The EU 2012 Blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources The main aim of EU water policy is to ensure that a sufficient quantity of good quality water is available for people’s legitimate needs and for the environment. Since the 1970s, through a variety of measures, the EU has worked to create effective and coherent water policy. In 2000, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) established a legal basis to ensure that Europe’s lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater aquifers are in a healthy state by 2015. But the goal is threatened by numerous challenges including water pollution, water abstraction for agriculture and energy production, land use and the impacts of climate change. The policy response to these challenges is the forthcoming 2012 Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources. It will aim to ensure a sustainable balance between water demand and supply, taking into account the needs of both people and the natural ecosystems they depend on.
66 Land use. Ongoing studies on Natural Water Retention Measures should identify the most relevant measures to be implemented to reduce flood risk while also providing other benefits such as water provision, biodiversity protection and carbon storage. 66 Economic incentives for efficient management of water resources. The Blueprint should propose recommendations to use tools such as water pricing and tax incentives to reflect the true cost of water use and pollution. 66 Water efficiency targets. To calculate optimum water use, the gap between water demand and availability needs to be quantified. Using water and ecosystem accounts, the Blueprint will provide indicative water efficiency targets – at EU, Member State, river basin and sectoral levels. It will also look at ways to improve water efficiency in buildings and distribution networks. 66 Innovation in water resource management. The Blueprint will be complemented by an Innovation Partnership with stakeholders, via which innovative solutions can be identified, tested and disseminated. 66 Governance in water policy. The Blueprint will look at ways to improve governance, and the potential to reduce administrative burden, while reinforcing coordination and coherence. 66 The knowledge base for water policy making. The Blueprint will seek improvements in statistics on pressure exerted by all activities on water resources, the enhancement of the Water Information System for Europe (WISE), and the development of a roadmap for water research. 66 The global dimension of water resource management. The Blueprint will take into account the worldwide effects of water policy and reinforce the EU’s commitment to achieve the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals on access to drinking water and sanitation, while taking into account relevant outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference.
For more information contact ENV-BLUEPRINT-EU-WATERS@ec.europa.eu, or see http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/blueprint/index_en.htm
© European Union, 2012
© Digital Vision
The Blueprint’s policy recommendations will be based on the results of a number of assessments, including analysis of River Basin Management Plans, the review of the 2007 Policy on Water Scarcity and Drought, the outcome of the ‘Fitness Check’ of EU freshwater policy and a gap analysis to identify any uncovered areas and assess the adequacy of the current framework.
The Blueprint should suggest actions in specific areas such as:
Water around the Mediterranean
“The unity of the Mediterranean thus lies, paradoxically, in its swirling changeablility […] Its opposing shores are close enough to permit easy contact, but far enough apart to allow societies to develop distinctively under the influence of their hinterland as well as of one another.” David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean
Inspired by the shared diversity of the Medi terranean region, Revolve’s Special Report on Water Around the Mediterranean fea tures a varied content of interviews, case studies, opinion pieces and photo essays from across the region. Contributions by leading water experts, young science jour nalists, key decision-makers and environ mental science students further add to the range of perspectives and insights offered. This report is divided into eight themes. Each theme features an introductory fact sheet summarizing key facts and figures for the Mediterranean region as a whole. This general information is followed by a case study or feature article, which offer specific examples of the issues at hand. A series of interviews, opinion pieces and articles further complement the coverage of each theme.
Report editor Francesca de Châtel Assistant editor Contributors Yosra Albakkar, Odeh Al-Jayyousi, Fuad Bateh, Natasha Bhushan, Diana Biller, Catherine Brown, Matt Danforth, Hanan El-Youssef, Tamaron Greene, François Guerber, Munther Haddadin, Nuria Hernández-Mora, Francesc La Roca, Gaspar Mairal, Theib Oweis, Sheila Saia, Jan Schippers, Mohammed Shehada, Hanan Solayman, Mohammed Yahia, Mark Zeitoun Photographers Ad van Denderen, George Haddad, Adel Samara Graphic Design Filipa Rosa Maps Mathieu Gargam, the T.H Studio Cover Filipa Rosa
Special thanks to Inès Abdelrazak at the UfM, Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé at IDRC, Jauad el-Kharraz at EMWIS/SEMIDE, Clive Lipchin at AIES, Ghada Snunu at EWASH oPt, Gaëlle Thivet at Plan Bleu, and Marina Castrinakis, Qais Fares, Günes Kocatepe, Gabriel Reyes and Bostjan Videmsek. Revolve Magazine (ISSN 2033-2912) is registered in Belgium, BE 0828.676.740. For subscription and submission inquiries, please use: firstname.lastname@example.org For all energy coverage and project proposals, please use: email@example.com For all water-related topics, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org Revolve Magazine is printed with vegetable ink on chlorine-free paper. Revolve is grateful to the Environment & Water Division within the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat for endorsing this special report on Water Around the Mediterranean. Disclaimer: Articles in this report do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat and only represent the views of the contributors.
