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Institute for Domestic & International Affairs, Inc.

United Nations Development Program Water Rights Director: Stuart Carroll

Š 2010 Institute for Domestic & International Affairs, Inc. (IDIA) This document is solely for use in preparation for Philadelphia Model United Nations 2010. Use for other purposes is not permitted without the express written consent of IDIA. For more information, please write us at

Policy Dilemma ______________________________________________________________ 1 Chronology__________________________________________________________________ 3 1919: Start of Mandate Period in Middle East__________________________________________ 3 1938: Propositions for Water Resource Development in Palestine and Transjordan __________ 3 1945: Beginning of Water Development in Lebanon _____________________________________ 4 1967: Six-Day War ________________________________________________________________ 4 1970: Completion of the Aswan High Dam ____________________________________________ 5 1975: Dispute between Iraq and Syria over Euphrates water _____________________________ 6 1992: International Conference on Water and the Environment___________________________ 6

Actors and Interests ___________________________________________________________ 7 State Governments ________________________________________________________________ 7 Agricultural Sector ________________________________________________________________ 9 Citizens Without Access to Water ___________________________________________________ 10

Possible Causes _____________________________________________________________ 11 Overpopulation __________________________________________________________________ 11 Mismanagement of Water Resources ________________________________________________ 12 Climate Change__________________________________________________________________ 14 Comparison of Causes ____________________________________________________________ 15

Projections and Implications ___________________________________________________ 15 Conclusion _________________________________________________________________ 16 Discussion Questions _________________________________________________________ 17 Bibliography________________________________________________________________ 18 For Further Reading______________________________________________________________ 18 Works Cited_____________________________________________________________________ 19

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Policy Dilemma The scarcity of water resources is a growing issue in states around the world, and has become particularly notable among the majority of nations in the Middle East. The lack of water in the Middle East is largely due to the natural arid topography of the region, and is accentuated by factors such as increased human development, pollution, and misuse of available resources. Although development in the region has increased in recent years, significant advances have been spurned by water scarcity. Environmentalist Paul Harrison details the challenges facing the states of the Middle East: Out of twenty countries in the region, eleven are already using more than half their water resources. Libya, and all the Arabian peninsula save Oman, are using more than 100 percent. They are relying on expensive desalinization of sea-water, or drawing on underground reserves of fossil water that cannot be replenished. And populations in the region are projected to double, triple or in 1 some cases more than quadruple before stabilizing.

One example of water scarcity in the Middle East can be found in the region surrounding the Jordan River basin. The area encompassing Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan has contended with problems arising from water scarcity for much of human civilization. This century old problem, coupled with the Arab-Israeli conflict of recent years, has lead to increased tension in the region. Much of the problem stems from the fact that Israel controls of the majority the water that flows through the Jordan River basin. Roughly forty per cent of Israel’s total water supply originates in the Jordan River. With much of the drinkable water in the basin used by Israel, Jordan faces water shortages each year.2 An ongoing feud also exists between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The three states are each riparian to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, relying on the rivers as sources for drinking and sanitation water. Turkey holds the most political leverage over the use of the water from the rivers, as it lies upstream from the other two states and has unlimited 1

Alain Marcoux “Water Resources Issues in the Arab States Region,” Population Change-Natural ResourcesEnvironment Linkages in the Arab States Region, FAO April 1996. (Accessed: 3 July 2009) 2 Gloria Park, “Crystal Unclear: The Challenges of Water Politics in the Middle East,” Harvard International Review, Winter 2008

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control of water usage. The downstream states are thus left to utilize the remaining water as much as possible; typically not satisfying their water needs. Turkey is currently undergoing an ambitious



Riparian: Refers to any state or individual that occupies land forming a riverbank. Riparian rights: “The right of the owner of the land forming the bank of a river or stream to use water from the waterway for use on the land, such as for drinking water or irrigation. Source: Free Online Law Dictionary

constructing a system of twenty-two dams and nineteen power stations that are projected to limit the flow of water to Iraq to about fifty to eighty per cent of what it currently receives.3 Clean, available water is essential to sustainable development, and is an important aspect of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). Universal access to water resources is seen as a first step toward reducing poverty. The plan includes defining access to water as a human right.4 Currently, approximately one billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water. It is the goal of the United Nations Development Programme to take an integrated approach to water resource management by ensuring effective and fair water governance.5 Currently, the most feasible solutions to the problems posed by water scarcity are the establishment of multilateral agreements between states in regards to sharing water, technological enhancement of existing water infrastructures, and reform in water governance as overseen by the UNDP. Multilateral agreements can prove successful, yet only if the states involved are willing to reach an agreement. Technological upgrades of existing facilities and systems, while beneficial, would prove too costly to be the only solution.6 The Water Governance Programme, while efficient, has not yet been fully


