London: Glaciers become the largest supplier of water to some of Asia’s major river basins during droughts, fulfilling the basic needs of 221 million people when water shortages are at their worst, a study has found. The study, published in journal Nature, has important economic and social implications for a region that is vulnerable to drought. Climate change is causing most of the region’s glaciers to shrink. Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in the UK, said that the melt-water is important for the people living downstream when the rains fail and water shortages are at their worst. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’According to researchers, each summer, glaciers release 36 cubic kilometres of water — equivalent to 14 million Olympic swimming pools — to these rivers. This is enough water to cater to the needs of 221 million people. The high-mountain region of Asia, known as the Third Pole, including the Himalayas, has 95,000 glaciers in total. About 800 million people are partly dependent on their melt-water. However, this supply is unsustainable because climate change is causing the region’s glaciers to lose 1.6 times more water than they gain each year from new snowfall. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaResearchers analysed estimates of the glacier contribution with the amount of precipitation in average years and in drought years. They used climate datasets and hydrological modelling to calculate the volume of glacier water entering and leaving the region’s major river basins. “Even in high-mountain Asia, they are remote and cover quite a small part of the region. It turns out that they are particularly valuable to society as a natural store of water that keeps the rivers flowing through summer, even through long droughts,” Pritchard said. Against a background of increasing drought-related water and food shortages and malnutrition, which have been predicted with high confidence for the coming decades, Pritchard said that Asia’s glaciers will play an increasingly important part in protecting downstream populations from drought-induced spikes in water stress.
Rabat – Morocco’s first fully “Halal” bank is set to open its doors in September.According to the Moroccan Association of the Professionals of Participatory Finance (AMFP), the operation will take effect as soon as the central bank has given its approval.“Before September or October, the first bank compliant with Sharia will be launched,” said Said Amaghdir, AMFP director. “Morocco’s financing needs are enormous, particularly in the financing of projects and the stability we have here is in favor of the kingdom.” In January, the Moroccan government adopted a bill regulating Sharia compliant banking products and allows foreign Islamic banks to operate in the Moroccan banking sector. Abdellatif Jouahiri, governor of Morocco’s central bank said that Bank Al-Maghrib received requests from foreign entities to invest in the Moroccan Islamic banking sector, adding that these requests are being reviewed before starting any potential negotiations with concerned stakeholders.AMFP estimates that the investments in Islamic finance will reach $7 billion in 2018. Mohamed El Kettani, CEO of the Attijariwafa Bank Group whose Islamic bank subsidiary, Dar Assafaa is set to become the first financial institution fully compliant with the principles of the Islamic Sharia (law) in Morocco, said that Islamic finance can represent 10 percent of the banking market in 10 years. “We are already leaders of the market and we want to remain the same under the new law.”Islamic banks differ from normal banks in the concept of “interest”. In conventional banking, the relation between the bank and the client is that of creditor and debtor, whereas in Islamic banking the relation is that of partners, investors and trader, buyer and seller.