Stuart Reigeluth 90
06 | THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
The Middle Sea | One Partnership, 43 Countries | Q&A: Rafiq Husseini, UfM
18 | TRANS BOUNDARY WATER MANAGEMENT
The Jordan River: Declining, Disappearing, Endangered | Bitter Harvest
28 | CLIMATE CHANGE Facing the Tide | Inundations Submerge the Northern Mediterranean
34 | LEAVING THE LAND
38 | AGRICULTURE
Cretan Village Reconnects with its Water | The Fallacy of Irrigation Modernization | Egypt’s Rooftop Revolution
53 | POLLUTION 19
A Gaza Water Diary | Q&A: Rebhi al-Sheikh, PWA
60 | WATER GOVERNANCE
Building a New Water Culture in Spain | Q&A: Mahmoud Abu Zeid & Safwat Abdel-Dayem, AWC | Reflections on Water Governance in a Changing World
| Q&A: Ramón Luis Valcárcel, ARLEM | Breaking Down Barriers
74 | WATER LEGISLATION 50
A Model Water Code for the Mediterranean | Strengthening Legislation to Improve Governance
82 | NON-CONVENTIONAL SOURCES OF WATER 54
How Desalination Works | Q&A: Ronald Mollinger, MEDRC | Drinking the Sea at Gaza | The Water-Energy Nexus in the Mediterranean
90 | SO BLUE SO BLUE 39
Average depth: 1,500 meters Deepest recorded point: 5,267 meters in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea Length of coastline: 46,000km, 40% of which is built up
Μεσόγειος Θάλασσα Akdeniz Mar Mediterráneo Mer Méditerranée Sredozemsko more
Surface area: 2.5m km2
33% of the Mediterranean population lives on the coast. Over 275 million tourists visited the Mediterranean region in 2007, making it the most popular tourism destination in the world. The Mediterranean is one of the most biologically diverse seas in the world: while it makes up for just 0.8% of the world’s ocean area, the sea is home to 8% of all known marine species and 18% of marine flora. Over 12,000 species have been recorded in the Mediterranean. 1.7m tons of fish are caught in the Mediterranean each year, resulting in severe depletion of fish stocks. 19% of Mediterranean known species are endangered and 1% are already extinct. Mediterranean monk seals are among the 10 most endangered species in the world. Of the 47 Mediterranean shark species, 20 are at risk of extinction. As part of efforts to protect the sea’s biodiversity, the Mediterranean states have established more than 800 Special Protected Areas (SPAs) covering an area of 144,000 km2 or 5,7% of the sea. Every year, 30% of international maritime freight traffic and 28% of global maritime oil transport transits the Mediterranean Sea.
Source: UNEP/MAP-Plan Bleu, WWF, Lenfest Ocean Program
The Battle of Lepanto in 1571, H. Letter. Source: National Maritime Museum (BHC0261), London, UK
The Middle Sea Writer: Francesca de Châtel
Often referred to as a cradle of civilizations, the Mediterranean has a long history of interaction and exchange, but also of conflict and contradictions. For all the economic, geopolitical and religious differences that divide the region today, shared environmental challenges increasingly unite the people around the sea in the search for a sustainable future.
“The Mediterranean is a miracle,” accord ing to historian John Julius Norwich: not only has it nurtured three of the most daz zling civilizations of Antiquity and witnessed the birth of three of the greatest religions; it has also served as a key means of com munication between the European, African and Asian continents. From the time of the sea-faring Phoe nician civilization [see p. 10] in the 16th century BC, the sea has been an essential vehicle for commercial and cultural exchange: the Egyptians brought cedar wood across the sea from Mount Lebanon to build their temples in the Nile
“We inhabit a small portion of the earth… living round the sea like ants and frogs round a pond.” Plato, Phaedo
Valley, while the Romans imported cereal and papyrus from Ptolemaic Egypt to the imperial capital – Rome.
from classical Greek, Arabic and ancient Hebrew into Latin and Castilian, awakening Europe from its medieval slumber.
Ideas and knowledge also flowed across the sea: the 8th-century Umayyad Caliphate stretched from the capital, Damascus, across North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula, where its influence is still felt today in thousands of Spanish words derived from Arabic. Four centuries later, scholars at the Toledo School translated scientific and philosophical works
Nautical maps from the Middle Ages show the sea crisscrossed with trade routes over which merchants, mariners, scholars and travelers “commuted” regularly between Spain and Egypt, and from Marseille to the Levant, generating a history of cosmo politan exchange in centers of learning like Cairo, Istanbul, Tyre, Venice and Fez.