Ibid. UN Development Programme “Fast Facts: Action on Water” 2009 ttachmentID=1868 (Accessed: 22 September 2009) 5 UN Development Programme “Effective Water Governance” (Accessed: 22 September 2009) 6 Gloria Park, 36. 4

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implemented in areas of need. While these already-established solutions have been met with moderate success, a more lasting solution to the water crisis is needed.

Chronology 1919: Start of Mandate Period in Middle East Following the end of World War I, the victorious Allied Powers of Great Britain and France partitioned the conquered territories of the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence known as “mandates”. The French were awarded the lands comprising much of present-day Syria and Lebanon, while the British received territory encompassing Palestine and Jordan. The European powers had a significant economic interest in the Middle East and intended to use their mandates as a means to tap the potential reward that the region could produce.7 The pursuit of extensive development of the mandates by Britain and France was substantially contingent on available water resources. In an agreement of 1924, the two states determined to explore options regarding the usage of water in the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers for irrigation and power generation. The Palestinian Mandate had been witnessing a great influx of Zionist settlers since the issue of the Balfour Declaration. This 1917 document stated the British support of the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people. As thousands of Jews relocated to the “Land of Israel”, the British continued to search for means of developing new water resources.8

1938: Propositions for Water Resource Development in Palestine and Transjordan Between 1935 and 1938, the British entrusted water supply for the Palestinian Mandate to engineer S. Blass, who helped found the Mekorot Water Company. By 1937, the company had supplied 4 million cubic meters of water to Jewish settlements, however it was not sufficient to meet the demands of the growing population. The British were 7

William L. Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2009), 161-170. Elisha Kally, Water and Peace: Water Resources and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993), 5-6. 8

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determined to find a more viable solution to the problem of water supply. In 1938, the United States Department of Agriculture appointed Professor W.C. Lowdermilk to examine means of land conservation in the Middle East. Lowdermilk proposed the creation of the Jordan Valley Authority, mimicking the Tennessee Valley Authority. Although the plan received support from the British as well as the Jewish National Fund, the plan was set aside until after World War II.9 Although various other plans were formulated, each met the same fate of being halted until after the conflict in Europe was resolved.

1945: Beginning of Water Development in Lebanon Prior to World War II, water development in Lebanon had not been proposed. However, after the war, a six-year plan was developed, centering on the Litani project, which would create the Litani River Authority. The plan was stalled numerous times, and it took until 1966 for the main parts of the project to be completed. The plan focused on the creation of a storage dam, two hydroelectric systems, and irrigation projects. The Litani has in the past been considered as a potential water source for Palestine.10

1967: Six-Day War In early 1967, tensions between Israel and surrounding Arab states reached a boiling point that precipitated in armed conflict. One significant contributing factor to the crisis was a dispute over a water diversion plan being implemented in southern Syria. Collaboration between the Syrian and Jordanian governments intended to reroute water flow from the Jordan River, in order to prevent Israeli access to the water. The plan would have redirected the water through Syria and Jordan and cut off flow of water into the Sea of Galilee- an important Israeli aquifer. The crisis escalated when the Israeli Defense Forces bombed the diversion site on multiple occasions in early 1967. This conflict would expand and become the Six-Day War later that year.11 9

Elisha Kally, 6. Ibid. 8. 11 The Six-Day War, “Precursors to War: Immediate Drift,� Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, (Accessed: 6 January 2010). 10

