World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Water Issues in Mena Countries - Bridging Divides for Water at National and International Level (490) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 2.30-4.30pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Istituto di Studi sulle Società del Mediterraneo (ISSM) – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) /Università degli Studi di Napoli “l’Orientale”

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Eugenia Ferragina and René Georges Maury

· NOT_DEFINED language: English, Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: Water is becoming more a more a conflict driver not in the sense of an explosion of water wars as was supposed some years ago by many scholars but as a factor that increases inequalities both at a global and local level contributing to world uncertainty and political instability. Water divides are common in the MENA countries both inside the countries and in relation to one another. At a national level we see an uneven allocation of water involving different economic sectors and in particular a strong competition between agricultural and domestic use. Water for food and water for energy are the main competitors for water, both limited by the need to guarantee access to water and sanitation to a growing population. The competition is exacerbated by the fact that the undernourishment is increasing and the situation will get worse in the next few decades owing to the effects of climatic change. The water divides are also evident at a national level if we consider the unequal distribution of water and sanitation services between urban and rural areas, the lack of water infrastructure in informal settlements surrounding the urban areas or simply the water insecurity affecting the poorest parts of the cities. The water crisis seems to depend more on the unequal distribution of power and wealth at national and international level than on the physical availability of water. Other important issues of future water management concern the governance of shared water resources both in the case of transboundary watercourses and groundwater fields. The lack of supranational institutions able to regulate the use of common resources on the basis of intergenerational equity principles – the basic principle of sustainable development - and the growing pressure over renewable and non renewable water resources pave the way to a future global water crisis. One of the contributions will focus its attention over the current exploitation of shared fossil groundwater in the South Mediterranean basin. The panel will try to give a contribution to the debate concerning an equitable management of shared water resources and the reduction of water divides affecting human security and social justice.

Chair: Eugenia Ferragina and René Georges Maury, Istituto di Studi sulle Società del Mediterraneo (ISSM) – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR); Università degli Studi di Napoli “l’Orientale”

Paper presenter: Prof. Hatif Hamdi, Institut Agronomiques Méditerranéen, Bari, Italy; Centre International d’Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes (CIHEAM), Montpellier, France;
“Bridging the Divides between Water Supply and Demand: The Scarcity Challenge”
In the Middle East region, a growing number of States are experiencing rising or even permanent water stress. Climate change consequences will increase the number of countries, experiencing high variability in water resources availability, including high frequencies or intensities of floods and droughts. Competition over water can heighten tension and, even, lead to open conflict. The natural aridity characterizing this area ensures that balancing the supply/demand equation involves complexities not found in more temperate climes. This lay down a particular difficult challenge to water policy developers and managers with the scarcity playing out a number of levels: scarcity of physical resource, scarcity of organizational capacity and scarcity of accountability for achieving sustainable outcome.
In the region, the scarcity challenge has been predominantly met by increases in supply sources through engineering projects, however, to date, such approach is questionable and for many countries efforts are now directed towards shifting from the supply water management to the demand one. Indeed, to bridge the divides that result from the scarcity challenge, a multi-sectorial, multi-stakeholder, multi-governance level set of approaches is needed. Political will and commitment from all governments at all levels are prerequisites for successful water scarcity management. Equally, water resources policy must also be coordinated with other natural resources and sectorial policies, such as land use management and spatial planning. Coping water scarcity is always a long and complex process, however, there are many routes that can be followed and to be tailored to reflect environmental, hydrological, political, economical, social and cultural circumstances. In the Middle East, for bridging the gaps in water resources use and management, it is a must to move beyond engineering schemes to an understanding of water through integrating multiple practices reinforced with the development of knowledge bases and institutional capacities. This is the essence of this paper.

Paper presenter: Prof. Jean Margat, Plan Bleu (UNEP) Centre d’Activités Régionales, Environnement et Développement en Méditerranée, Sophie Antipolis Valbonne, France
“Essai de cartographie originale des ressources en eau de l'ensemble de la région du Middle East”
Les politiques de l'eau et les stratégies d'approvisionnement en eau et d'aménagement des eaux doivent tout particulièrement dans le Moyen-Orient se baser sur la géographie très contrastée des types et des grandeurs des ressources en eau, dans cette région qui cumule la coexistence de ressources renouvelables internes -elles-mêmes très inégalement distribuées- de ressources renouvelables externes et de ressources non renouvelables. Une cartographie appropriée peut utilement présenter une vision synthétique de ces contrastes en classant les territoires à partir de la typologie spécifique suivante:
1 . Ressources en eau renouvelables internes prédominantes:
1.a Superficielles et irrégulières;
1.b Superficielles et souterraines associées, à composante régulière notable;
2 . Ressources en eau non renouvelables prédominantes;
3 . Vecteurs de ressources en eau externes;
(Cours d'eau ou aquifères transfrontières).
Les domaines à ressources en eau renouvelables prédominantes (classe 1) peuvent eux-mêmes être subdivisés en plusieurs zones selon les apports moyens annuels (en fonction des degrés d'aridité), par exemple, en mm/an: <10, 10 à 50, > 50 .
La maquette d'une carte à petite échelle construite suivant cette typologie est présentée.