One Sea, Many Names The first mention of the name Mediterranean appears in the 7th century AD when the scholar Isidore of Seville wrote: “It is called mediterraneus because it flows through the middle of the earth.” Earlier the Ancient Egyptians referred to the sea as the Great Green, while in the Bible it is simply the Great Sea. To the Ancient Greeks it was the Sea over by Us and the Romans called it Mare Nostrum, Our Sea. In Turkish it is the White Sea, in Arabic the White Middle Sea.
There were also conflicts and conquests, as Muslim invaders swept across North Africa and deep into Europe, Napoleon launched his campaign in Egypt and Syria, and the Ottoman Empire expanded around the Mediterranean. The rise and fall of empires left their marks around the sea, forging a shared history but also fomenting divisions that endure today. The 20th-century French historian Fernand Braudel described the Mediterranean as “speaking many voices” and being “the sum of individual histories”. At the same time, he believed in the “unity and coher ence of the Mediterranean” with the con viction that “the Turkish Mediterranean lived and breathed with the same rhythms as the Christian, that the whole sea shared a common destiny, a heavy one indeed, with identical problems and general trends if not identical consequences.”
Fishing port off the island of Arwad, Syria. Source: Adel Samara
Environmental challenges The region is thus fragmented and united; divided by economic disparities, geopoliti cal tensions and cultural differences, but also connected in its tumultuous shared past and, increasingly, a stark environ mental reality in which climate change and water scarcity threaten future livelihoods. Sixty percent of the world’s “water poor” population (disposing of less than 1000m3/ person/year) lives in the Mediterranean, one of the world’s most water-scarce regions that comprises just 3 percent of the world’s water resources. Of a total population of 460 million in the Mediter ranean region, 120 million live in a situa tion of water stress with less than 1000m3/ person/year, and a further 60 million in conditions of water scarcity with less than 500m3/person/year. Rapid population growth on the southern and eastern shores – where two-thirds of the region’s population is concentrated – and rising living standards have led to a doubling in water demand in Mediterra
nean countries over the last 50 years to reach 280bn m3/year in 2007. The unequal distribution of water resources over space and time forms a further chal lenge. “The eastern- and southern-rim countries receive only a quarter and a tenth of the region’s total water resources respectively,” said Gaëlle Thivet of Plan Bleu, a regional activity center run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). Water scarcity in Egypt, Israel, Libya, Malta, Syria and the Gaza Strip is leading to unsustainable water use and over-abstrac tion from non-renewable sources such as fossil aquifers. Thivet added that water quality is also increasingly under pressure. “Many aquifers, particularly in the north, show excessively high contents of pesticides or nitrates,” she said. “Twenty-seven million people in the region are deprived of access to improved sanitation systems, mainly in the south and east. Many rivers around the sea suffer chronic pollution due to untreated domestic and industrial discharges.” This pollution also affects the sea itself
with contamination from urban, agricul tural and industrial sources placing marine and coastal ecosystems at risk. The UNEP estimates that 650m tons of sewage and 129,000 tons of mineral oil are released into the Mediterranean each year. With two-thirds of the Mediterranean popula tion living in cities today, many countries are unable to cope with the high rate of urbanization in coastal areas. Climate change also affects the sea’s water quality. “Climate change is already having an impact on the marine environment,” said Didier Sauzade of Plan Bleu. “This is likely to escalate swiftly, increasing seawater temperatures and coastal erosion, altering salinity and currents, causing acidification and a serious decline in biodiversity.” Fish stocks and diversity of species in the Eastern Mediterranean are affected by the rise in salinity that is caused by higher evaporation rates, but also by reduced freshwater inflow from the Nile River since the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt. Low-lying coastal areas are also at risk from climate change and the predicted rise in sea levels.
Partnerships across the sea In the face of mounting environmental threats, a series of regional initiatives has achieved some results over the past decades, with programs to protect coastal zones, combat pollution and protect marine ecosystems. Many of these initiatives were launched in the framework of the 1995 Barcelona Pro cess, a partnership between European Union member states and Mediterranean countries that stagnated and was then revived with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean in 2008 [see pp. 14 and 16]. One such initiative is the UNEP-MAP Stra tegic Partnership for the Mediterranean Large Marine Ecosystem (MedPartnership), a €76-million project launched in 2009 to reverse biodiversity degradation in the Mediterranean region. The program is being implemented in close association with the
Horizon 2020 initiative, a Euro-Mediterra nean project to de-pollute the Mediterra nean by tackling pollution from municipal waste and industrial and urban wastewater. The MedPartnership is also pursuing efforts to establish marine protected areas, a pro cess which was launched in 1995 with the adoption of a Special Protected Areas and Biodiversity Protocol in the Mediterranean.