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1970: Completion of the Aswan High Dam Shortly after the British Empire occupied Egypt toward the end of the 19th Century, the Europeans commissioned a project to build a dam across the Nile at Aswan, in order to control flooding and provide additional water storage for agricultural purposes. The dam was completed in 1902, and was raised two times in the first half of the 20th century. By 1950, it was clear that raising the dam a third time would prove less useful than constructing an entirely new dam. After the Free Officers movement brought about Egyptian independence in 1954, serious planning for a new Aswan High Dam was commenced. The dam became a strong political point for the new Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Although Egypt had the manpower necessary for construction, costs were estimated to be as much as $1 billion USD. Without the funds necessary for construction, Nasser turned to the international stage for support. While the World Bank formulated a plan that would pay for the dam with assistance from the United States, the Americans eventually backed out of the plan and Egypt was once again without financial backing. By 1958, Nasser turned to the Soviet Union for support, which was granted in the form of monetary and technical assistance. Construction of the dam commenced, and was finally completed in 1970. The dam allowed for the irrigation of 650,000 feddans of desert land.12 By 1993, nearly 100 per cent of the fifty-five billion cubic meters per year of water brought to Egypt by the Nile was used. Prior to the construction of the Aswan High Dam, most of the water in the Nile flowed unused through Egypt and into the Mediterranean. 13 The Aswan High Dam proved to bring significant economic benefits to Egypt; however, ecological side effectshave proven detrimental to the state. The aquaculture of the Nile has suffered due to the manipulation of water flow. The silt produced by the

12 13

William L. Cleveland, 310-317. Elisha Kally, 36

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river had historically helped increase the fertility of surrounding terrain after floods, but is now trapped behind the dam.14

1975: Dispute between Iraq and Syria over Euphrates water Beginning in 1974, Iraq had grown irritated at a Syrian dam building project on the Euphrates River. Iraq alleged that the al-Thawra dam in Syria had reduced the flow of water downstream, and threatens military action against the dam. The following year, lower flow rates lead the Syrians to fill their dams with even more water from the Euphrates, which reduced the water flow in Iraq even more. Iraq then called for Arab League intervention in order to settle the dispute. After the Syrians pulled out of discussions, tensions grew even more between the states as both prepared for an armed engagement. War was narrowly prevented after the intervention of Saudi Arabia as a mediator.15

1992: International Conference on Water and the Environment In January of 1992, a conference was held in Dublin in order to recognize and address the issue of water scarcity. The conference produced the Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development; an agreement between representatives of over a hundred states, as well as eighty international, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations. In its “Principles”, the document acknowledged the importance of water to human life, the need for full participatory involvement in development schemes by members from multiple levels of society, the role of women in water management, and the economic value of water. The “Action Agenda” section of the statement focuses on addressing the potential benefits of the recommendations of the Dublin conference. Such benefits include alleviation of poverty and disease, water conservation and reuse, sustainable urban 14

Ibid. Peter H. Gleick, “Water Conflict Chronology,” Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, 10 November 2008. (Accessed: 28 January 2010). 15

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development, agricultural production and rural water supply, and resolving water conflicts. The goal of the Dublin Statement is to encourage the implementation of the various recommendations by states throughout the world in order to achieve more sustainable and environmentally sound water development.16 Shortly following the Dublin Conference, the UN Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro. This conference echoed many of the sentiments of the Dublin Conference, including holistic management of freshwater resources.17

Actors and Interests State Governments The agenda of national governments in regards to water governance is to control and utilize as much water as possible, in order to guarantee the availability of water to its citizens as well as to the private economic sector. The ability of a state to efficiently deliver a satisfactory amount of water to the parties in demand is directly related to the status of development within that nation. Typically, advanced, developed states implement effective governance of their water resources due to a well-established hierarchy of administration as well as sound infrastructures for delivery of the water. Developing nations, however, usually lack these characteristics, and thus have relatively inefficient water governance. In many contexts, “water governance” refers to the intra-state policies and administration of water within a given state. It encompasses the rights of those interested in attaining water resources within a state, being either a private entity or the public sector. However, within the Middle East water rights and governance more commonly refers to the inter-state disputes and conflicts that have arisen between different nations claiming to be riparian to common waterways. These disputes are largely noted to be the greatest contributing factor to the lack of cooperative water management in the region. 16

International Conference on Water and the Environment, “The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development,” UN Documents, (Accessed: 6 January 2010). 17 Hussein A. Amery and Aaron T. Wolf, “Water in the Middle East: A Geography of Peace,” (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2000) 3-4.

