f_0018627_15953 - Water Crisis in the Middle East: An...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Water Crisis in the Middle East: An Opportunity for New Forms of Water Governance and Peace by Joshka Wessels The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) is the most water scarce region in the world. Worldwide, the average water availability per person is close to 7,000 m3/person/year, whereas in the MENA region, only around 1,200 m3/person/year is available. The region also has the highest variability of precipitation in the world. Moreover, with the population expected to grow from around 300 million today to around 500 million in 2025, per capita availability is expected to halve by 2050 -Worldbank, 2009 T HE M IDDLE E AST WATER CRISIS The Middle East, home to 6.3 percent of the world’s population and containing only 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water, is experiencing an increasing water scarcity crisis. 1 The UN presented an alarming report during the last World Water Forum in March 2009 painting a bleak picture of increasing demand and diminishing water supplies. 2 Scientifically, the Middle East ran out of water in the 1970s, by then the overall demand for water was more than the resource could provide. A situation affecting millions of individuals. 3 The Middle East is the most water-scarce region in the world. 4 In 1955, three Arab countries suffered water scarcity; today, that number is eleven and scholars predict seven more nations joining the list by 2025. 5 While population growth plays a huge role in the increased demand, the agricultural sector accounts for more than 70 percent of water use throughout the region. The introduction of pumpwells and massive irrigation schemes nearly doubled the amount of irrigated land between 1965 and 1997. 6 W ATER S CARCITY AND E xAMPLES OF C OOPERATION IN H ISTORY All six of the main rivers in the Middle East (the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Jordan, the Nile, the Litani and the Orontes) have played crucial roles in the Joshka Wessels is a Dutch human geographer and filmmaker with a PhD in Development Studies and a special focus on water and the Middle East. 131
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WESSELS The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations development and sustainability of great civilizations. Each river basin has its own particular characteristics and specific riparian states. Riparian states are states connected by the fact they share a water resource like a river or a groundwater aquifer. Example is the Jordan-Yarmouk river basin that is shared by the riparians Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Therefore, it is impossible to approach the Middle East as a whole in terms of hydrology and hydropolitical features. 7 The overwhelming common denominator in all six basins, however, is the potential of water body management to foster peace and stability in the region. Managing the water supply in the Middle East has always been an integral part of ensuring stability of communities, districts, regions and countries. For thousands of years, the Middle East has been an arid region, and human
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f_0018627_15953 - Water Crisis in the Middle East: An...

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