"The Mediterranean is an absurdly small sea; the length and greatness of its history makes us dream it larger than it is." Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet
Such initiatives and others that seek to encourage dialogue and exchange offer the greatest opportunity for sustainable coop eration around the sea on a basis of joint ownership, linking environmental policymaking to development issues in a regional platform for positive change. Francesca de Châtel is the editor of Revolve Water Around the Mediterranean.
The Purple People From 1550BC to 300BC, Phoenician merchants dominated the commercial sea routes in the Mediterranean, trading timber, glass and slaves but also purple dye, which they extracted from Murex snails found along the Eastern Mediterranean coast. The dye was expensive and highly sought after because it did not fade in sunlight. Thus Tyrian purple – named after the city of Tyre in current-day Lebanon – became a status symbol in Antiquity. The enterprising Phoenicians crossed the Mediterranean in galleys and other light vessels, and established commercial ties as far afield as Sardinia, Carthage, Egypt and Spain, creating, according to the 20th-century historian Fernand Braudel, an early example of a “world economy” surrounded by empires. Known in Classical Greece and Rome as “traders in purple”, the Phoenicians were also responsible for developing the first alphabet, which they disseminated along Mediterranean trade routes in North Africa and Europe. The Phoenician legacy to the world of water is also significant: the 7th-century BC pre-Socratic philosopher Thales of Miletus, who was described by Aristotle as the founder of natural philosophy, was the son of Phoenician noblemen. Thales was the first to seek an explanation for natural phenomena beyond the realm of mythology, and famously said that water was the primary or originating principle from which all things come into being.
Map of the Eastern Mediterranean. HM 34. Portolan Atlas, anonymous. France (?), ca. 1600. Source: berkeley.edu
“ The earth is round like a sphere, and the waters adhere to it and are maintained on it through natural equilibrium which suffers no variation.” Muhammad al-Idrisi
Introductory summary overview map from al-Idrisi's 1154 world atlas. Note that south is at the top of the map. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Al-Idrisi and the Tabula Rogeriana Born in Ceuta, today a Spanish enclave on Morocco’s Mediter ranean coast, Muhammad al-Idrisi (1099-1165) was a cartog rapher and geographer who traveled around the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. He spent his last 18 years in the court of the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, for whom he produced in 1154 a description of the world and a world map, which are commonly referred to as the Tabula Rogeriana (The Book of Roger). The map is oriented with north at the bottom: the Arab world is in the cen ter of the map and the Iberian Peninsula is to the far right, with Europe located beneath North Africa. Despite the inverted orien tation, the Tabula Rogeriana is surprisingly accurate considering the technology of the 12th century. It remained the most accurate world map for the next three centuries. Notice the Nile: the river
flows naturally downward from central Africa (Upper Nile) through the Delta (Lower Nile) into the Mediterranean Sea. Al-Idrisi is the protagonist of A Sultan in Palermo, a novel by the British-Pakistani historian and novelist Tariq Ali. In it, al-Idrisi is described as the “Commander of Maps” and says the following: “If the Sultan permits I would like to write a universal geography. I will map the world we know and seek out the lands still unknown to us. This will be useful to our merchants and the commanders of our ships. This great city is the centre of the world. Merchants and travelers stop here before going West or East. They can provide us with much information.”
(Next page) Tabula Rogeriana, Muhammad al-Idrisi. Source: © Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) – Paris
One Partnership 43 Countries Less than two years after its creation, the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat’s Environment & Water Division has spearheaded several regional initiatives that lay the foundation for a common vision around the Mediterranean. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is a multilateral partnership among 43 coun tries in Europe, West Asia, North Africa and the Balkans, representing an overall popu lation of 800 million citizens. Launched on 13 July 2008 at the Paris Summit, the UfM is a continuation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, also known as the Barcelona Process that was launched in 1995. The UfM forms a framework for enhanced political, economic and social relations among the partner countries. It also repre sents a strong political commitment to fur ther regional integration and to transform the Mediterranean into an area of peace, democracy, cooperation and prosperity. The UfM Secretariat headquarters opened its doors in Barcelona in March 2010 with the aim of promoting concrete economic and social projects that impact people’s lives and create a real partnership among members on an equal-footing basis.
UfM projects: who, what, how?