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The most prominent conflicts of water control in the region can be found in the basins of the Tigris-Euphrates, Jordan, and Nile rivers. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers originate in Turkey, and then flow downstream to Syria and Iraq. The conflict exists between these states over fair usage of water resources, with Turkey holding the most leverage as the upper-riparian state, and Iraq holding the least as the lowest of the three. In the Levant, a crisis exists between Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, and Syria over control of water resources of the Jordan. Israel utilizes the most water out of this group. While there has been significant cooperation between Israel and Jordan of late, the relationship between Israel and Syria over water has been antagonistic for years. On the Nile, Egypt is almost fully dependent on the waterway for its commerce and well-being. Likewise, upper-riparian nations such as Sudan and Kenya have experienced considerable growth thanks to the river, yet their increased exploitation of the water has lead to shortages in Egypt. While inter-state conflicts over water rights are most prominent in the Middle East, there are a considerable number of states with water stress due solely to a lack of resources within their territory. Saudi Arabia, for example, is highly dependent on deepwater wells, which are nonrenewable and highly susceptible to pollution. In addition to its intra-state issues, Saudi Arabia has increased tensions with Qatar and Bahrain due to its dependence on underground aquifers that are utilized by both nations. Although a significantly wealthy state, relative to the region, Saudi Arabia has been unable to successfully invest in desalination methods, which are cost-prohibitive. In Yemen, many experts say the nation is only years away from completely lacking any replenishable fresh water.18 The overall goal of each state is clear; each government aims to secure the maximum amount of water resources possible. While cooperation is seen as a method of ensuring that outcome for all states, there are counterarguments against it. For some states, an ideological disagreement between the different parties prevents cooperation on 18

Ilan Berman and Paul Michael Wihbey, “The New Water Politics of the Middle East,� Strategic Review, 1999. (Accessed: 30 January 2010).

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any level. In some other cases, certain states do not want to put themselves in a position of dependence by agreeing bilaterally with another state on allocating water resources. The political landscape in the Middle East has seemingly endless obstacles and conflicts of interest that undoubtedly affect the outcome of negotiations over water governance.19

Agricultural Sector Water is not only important for human survival; it is crucial for the development of private industry, and perhaps most notably agriculture. Especially in the Middle East, agriculture is an important factor economically. The arid climate of the region allows for little fertile farmland, forcing many states to have to import food rather than rely on a self-supportive, sustainable agricultural sector. Naturally, the existence of agriculture in numerous Middle Eastern states alleviates the pressures of poverty. Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of water resources in the region, further development of the agricultural sector is limited. Agriculture accounts for 80 per cent of total water consumption in the Middle East, while the region holds less than .5 per cent of the world’s fresh water. As important as farming is to the region, its overwhelming use of available water resources constrains municipal and industrial use, as well as development.20 Throughout the world, farming is not only an occupation, but also the livelihood of those who work in agriculture. High crop yield is extremely important to farmers in order to be profitable, and the ability to successfully grow crops is dependent on the availability of water. It is thus important for farmers to have access to considerable amounts of water. Any types of restrictions that could be levied against farmers by a given state would likely be met with resistance by the farming community. This highlights the desire of the agricultural sector to maintain the status quo of current water usage.


Ibid. Michael Kurtzig, “Imports Rising in Middle East and North Africa,� Agricultural Outlook, United States Department of Agriculture, June/July 1999. (Accessed: 26 January 2010). 20

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There are some potential actions that could be taken by both state administrations and the agricultural sector in order to alleviate the strain of water resources. An example from North America highlights the cooperation of the United States and Mexican governments in finding a viable solution to conserving water resources. By utilizing an existing binational program, known as North American Development Bank, the two states launched an irrigation conservation program budgeted at $80 million USD in order to alleviate the consequences of an ongoing drought. The Rio Grande and Rio Bravo basins had been experiencing significant water stress, affecting both the agricultural and municipal sector. The two states acted in order to help both areas find more stability, while also maximizing the efficiency of irrigation systems in order to lower the demand of water in the agricultural sector.21 Although the Middle East faces a significantly greater crisis in water management, principles that have been successfully applied in other areas of the world still demand serious consideration. The feasibility of similar programs being initiated in the Middle East is challenged most notably by the lack of cooperative relationships between states in the region. As the region is also still developing in many areas, the implementation of such multinational conservation strategies would likely call for increased financial investment. Furthermore, the consent and support of local farmers is integral to the success of any such plans.

