.

Key governmental and non-governmental organizations

Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW)

MEW was established in 1952. Its mission is to provide high-quality electricity and water in Kuwait. In the water sector, it is responsible for securing water demand, rationalizing water consumption, achieving water security and optimizing water resources use, transmission and distribution, as well as water distribution and desalination services.[1] In addition, MEW is responsible for operating and maintaining all of Kuwait’s water systems. Other institutions involved in desalination include the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, Kuwait University, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, the Public Authority for Industry, and the Partnerships Technical Bureau.[2]

Ministry of Public Works (MPW)

The Directorate of Works was established in 1945 and became the Ministry of Public Works in 1962. MPW’s main responsibilities include supervising infrastructure developments, including roads and sewerage projects, overseeing operations and maintenance works of pumping and water stations, project management and maintenance of public buildings.[3]

The Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA)

KEPA was established in 1995.[4] It is a public authority with a legal personality and is attached to the Council of Ministers and supervised by the Supreme Council for the Environment. KEPA is responsible for carrying out all works and tasks to protect the environment in the country, and in particular the following: establishing and implementing the general policy of the state in the matter of environmental protection, developing strategies and action plans for the protection of the environment, and the preservation of natural resources, including water and groundwater resources.

The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR)

PAAFR was established in 1983 and attached to the Council of Ministers.[5] It is responsible for managing agricultural development and enhancing food security.[6] Regarding water management, it is responsible for the design and evaluation of farm irrigation systems, testing irrigation equipment, crop water requirement research, monitoring of groundwater quality and quantity, and water resources planning. The Landscape and Greenery Department is responsible for irrigation designs for highways and forestry areas, and for coordination and cooperation with the MPW regarding the utilization of treated sewage water in landscaping and afforestation.[7]

The Public Authority for Industry

The Public Authority for Industry[8] plays a role in new efforts to establish public-private partnerships and independent water and power projects (IWPP). The first IWPP has been delayed, but the IWPP framework has proved effective in encouraging new technologies in some gulf states, such as Bahrain.

Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS)

KFAS [9] was established in 1976 as a private non-profit organization. The foundation promotes and advocates science, technology and innovation, including in the water field, through the dissemination of knowledge. It targets four key stakeholders: the general public, with an emphasis youth, the scientific and research community and the private and public sectors.

The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR)

KISR[10] was established in 1967 as an independent, national institute of scientific excellence. It was restructured in 1973, where it became directly responsible to the Council of Ministers. KISR’s Water Research Centre (WRC) applies a multidisciplinary approach to address Kuwait’s challenges in water resources management and develop innovative desalination technologies. The centre’s strategy includes programmes focused on making breakthroughs in desalination technologies to meet the need for potable water while mitigating the environmental footprint. The centre also addresses Kuwait’s need to replenish its water reserves and is developing solutions for the reclamation of wastewater effluent.

Financing of the water sector

Kuwait subsidizes about 92% of production costs, making water prices among the lowest in the world. This has encouraged rampant consumption. Despite having among the lowest per capita renewable water resources in the world, Kuwait has one of the highest per capita consumption rates.[11]

[1] Ministry of Electricity and Water website.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ministry of Public Works website.
[4] Kuwait Environment Public Authority website.
[5] Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources website.
[6] Irrigation in the Middle East region in figures. AQUASTAT Survey 2008.
[7] Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources website.
[8] Finan, A and Kazimi, M, 2013. Potential benefits of innovative desalination technology development in Kuwait. Kuwait Center for Natural Resources and the Environment Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
[9] Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences website.
[10] Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research website.
[11] Aljamal, A et al., 2020. Sustainable policy for water pricing in Kuwait. Sustainability, 12(8), 3257.