Water in the Middle East and in North Africa: Resources, Protection and Management
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Its goals are to:. The project provides a structured opportunity to boost the development of participating countries, share new methods for improved water management, improve planning at all levels of governance and address unemployment and poverty. State-of-the-art instruments, tools, approaches and insights will be used to bridge the gap between partners in the MENA region. Replicable approaches and methods can be transferred both within the MENA region and beyond, while harmonisation with other development interventions will also be promoted.
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We offer a flexible mechanism for cooperation, delivering results through our office network and regional presence. Mission statement. Founding documents. Our priorities and directions of work are defined every five years. In this region, water, like oil, cannot be separated from politics. For example Turkey, as an upstream state of the Tigris-Euphrates basin, has used its strategic position as a leverage to advance its national or regional interests. Egypt, on the other hand, is a downstream state, meaning its supply is more vulnerably and it had threatened to go to war to protect its so-called acquired rights over the waters of the Nile.
Both are transboundary—meaning that, under international law, they should be shared in an equitable and reasonable manner by Israel and Palestine. However, since Israel took over the West Bank in , it has remained in full control over water resources in the area.
While the agreement was supposed to last five years only, 20 years later, it is still in place. Apart from being used as a political tool, water can also be one of the triggers for violent conflict. It was, for example, a major factor in the outbreak of the Six Day War in Disagreements over water began in , when Israel attempted to divert the Upper Jordan River to the National Water Carrier, a pipeline which carries water from the Sea of Galilee to the Negev desert.
This is widely recognised as the beginning of water competition between Israel and the Arab states.
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In relation to the conflict in Darfur, the United Nations Environmental Programme UNEP declared in that regional climate variability, water scarcity, and loss of fertile land were underlying factors for the conflict to break out. This, combined with ethnic and religious tensions, helped ignite the conflict in this region. The major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates basin are seen not only as strategic targets but also as powerful weapons of war.
IS has also launched repeated offensives to capture the Iraqi Mosul and Haditha dams, the two largest in the country. Though water scarcity may not be a determinant trigger of conflict, it can compound other underlying factors to spark tense relations. However, as current developments in the region indicate, cooperation seems to be the most likely outcome. Water is a vital resource to all nations involved, and a prolonged fight over scarce resources goes beyond the military realms of power of any of these countries.
Cooperation to successfully manage and cope with water scarcity has proven to yield more benefits than conflict. Water scarcity can encourage peace talks between competing states to ensure future stability and resolution of conflict. Water-sharing agreements governing shared resources such as the Nile are the way forward for the MENA region in order to avoid hydrological poverty and the harsh economic and human consequences this entails, especially as the gap between supply and demand widens in the future.
Water in the Middle East and in North Africa
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The Second World Water Forum. The Hague. March, 17— Regional cooperation between countries in the management of shared water resources: Case studies of some countries in the ESCWA region. New York: United Nations. Wingqvist, G. A concept note on water in the MENA region.
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