Citizens Without Access to Water Citizens without access to clean, safe water face a state of constant poverty. The human body is highly dependent on fresh water for survival- even more so than it is for food. Lacking access to clean water not only is detrimental for drinking purposes, but also for sanitation. When citizens lack the access to basic sanitation, they are more susceptible to contracting diseases. Hygiene is an important factor in good health. For those without water, this crisis supercedes any other challenge to living a satisfactory life. 21

Lujan Alvarez, “Agricultural Irrigation Conservation Projects in the Delicias, Chihuahua Irrigation District� Environmental Defense Fund, May 2003. (Accessed: 26 January 2010).

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People without access to water typically lack not only the resource itself but also the monetary support necessary to purchase such commodities. As water is a scarce and valuable resource in the Middle East, it is expensive. Those unable to pay for the water are commonly citizens of lower socioeconomic standing. In developing nations, this constitutes a high percentage of the population. Although it is widely considered that access to water is a basic human right, in many instances such a scenario is not logistically or financially feasible. While citizens in the Middle East who lack access to water clearly desire an outcome that would lead to the improvement of their situation, they do not stand in a position from which they can directly influence the process. They are almost completely dependent on their state governments for supply of water, and cannot contend to lower its costs. These citizens continue to rely increasingly on foreign and international aid to survive while their governments attempt to secure ever-disappearing water resources.

Possible Causes Overpopulation One significant contributing factor to the water scarcity dilemma facing the Middle East is the significantly high rate of population growth. The region has always faced water shortages, yet the fact that states in the Middle East are growing faster than anywhere else in the world has accentuated problems such as water availability. In the Middle East and North Africa, the population is growing at a rate of about 2.2 per cent per year. States can face two levels of water shortages; water stress and water scarcity. Water stress occurs when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 cubic meters per person. Between the levels of 1,700 and 1,000 cubic meters per person, periodic water shortages can occur. Water scarcity occurs when a state averages less than 1,000 cubic meters per person.22


Population Information Program, “Population Reports: Population Growth, Water Shortages,� Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, (Accessed: 6 January 2010).

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The population in the Middle East more than doubled between 1970 and 2001. It rose from 173 million people to 386 million people in those 31 years, while reducing the average amount of fresh water available per capita from 3,645 to 1,640. However, these numbers do not take into account the fact that three quarters of the freshwater available in the region are located in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Although the birthrate has declined, the considerable number of Middle East citizens reaching reproductive age is causing the population numbers to continue rising drastically. Steps have been taken on the international level to try and stabilize population growth. In 1994, the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development was held in order to discuss solutions for achieving a sustainable level of population growth in states throughout the world. The resolutions proposed at the conference called for states to focus on human development in order to improve people’s lives while also offering reproductive health information in order to slow growth.23

Mismanagement of Water Resources Another cause leading to the current state of water scarcity is mismanagement of water resources. This can occur due to the actions of governments, private industries, or individual members of society. Mismanagement can exist due to pollution, overuse of available resources, and lack of cooperation between state governments. The tendencies for each of these scenarios to exist can consistently be found in states throughout the Middle East. Pollution is a clear contributor in determining the scarcity of water in certain areas. Water that is polluted can prove difficult or impossible to purify in order to be used for drinking or sanitation purposes. Pollution often occurs due to lack of laws prohibiting the dumping of sewage and other hazardous materials into a water source. It can commonly be found in urban areas, where water sources that are used for large populations can be rendered unusable due to the release of sewage into the source. However, it can also be 23

Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, “Finding the Balance: Population and Water Scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa,” Population Reference Bureau, (Accessed: 7 January 2010) 2-7.

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witnessed in rural settings, as agricultural industries pollute much of surrounding groundwater and rivers with pesticides and fertilizers. Another factor in water mismanagement is overuse or misuse of available resources. Agriculture again appears as a catalyst for this form of mismanagement. In the entire Middle East region, more than 85 per cent of extracted fresh water is used in agriculture. This substantial use of water in a single private industry clearly strains the amount of water available to individual citizens. However, while there is an exceptional amount of water being dedicated to agriculture, the Middle East still imports over $12 billion USD worth of food annually. This suggests that the region is dependent on outside sources for food. Thus, while a significant percentage of water is being consumed by the agricultural sector, the region’s farms do not yield a sustainable amount of food. Another example of overuse can be found in the sprawling usage of irrigation systems. Such systems can damage ecosystems and inhibit the natural flow of waterways.24 The final facet to water mismanagement is the lack of cooperation between states, either bilaterally or regionally. Conflicts can be found in the Jordan basin, along the Euphrates, and on the Nile. The multiple states in the Jordan basin- Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian territories- are riparian to the Jordan River and depend on it for significant percentages of their water resources. The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, however, has stalled any potential for cooperation in properly utilizing the water of the Jordan. In the Tigris-Euphrates basin, Iraq and Syria and both substantially dependent on water flowing downstream from Turkey. The Turks, however, have engaged in an ambitious dam building program that captures or reroutes much of the water in the rivers, causing shortages for the states downstream.25 On the Nile, Egypt has for centuries found its lifeline in the river that flows through its territory, but in recent years, irrigation