The UfM Secretariat is the technical means towards achieving the political ends of the UfM. As a project coordination platform, it seeks out regional, sub-regional, trans national or national projects within the framework of regional initiatives which correspond to the UfM priority areas: depollution of the Mediterranean; maritime transport and urban development; civil society and civil protection; the Mediter ranean Solar Plan; higher education and research; and promotion of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The Secretariat works in synergy with other key stakeholders in the EuroMediterranean region, including the UfM Parliamentary Assembly, the Euro-Medi terranean Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities (ARLEM) [see p. 70] and the Anna Lindh Foundation. The UfM label is attributed by the 43 mem ber countries' Senior Officials to projects that are seen to deliver concrete benefits to citizens, enhance exchange and con tribute to regional integration. The label helps to raise awareness and support, and to mobilize other implementation partners. Once a project is labeled, the Secretariat plays a catalytic role in securing financing by developing – with the project promoters – a strong network of donors and financiers from the Mediterranean region and beyond. In April 2011, the UfM Senior Officials adopted a set of guidelines for the processing of proj ects through six stages, from a concept pro posal to post-completion monitoring. The first stage is crucial and demonstrates the Sec retariat’s proactive role in building networks, finding partners and identifying good ideas. The UfM Secretariat gathers project con cepts from various sources: from ministerial meetings to national or regional authorities, but also private-sector companies, NGOs, think tanks and others. Promoters can pres ent projects individually if they are deemed to have a profound regional/sub-regional impact or fall within an approved strategy, such as Horizon 2020 that focuses on the de-pollution of the Mediterranean. One of the main challenges in this context is that most project proposals have a national – instead of a regional – character. The Secretariat there fore brings promoters together to encourage the merging of ideas and concepts in order to create a regional project.
The Division for Environment & Water is currently working on several regional initiatives and frameworks for action. Hav ing received a mandate for the facilitation of the Horizon 2020 initiative, the Division works closely with the European Commis sion, UNEP-Mediterranean Action Plan, and other institutions to promote projects dealing with de-pollution and the protection of the marine environment within the framework of the Barcelona Convention. In addition, the Division has several project ideas in the pipeline that require further elaboration with promoters before they can be submitted for the UfM label, including: • infrastructural projects, such as reuse of treated wastewater for the cultivation of green belts around cities, and the management of sewage and waste for the preservation of ecosystems. • training, through the creation of subregional centers for water professionals. • studies, into public-private partnerships on regulatory frameworks and financing opportunities for water infrastructure projects. • capacity building, to strengthen environmental NGOs through institutional capacity building and small-scale funding.
For more information : www.ufmsecretariat.org
The Mediterranean off the coast of Tripoli, Lebanon. Source: George Haddad
Q&A: Source: UfM
Rafiq Husseini, UfM Revolve speaks to the deputy secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean Environment & Water Division about the challenge of developing a Mediterranean water strategy.
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is a young organization. What are the priority areas that you are focusing on and which concrete projects are you working on at the moment? The UfM was established in 2008, but the Secretariat, which is mandated to do the technical work, only started working in January 2011, while our project guidelines were approved in April 2011. This means that we are a very new organization, but we have had to prove our worth immediately as a technical organization by identifying regional, sub-regional or transnational projects to work on. Our task is to identify, design – and sometimes redesign – the projects that promoters from across the region submit, in order to develop them into regional or sub-regional projects. This is where we have an important overview role to play, bringing together different promoters who are working on the same topics and amalgamating their ideas. This is especially relevant because many countries in the region face similar problems. Once a project is formulated, we also help the promoters to seek funding. In this respect we also aim to reach out to parties beyond Europe – in the Arab world for example. We believe these parties should also become more involved in projects in
Arab countries around the Mediterranean. However, we also face challenges: it is difficult to identify regional projects, as countries tend to submit national projects. In addition, the UfM is not a funding agency as such, and we have no budget to support projects financially.
“It is the UfM’s job to minimize mistrust between Mediterranean countries and encourage cooperation through joint projects.” The projects we are currently working on fall into different categories. The first UfMendorsed project is the Gaza desalination project, which is an infrastructural project [see p. 87]. In addition, we are also working on the strengthening of information systems; capacity building for NGOs; and river basin studies among
others. All these projects are at different stages in the pipeline: from the Gaza project, which has already been approved and labeled, to a study project in the Jordan River Basin, which still requires a lot of work [for more on UfM projects, see p. 14]. The Mediterranean is one of the most arid regions in the world, but there are differences in the degree of aridity around the sea and the ability to cope with this aridity. How can water-related problems in the region be addressed? The Mediterranean region faces two distinct problems. In the south, aridity is a growing problem, while the north is increasingly facing problems of flooding, which generate economic and other losses. Our approach to these problems is by definition regional: we do not look at the countries per se, but at regions and sub-regions. Despite the conflicts between countries, there are also common regional enemies, such as desertification, pollution, water scarcity, climate change and global warming, which we need to confront together. These cannot be tackled by individual countries. In this context, it is important to find projects that countries can carry out jointly.
