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Environmental issues in Kuwait

The environmental issues in Kuwait have become the focus of attention for state authorities dealing with industrial, research, scientific, and health related aspects. Environmental awareness in Kuwait is limited. One of the major problems in Kuwait is littering, and coupled with the inflated percentage of waste production, a dramatic deterioration of land is inevitable which is noticeable in some of the residential streets in Kuwait. Many people, despite having affluent backgrounds or good education, nonetheless have a careless attitude towards waste disposal and littering which occurs on a daily basis.

The amount of municipal waste being generated per capita is almost 1.4 kg per day. This is an extremely high number, according to international standards, and in comparison with the international average of 1 kg, Kuwait has some way to go in educating and creating awareness among the wider population about the importance of protecting the environment.

Air pollution is on the increase due to the sandstorms, increased traffic levels, and the emissions from local oil refineries and oil wells. Air quality is continually recorded by the six monitoring stations located throughout the country.

Marine pollution is extremely evident in the form of dumping of various kinds of solid wastes such as industrial, construction, ship wastes and litter that includes unrecyclable plastic and treated and untreated sewage waters in addition to oil leaking from ships and boats.

The incident of fish kill serves as an indicator of pollution or a major imbalance in marine environment due to red tide phenomenon’ resulting from pouring sewage into the sea amidst high temperatures and humidity that eventually led to a lack of oxygen in the water and as a result, the death of fish.

The most alarming environmental danger is mud precipitations that are rich in bacteria that are harmful for both the environment and human beings. They also cause bad odors at the seafront. Dumping non-decomposing substances such as plastic bags and containers, aluminum cans and bottles not only pose environmental threats but also endanger those enjoying the beaches or swimming.

The coral reef islands which support breeding turtles and nesting seabirds have to be protected from heavy visitors, boat fishing or development and pressure from military presence.

Approach to Conservation
There are a number of local organizations that are working hard to protect their natural surroundings and educate the community. Official bodies include ROPME (Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment, formerly known as the Kuwait Action Plan), KEPS (Kuwait Environment Protection Society), KISR (Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research) and the KEPA (Environment Public Authority). NGOs actively involved in protecting the environment include the Kuwait Volunteers Centre, Kuwait Diving Team. There is an annual reef clean-up, usually held in September.

Kuwait is party to international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, environmental modification, hazardous wastes, law of the sea (1986) and ozone layer protection, and has signed two treaties prohibiting the development and use of weapons modifying the environment.