Anders Jagerskog, “Water Resources in the Middle East,” Stockholm International Water Institute, n_Energy_Seminar.pdf (Accessed: 7 January 2010) 25 Franklin M. Fisher and Hossein Askari, “Optimal Water Management in the Middle East and Other Regions,” Finance and Development, September 2001.

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projects in states upstream, such as Ethiopia and Kenya, have slowed the water flow downstream.26

Climate Change The availability of water resources has always been affected by changing climate patterns. Droughts and rainy seasons are caused by the unpredictable shifts in climate. For centuries, humans have needed to contend with natural forces when attempting to utilize water resources. This fact accentuates existing water scarcity issues of the present day, especially in the Middle East. In addition to typical changes in climate, more lasting effects such as global warming have an even more dire influence on water resources. Lebanon can be used as an example of a Middle East state that is significantly affected by changes in climate. In a typical year, Lebanon experiences rainfall that far exceeds the averages of other states in the region. However, changes in temperature could potentially cause the rainy season to be cut short, significantly reducing the availability of fresh water resources. More long-term implications from global warming include coastal flooding and desertification. This would prove particularly disastrous to the state as much of the population is situated along the coastline.27 In June of 2008, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined in their Technical Paper IV on Climate Change Water that there is significant evidence to suggest that freshwater resources are vulnerable to negative effects from climate change, and hold the potential for wide-ranging consequences for human societies as well as ecosystems.28 While these negative impacts seem inevitable, solutions have been proposed that would allow for adaptation to changing climatic effects, although such proposals are both expensive and require significant shifts in policy.


Roudi-Fahimi, 7. E. Bou-Zeid and M. El-Fadel, “Climate Change and Water Resources in Lebanon and the Middle East,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management; September/October 2002, 348. 28 Environment & Energy, “Adaptation to Climate Change,” United Nations Development Programme, (Accessed: 7 January 2010). 27

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Comparison of Causes The three causes of water scarcity are each significantly influenced by some form of human involvement. Overpopulation, while difficult to control, is a common product of a developing society, and creates numerous challenges beyond water scarcity. Water mismanagement is a direct effect of human action upon existing water resources, and can be considered the most notable of the three causes. Climate change, while disputed and gradual, can also be found to be a product of human action. The fact that each cause can be traced back to some form of human involvement suggests the possibility of certain steps being taken to address these causes and reduce the severity of the problem. Some facets of the causes can be addressed individually by states, as part of a domestic initiative, while others require international cooperation. Overpopulation and pollution are causes that can be addressed by states on their own accord, while disputed water claims and climatic effects would likely require the attention of an international audience. While the various causes bear similarities, each is distinctive enough to require specific acknowledgment.

Projections and Implications The future will undoubtedly bring increased shortages in water and further tensions over shared water resources between states, so long as no significant cooperation can be made. The region’s dependence on nonrenewable water resources, such as underground aquifers, suggests that there will be less available water in the Middle East in the coming years. The growing population of the region will exponentially strain water availability. Global warming and other climactic effects could potentially cause drastic changes in the environment, leading to an unsure status of water resources in the region. As the resources grow fewer, armed conflicts may arise as states contend for what is left.

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Conclusion The problematic situation with water rights and availability in the Middle East is a hindrance to regional security, as well as further development. Lack of water leads to poverty in some areas, and can adversely affect the economic output of some states. The lack of regional cooperation between states can be seen as a contributing factor to the crisis. Ongoing situations such as the Arab-Israeli conflict complicate the problem even further. As globalization is rapidly occurring across the world, the Middle East faces challenges with adapting and modernizing to global standards. While this phenomenon offers some positive contributions to this developing region, the problems facing the Middle East, such as water scarcity, can likely only be solved with actions by the states in question.

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Discussion Questions • In what ways do existing political tensions influence the current water situation in the Middle East?