“We need to focus on protecting the water resources we have and encouraging innovation to create new resources. We have to do everything we can to protect every single drop of water.”
Do you see a link between the Arab uprisings and water? One of the key demands of protesters around the Arab region this year has been an end to corruption, particularly the illegal appropriation of public property, whether land or water. Water – especially in the southern countries – is seen as a gift from God, and there is a strong cultural perception that it is and should remain a public good. We encourage Public-Private Partnerships, but with the understanding that they should be based on ironclad guarantees that the public domain is not violated, that there is no nepotism and no corruption. Do you think the protests in the Arab world will have an impact on water governance? Most definitely. As democracy takes hold in the region, accountability will become essential: the new governments have to find ways to secure public assets. This requires the establishment of a strict regulatory framework and accountability mechanisms to reassure the public that these assets are protected. Do you think decision-makers are sufficiently aware of the threat of climate change and water scarcity in the Mediterranean region? I think they are aware, but it is not a priority for them. Politicians are still thinking in terms of quick gains and solving immediate problems. Our task is to encourage them to take action on longer-term threats: we
are supporting the organization of a UfMministerial meeting on the environment, and we are encouraging the development of long-term strategies and the making of firm commitments. At the same time, we need to communicate with the general public and create awareness of the common challenges we face. We need champions – popular figures who enjoy public trust – who can place the issue in the public domain. Between 50 and 90 percent of water resources in the Mediterranean go to irrigated agriculture. In light of the predicted impact of climate change, do you think there is a future for agriculture in this arid region? This region has always been very fertile. Agriculture has always been a main feature in the Mediterranean and it needs to be preserved. On the one hand, we have to protect the land. In many countries, good agricultural land has been lost as cities and towns expand. On the other hand, we have to make better use of watersaving technologies – drip irrigation and information technology – to save water. In addition, we have to look at crop choices and ensure we optimize crop variety. Agriculture will remain a priority and a national security issue for many countries in the region. We therefore need to deal with this issue scientifically rather than ignoring it or trying to remove it from the agenda. Is there such a thing as a Mediterranean identity, and is there enough goodwill among the countries
to build upon such a shared identity to develop a common strategy for water management around the sea? The Mediterranean region is full of diversity, but at the same time there is a shared identity. Diversity is in a way part of the Mediterranean identity. I believe there will be a strengthening of that Mediterranean identity. This is also what the UfM stands for: coming together and becoming prosperous. If I did not believe that this was possible, I would not be here doing this job. Data availability and data sharing is a problem in many parts of the Mediterranean. How can data sharing and harmonization be improved? First of all, there is a lot of missing data, which is why it is important to strengthen data collection and information systems nationally. But there is also a misconception about the strategic importance of this data and the need for confidentiality. I do not deny that there are conflicts between countries, but I believe these conflicts can be resolved. Through history, we have seen countries completely destroyed by conflict, only to reconcile and come together to cooperate and build a future together. This is why we have to believe that human nature aspires to a brighter future in which conflicts will be replaced by cooperation and mutual trust. The UfM’s job is to minimize mistrust and encourage cooperation through joint projects. How do you see the future of water resources in the Mediterranean? What will the region look like in 25 years? We are moving towards a future in which there will be less resources, higher demand, growing population and therefore we need to focus on protecting the resources we have and encouraging innovation to create new water resources. We have to do everything we can to protect every single drop of water.
Read the full interview : www.revolve-magazine.com
la gestion des eaux transfrontalières sınır aşan sular için su yönetimi prekogranično upravljanje vodom ΔΙΑΚΡΑΤΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΧΕΙΡΙΣΗ ΥΔΑΤΩΝ gestión transfronteriza del agua
transboundary water management
Globally, there are 263 watersheds that cross the political boundaries of two or more countries, representing about half of the Earth’s land surface and 40% of the global population. These percentages increase significantly in parts of the Mediterranean. For example, in South-Eastern Europe 90% of the area lies in international basins. Some of the most complicated water conflicts in the world are located in the Mediterranean. Disagreement over the basin of the Jordan River, quite small compared to the larger Nile and Tigris-Euphrates, involves Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. There have been multiple serious clashes over the Tigris and Euphrates in the last four decades and problems remain unresolved. Transboundary aquifers pose unique problems because they are essentially non-renewable. The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System extends underneath four countries – Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Chad – and is the world's largest fossil aquifer system. All four countries have formally agreed to joint monitoring and sharing of information but the project has made little progress since 2000. The North-West Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) covers an area of roughly 670,000km2 beneath Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. There are no formal legal instruments governing the management of the NWSAS, although there is an informal joint research agreement. Important legal frameworks and documents on transboundary water management include: • The United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses • The 2008 International Law Commission (ILC) Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers • The Helsinki Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes • The Aarhus Convention • The EU Water Framework Directive
Sources: Ganoulis, Water Resources Management and Environmental Security in Mediterranean Transboundary River Basin (2004); GWP-Med & MIO-ECSDE; UN World Water Assessment Programme; UNESCO; Schmidt, A case study of the North West Sahara Aquifer System (2009); 'Aquifers: Deep Waters Slowly Drying Up', The Economist (Oct. 7, 2010).
