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Water Wars in the Middle East. Jamie Herskovits & Eric Schorr ... related issues. Without proper political and economic discussion, water issues cannot be ...

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water wars in the middle east

Water Wars in the Middle East

Jamie Herskovits & Eric Schorr

background information
Background Information
  • One of the most critical regions of current and future water scarcity.
  • Has one of the lowest per capita water availabilities worldwide, does not allow enough food production for self sufficiency.
  • Due to high population growth rates and economic development, water demand is rapidly increasing.
  • Climate predictions for the eastern Mediterranean, derived from large-scale climate models, indicate future aridification and increasing variability of precipitation.
  • Trend of draughts in recent years.
background continued
Background (continued)
  • Agriculture and irrigation consume more than two thirds of the regional water resources.
  • Most water sources are located in the upper basin of the Jordan River, from where large amounts of water are exported to the south and beyond the basin.
  • A number of water use conflicts arise from this situation and from the fact that the Jordan River and regional aquifers are transboundary resources.
  • Strategies for sustainable management of the regional water resources have to be based on collaboration between the various regional stakeholders and on a sound scientific knowledge.
  • Tragedy of the commons
crunching numbers
Crunching Numbers

Water Resources and Use (MCM/YR)

regional ecosystems
Regional Ecosystems
  • Diverse
  • Four different bio-geographic regions meet in the Jordan River basin
  • Regional ecosystems very vulnerable to changes in climate, specifically with:

- ecosystem functioning

- species composition

- distribution of vegetation types

current status the conflicts
Current Status – The Conflicts
  • Violence broke out in the mid-1960s over an "all-Arab" plan to divert the river's headwaters (itself a preemptive move to thwart Israel's intention to siphon water from the Sea of Galilee)
  • Israel and Syria sporadically exchanged fire between March 1965 and July 1966. Water-related tensions in the basin persisted for decades and only recently have begun to dissipate.
  • Has always been water conflict between these two nations, for thousands of years. Has come to represent the conflict between the two nations
  • This most arid, populated region has had conflict heighten since the partitioning of the Jewish state
    • Violence between nations increase tension within water related issues
    • Without proper political and economic discussion, water issues cannot be brought to the negotiating table without sustained peace
    • Solving the crisis depends on all parties’ mutual involvement

General methods for averting potential water conflict, include:

  • Promotion of greater water-use efficiency
  • Decrease agricultural consumption by developing more efficient crops and methodologies
  • Sustainable use and management of surface and ground water
  • Promotion of education stressing that water shortages are a common problem requiring cooperative solutions
  • Improvement of communication among those who determine water policy within and across watersheds.
  • Consideration of decision-making at a regional level encompassing multiple watersheds
  • Establishment of a regional commission to manage water jointly, and
  • Greater use of strategic scenarios as management and education tools
  • Some experts asserted that once the political problems in the region are solved the water problems will take care of themselves

Peace treaties

  • 1967 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, the two countries agreed to share the waters of the Jordan River as well as the Yarmouk, a tributary river.
  • Under the terms of the [1991] Oslo agreement, Israel must provide the Palestinian Authority with 57 cubic meters of water per year for each Palestinian.
resolutions continued
Resolutions (continued)

Israeli Resolutions

  • wells
  • pipelines
  • canals
  • recharge basins
  • drip irrigation
  • waste water recharge
  • Desalination

Proposed Plan:

Red Sea-Dead Sea canal/pipeline connection from Aqaba to the Dead Sea. Water will be pumped up 125m/410 ft from the Red Sea to a 45 km long tunnel portal, which will carry it beneath the 220m/722 ft crest of the Arava Valley, then plunge some 533m/1,750 ft to the South Basin of the Dead Sea. This water will be used to generate electricity and can be processed by reverse osmosis for desalination using the available pressure head generated by the extreme fall.

what needs to be done
What Needs To Be Done
  • Development of additional water resources
  • Establishment of proposals to protect the environment.
  • Participation of stakeholders in the development and implementation of the strategy
  • Training of graduates in water and environmental fields.
  • Education of the public in water issues and creating trust in the cooperation process in a transparent and clear way, and by concentrating on benefits and public interests
  • Establishment of joint information and database for the Jordan River Basin
  • Promotion of confidence building measures to reach sustainable cooperation in the place of water and political disputes
  • This gap can only be bridged by improving the management of water resources and use, and the rationing of water with priority for drinking and regional cooperation
  • http://www.glowa.org/eng/jordan/jordan_overview.htm
  • http://yale.edu/ceo/Projects/swap/Project/irrigation.html
  • http://www.wws.princeton.edu/wws401c/geography.html
  • ag.arizona.edu/OALS/ALN/aln44/charrier.html
  • www.irinnews.org/webspecials/runningdry/55528.asp
  • http://www.x-cd.com/usma/prof30.html
  • www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/water/2001/1001fpol.htm