Bahrain Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Bahrain:

1. Hunger

Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain a huge barrier to development in many countries. 795 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2014. With rapid population growth in the Arab region —crossing the threshold of 400 million in 2016— a predominantly harsh arid environment, and many protracted conflicts, food insecurity has become a major challenge for many Arab countries. The Arab region is the only region in the world where poverty has increased since 2010, based on the extreme poverty headcount (population whose income is less than USD 1.25 per day). In 2010, 4 percent of the population of the Arab region was living below the international poverty line of USD 1.25 per day, while 40 percent were living below USD 2.75 per day. 

Based solely on the standard of people living under US$ 1 per day, Bahrain does not suffer from extreme poverty. However, 12.2 % of the population is living below the US$ 5 per day. Uneven distribution of income exists with the richest 20% of the population owning 41.6% of the total income earned.


2. Environment

Much of the growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is due to increases in energy use for power generation and process heat in manufacturing industries. In addition, industrial GHG emissions grew at a faster rate (i.e., 4.8% per year) than the national average due in large part to the increasing role of the manufacturing sector in achieving national economic development objectives, particularly the aluminum and ammonia production industries. 


3. Waste Crisis

Waste is considered one of the major problems associated with urban areas and is exacerbated in small island countries, especially those with rapid population growth and the corresponding increased per capita daily production of waste. In Bahrain this amounts to about 1.5 kg/person/day, which is higher than the global average of 1.2 kg. Solid urban waste accounts for 94% of the total waste generated, while the percentage of collected and transported waste from urban areas to their disposal sites reached 100%. Since 1986, waste has been disposed of in the Mardam or Askar landfills, which are quarries of rocks in southeastern Bahrain. Waste is dumped in these landfills without any prior sorting, processing, or recycling. They are then bonded with heavy machinery and covered with a layer of sand, with this process continuing successively. The Askar landfill received about 2 million tons of waste in 2016.


4. Gender Inequality

In the Arab region, women face high barriers to entry into the labor market and are at a higher risk of unemployment than men. Despite witnessing a slow decrease over the last 15 years from 22.4 percent in 2000 to 19.96 percent in 2015, women’s unemployment rate is more than double that for men in the region at 8.96 percent, and to a world average of 6.2 percent, both for the same year, 2015. Among young women, unemployment rates are the highest in the world, almost double the rates among young Arab men, 48 versus 23 percent.


5. Economic Slowdown

The economy of Bahrain is heavily dependent upon oil and gas. Unemployment, especially among the young, and the depletion of both oil and underground water resources are major long-term economic problems. Bahrain’s GDP for 2018 was $37.75B, a 6.53% increase from 2017.

GDP dipped 0.39 percent, after a revised 3.02 percent gain in the second quarter of 2019. GDP Annual Growth Rate in Bahrain averaged 3.86 percent from 2000 until 2019, reaching an all time high of 11.43 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 and a record low of -2.86 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.