The banks of the Zarqa river, Jordan.
The Jordan River:
Declining, Disappearing, Endangered Greater regional cooperation could help limit the impact of growing water scarcity in the Jordan River Basin. However, prospects for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River itself remain bleak.
Lynch describes the river as “deep, narrow, and impetuous… It curved and twisted north, south, east and west, turning, in the short space of half an hour, to every quar ter of the compass, seeming as if desirous to prolong its luxuriant meanderings in the calm and silent valley, and reluctant to pour its sweet and sacred waters into the accursed bosom of the bitter sea.”
On November 20, 1847, Commander Wil liam F. Lynch sailed out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a crew of 14 men on the first US Expedition to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. Equipped with two boats, Lynch and his crew spent several months sailing down the Jordan River from its sources at the foot of Mt. Hermon to the shores of the Dead Sea in the south. The travel diary that Lynch kept during the trip was published in 1853 and remains one of the most vivid accounts of the Jordan River in its natural state.
Today, barely a drop of water reaches that “bitter sea”. Salty and surreal, the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth, and the final reservoir for water in the Jordan River Basin. According to research by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), a regional NGO, Israel, Jordan and Syria divert more than 98 percent of the Jordan River for agricultural and domestic purposes. The result is that the flow of the Lower Jordan River has declined from its historic level of around 1.3bn m3 per year in the 1930s
Writers & photographers: Yosra Albakkar & Catherine Brown
to a mere 20-30Mm3 in 2009. This has in turn led to a 33-meter drop in the level of the Dead Sea, reducing its historic surface area by a third.
Gidon Bromberg, FoEME’s Israeli direc tor, fears that “the Jordan River will run dry within months” if the five countries of the Jordan River Basin – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine – do not take immediate action. However, ongoing regional conflict has stymied all diplomatic efforts to negoti ate an equitable water-sharing agreement between the five countries of the Jordan River, let alone a solution to the environmen tal tragedy unfolding in the Jordan Valley.
Plate from Lynch’s travel narrative showing pilgrims bathing in the Jordan River in 1849. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Israel, Syria and Lebanon are still formally in a state of war. Israel maintains unilateral control over the water resources in the Golan Heights and the West Bank since the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordanian citizens must secure permits from Jordanian secu rity services in order to access the river, while Palestinians have not had access to it since 1967 when Israel declared the west bank of the Jordan River a closed military zone.
“The environment has been a hostage to the conflict.” Nader al-Khateeb, Palestinian Director, Friends of the Earth Middle East
Hostage to the conflict Water resources have paid the highest price in this regional stalemate, accord ing to Nader al-Khateeb, the Palestinian director of FoEME. “The environment has been a hostage to the conflict,” he said. “Our problems cannot be tackled by one country. Directing our efforts towards resource allocation, rather than military operations, may open more doors for regional cooperation. We cannot wait until there is peace to reach a final agreement over water.” But it is precisely the absence of a final agreement that has allowed Israel, Jordan and Syria to develop large-scale diversion schemes over the past 60 years, gradu ally siphoning off the entire flow of the Jordan River.
In 1951, Jordan announced a plan to divert 160Mm3 of water per year from the Yarmouk river, the Jordan River’s larg est tributary, to irrigate the Jordan Valley via the King Abdullah Canal. At about the same time, Syria began the construction of a series of dams along the Yarmouk as part of a water control and irrigation scheme, reducing its flow by an additional 315Mm3 per year. In 1964, Israel completed its National Water Carrier, an extensive water diversion scheme that pipes water west from the Sea of Galilee and then south to the Negev Desert, as part of a national plan to “make the desert bloom”. Succes sive diversions and the completion of an additional Syrian-Jordanian dam on the Yarmouk in 2007 have further reduced the flow of the Jordan River.