Paper presenter: Prof. René Georges Maury, Università degli Studi di Napoli “l’Orientale”, Napoli, Italy
“L'évolution récente des questions de l'eau en Syrie dans le contexte géopolitique, économique et social. La situation du grand projet de l'Euphrate syrien entre Turquie et Iraq”
À l’heure des grandes sécheresses et d’une profonde crise économique et sociale en Syrie, dans un difficile contexte géopolitique interne, régional et international, on en a oublié le grand Projet de l’Euphrate et son grand et quasi mythique barrage de Tabqa-Thawra, ses grands lots irrigués et la formidable opération de réaménagement du territoire autour des deux mythiques fleuves et autres (Euphrate mais aussi une partie du Tigre, et encore l’Oronte, etc.), qui était alors un phare de propagande et d’espoir pour le pays b’assiste à croissance démographique encore soutenue, au développement lent et contradictoire, dans le contexte régional instable, et en plus des questions internationales de partage des eaux, avec les proches grands projets hydrauliques, comme le GAP en Turquie, devenu plus ou trop célèbre, et la continuation des grands projets iraquiens de la Mésopotamie, puis stoppés ou ralentis par les troubles, et tant d’autres projets (Jordanie, Liban, Israël, Palestine, Iran).
Il s’agit ici de faire le point sur le grand Euphrate’s Project après l’abandon, dans les années 1990, du soutien technique et financier soviétique et de l’Europe orientale à la Syrie, dans le cadre national de l’état actuel des ressources hydriques, des projets hydrauliques, passés, présents et futurs, et du développement du pays arabe, entre Turquie,Iraq et autres.

Paper presenter: Simona Benfenati, Università di Bologna, Italy
“From Environmental Challenges to Potential Cooperation. How Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian Communities Identify Cross Border Solutions to their Shared Water Crisis: Evidences from Case Studies”
The complex Arab-Israeli conflict numbers among its different issues the fight over the control of local water sources. The transnational nature of the shared waters, free to move within the territory of Israel, Palestine and Jordan without respecting any political borders, attracts experts and researchers attention who see the regional cooperation on common water resources as the long-lasting peace solution. The promotion of cooperation activities for the safeguard of the common natural patrimony and the realization of initiatives of sustainable development find an original evidence in the interdependency concept of shared water resources between more territories. This principle is translated into a concrete work on the ground: the Good Water Neighbors Project (GWNP) fostered since 2002 by the non-governmental organization Friends of the Earth Middle East, FoEME. The GWNP aims to promote environmental education and advance human security among many Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian communities on either side of the borders sharing groundwater and/or surface water resources. The Project thereby seeks to encourage dialogue and cooperation on sustainable water management, to build trust and understanding around water issues in order to lead to common problem solving and peace building between communities and to advance a real improvement on a broad range of questions beyond water resources.
These objectives have been possible thanks to a wide series of initiatives in the field of the environmental awareness and the social empowerment. Using local development and participation approaches, trust building actions, environmental peacebuilding and applying bottom-up strategies inside this specific conflict context, the GWNP represents an innovative experiment. The water issues and the environmental protection have thus become the main tool to succeed in stimulating the mutual exchange and the peace dialogue. The Project has activated a process of progressive responsibility enabling people to participate to the social and civic life of their own communities. In fact, the participation to the GWN Project has put each member in a position to develop a critical ability, to improve his own competency and awareness: at the end everyone has strengthened his own power of choice by mutual dialogue, comparisons and the work on the ground.

Paper presenter: Desirée A. L. Quagliarotti, Istituto di Studi sulle Società del Mediterraneo (ISSM); Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Napoli, Italy
“The Overexploitation of Fossil Water: The Great Man-Made River Project Study-Case”
Similar to most countries of the southeaster Mediterranean region, Libya has always been in a delicate balances between the limited available of water resources and the basic water needs of the population. The situation has been exacerbated by unchecked population growth demanding more food and a better standard of living under conditions of scarcity, poor resource management and low production efficiency as a result of adapting a self-sufficing policy in food. The available renewable water resources are insufficient to meet the present rate of expansion on a sustainable basis. The gap between renewable water supply and utilizations has been filled through overdraft and mining of groundwater aquifers. The result has been seawater intrusion and soil salinization in agricultural areas. After the discovery of fresh groundwater in the deserts of southern Libya, the local government has made huge efforts to address its water deficit problems, mainly through the implementation of The Great Manmade River Project. The Libyan authority implemented the hydraulic infrastructure needed to withdraw and transport this fossil water to various demand sites along its Mediterranean coast where most of the population lives. Actually there is an over-exploitation of fossil groundwater resources due to the rapid development of agricultural activity, expansion of irrigated areas and over irrigation practices. The supply-driven approach for water management has demonstrated its inability to deliver a substantial degree of water sustainability on the national level. Despite the strenuous efforts made by the country, it still faces serious water deficits due to continuously increasing water demands beyond the limits of its available water resources. As pressure on water converges on the country's fossil water resources, an immediate reconsideration of agricultural water extractions is needed and appropriate actions have to be implemented in response to its huge consumption. A reorganisation of the water consumption pattern is needed in order to maintain the country's living standard and to ensure the economic security for the future generation. This could be achieved by reviewing the agricultural water policy; developing additional non-conventional sources of water supply; introducing measures able to allocate water supply to the different consumptive sectors efficiently as well as ensure environmental protection.