• What effect does water scarcity have on poverty, disease? • Have any previous international agreements or treaties alleviated water stress in any cases?

• In what ways does the agricultural sector challenge establishing executable solutions?

• How might any prospective solutions address the needs of the municipal, industrial, and agricultural sectors? Does any sector take priority?

• Do existing UNDP water programs sufficiently address the situation in the Middle East?

• How significant are some of the proposed indirect causes of water scarcity, such as global warming and overpopulation? How can they be addressed?

• What is the economic value of water? Is water a commodity that can/should be privately traded?

• Do nations potentially disadvantage themselves by becoming dependent on foreign sources of water?

PhilMUN 2010 Bibliography For Further Reading Allan, Tony. The Middle East Water Question London, I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2001 Tony Allan, a renowned professor of geography and water analyst, offers an in-depth assessment of water in the Middle East. His book explores the current status of water in the Middle East, its economic implications, influence on international relations and law, and predicts the future of the crisis. Mr. Allan is credited with establishing the theory of ‘virtual water’, and is noted for his scholarly contributions to the topic of water governance.

Kally, Elisha. Water and Peace Westport, CT. Praeger Publishers, 1993 Kally is an experienced water consultant stationed in Israel. His book details the role of water in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He offers a historical perspective on the issue as well as analysis of recent events. Kally notes the ways in which prospects for better water governance and cooperation are contingent on lasting peace in the region, as well as how such peace can only be realized through cooperative water governance.


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Works Cited Alvarez, Lujan “Agricultural Irrigation Conservation Projects in the Delicias, Chihuahua Irrigation District” Environmental Defense Fund, May 2003. (Accessed: 26 January 2010). Amery, Hussein A. and Wolf, Aaron T. “Water in the Middle East: A Geography of Peace,” (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2000) 3-4. Berman, Ilan and Wihbey, Paul Michael “The New Water Politics of the Middle East,” Strategic Review, 1999. (Accessed: 30 January 2010). Bou-Zeid, E. and El-Fadel, M. “Climate Change and Water Resources in Lebanon and the Middle East,” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management; September/October 2002. Cleveland, William L. A History of the Modern Middle East, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2009). Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, “Precursors to War: Immediate Drift,” The Six-Day War, (Accessed: 6 January 2010). Fisher, Franklin M. and Askari, Hossein “Optimal Water Management in the Middle East and Other Regions,” Finance and Development, September 2001. Gleick, Peter H. “Water Conflict Chronology,” Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, 10 November 2008. f (Accessed: 28 January 2010). International Conference on Water and the Environment, “The Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development,” UN Documents, (Accessed: 6 January 2010). Jagerskog, Anders “Water Resources in the Middle East,” Stockholm International Water Institute, WWW_PDF/Resources/2009_18tue/Backg_report_Water_ME_Water_n_Energy_ Seminar.pdf (Accessed: 7 January 2010).

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Kally, Elisha Water and Peace: Water Resources and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993). Kurtzig, Michael “Imports Rising in Middle East and North Africa,” Agricultural Outlook, United States Department of Agriculture, June/July 1999. (Accessed: 26 January 2010). Marcoux, Alain “Water Resources Issues in the Arab States Region,” Population Change-Natural Resources-Environment Linkages in the Arab States Region, FAO April 1996. (Accessed: 3 July 2009). Park, Gloria “Crystal Unclear: The Challenges of Water Politics in the Middle East,” Harvard International Review, Winter 2008 =dad34104-02b7-45ee-b5c3-b5ca02d6243b%40sessionmgr11 Population Information Program, “Population Reports: Population Growth, Water Shortages,” Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, (Accessed: 6 January 2010). Roudi-Fahimi, Farzaneh “Finding the Balance: Population and Water Scarcity in the Middle East and North Africa,” Population Reference Bureau, (Accessed: 7 January 2010). United Nations Development Programme “Adaptation to Climate Change,” Environment & Energy, (Accessed: 7 January 2010). United Nations Development Programme “Effective Water Governance” (Accessed: 22 September 2009). United Nations Development Programme “Fast Facts: Action on Water” 2009 ary&action=GetFile&DocumentAttachmentID=1868 (Accessed: 22 September 2009).


Water Rights Director: Stuart Carroll Institute for Domestic & International Affairs, Inc. © 2010 Institute for Domestic & Internati...