Sewage canal Today, the Lower Jordan River has practi cally run dry. What Lynch once described as “the music of the river, gushing with a sound like that of shawms and cymbals”, can be detected only in the water slipping under control gates along the King Abdul lah Canal, or over the shallow stones in the Lower Jordan. The waterfalls, cascades and rapids that Lynch described have com pletely vanished and with them hundreds of endemic species. According to Bromberg, alterations to the local environment have contributed to a 50 percent reduction in local biodiversity over the past 50 years. The water that Lynch once described as “clear and sweet” is now brown and murky. A report published in 2009 by the Interna tional Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimated that 30Mm3 of raw sewage is released into the Lower Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee each year.
when we say that this is holy water. The Jor dan River is actually a sewage canal.” The river’s reduced flow has also had disas trous effects on the Dead Sea. The level of the sea has fallen over 30 meters in the last century and continues to decline at a rate of one meter per year, causing the shoreline to recede by 1km in places. Today, tourists vis iting the few seafront hotels and spa resorts that remain open on the Israeli shores tumble to the sea in a make-shift shuttle, carting between the indoor hot springs at their hotel and the muddy shore of the Dead Sea in an open-air wagon. The rapid decline of the Dead Sea’s water level has also triggered the formation of over 1,000 sinkholes along its shoreline. Sinkholes can reach 10 meters in depth and
“The Jordan River doesn’t flow anymore,” said Abdel Rahman Sultan, the Jordanian deputy director of FoEME. “What flows in the river is pure run-off. This is sad for nature, sad for religion. We are lying to Christians
25 meters in width, jeopardizing the safety of the local population. Several campsites near Kibbutz Ein Gedi on the Israeli shore of the Dead Sea have been closed down after a worker fell into a sinkhole, while parts of date plantations have subsided and new sinkholes threaten the integrity of roads and other infrastructure along the sea’s shore. Experts believe that the sea will never dis appear entirely and that it will eventually stabilize at 100-130 meters beneath its current level of minus 428 meters thanks to the presence of underground springs. The sea’s continued shrinking will, however, have disastrous effects on the local tourist industry and agricultural activity. Already today, all development plans have been fro zen and many agricultural areas deliberately abandoned for fear of future sinkholes.
“The Jordan River doesn’t flow anymore. We are lying to Christians when we say this is holy water. The Jordan River is actually a sewage canal.” Abdel Rahman Sultan, Jordanian Deputy Director, Friends of the Earth Middle East
Bethany beyond the Jordan, the baptism site of Jesus Christ, Jordan
The threat of climate change looming over the region further exacerbates fears of water scarcity. “Climate change is going to affect us,” said al-Khateeb. “We cannot really ignore it. Last year, we had less than 70 percent of the average annual rainfall. Water tables are dropping and it is going to become worse and worse for Palestin ian communities that rely on springs for drinking water: the springs are dry.” AlKhateeb believes that such changes in the weather pattern are “a sign to deci sion-makers that we need a plan to face regional climate change”.
The prospects for the Jordan River Basin are bleak. Rapid population growth – the basin’s population is predicted to grow from 41 million in 2008 to 70 million in 2050 – coupled with a 2-3°C increase in regional temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns, will continue to strain water resources. By 2020, demand for water is expected to out strip renewable supplies by 130 percent in Israel, 120 percent in Jordan and 150 per cent in Palestine, according to the IISD.
“Desalination is a mental game-changer. For the first time in the history of mankind, water is not a limited resource.” Ram Aviram, former Israeli ambassador
Mental game-changer Experts in Israel, Jordan and Palestine agree that the current water crisis in the Jordan River Basin must be addressed in a regional context. However, different countries and stakeholders have different priorities. Does the solution lie in large-scale engineering projects, or in less invasive changes in regional policy and water allo cation? Securing water for the demands of a growing population is a clear priority, but what does that mean for the Jordan River itself?
water, you are dealing with whether or not you have money to desalinate.” For Israel, with its 273-km coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, desalination is indeed an ideal solution, but for Jordan, the world’s third most water-scarce coun try with a 24-km coastline along the Red Sea, the situation is more complicated. “The problem of the Jordan River cannot be solved until all five countries are at the same table,” said Fayez Batanieh, the sec retary general of Jordan’s Water Authority. He admits, however, that this is unlikely to happen until key aspects of the ArabIsraeli conflict have been resolved.
Former Israeli Ambassador Ram Aviram, who has worked extensively on cross-bor der water issues, says Israel and Jordan are worried that discussing the future of shared water resources in the Jordan River Basin would mean giving up on some of these water resources. “We need to move past this zero-sum game and explore the alternatives,” he said.
In the meantime, Jordan urgently needs to address its water deficit, which amounts to 500Mm3 per year. “Our first priority now is to bring water to the people,” said Bata nieh, who is markedly unsentimental about the Jordan River and its demise.
Aviram sees desalination as the ultimate solution. “It is a mental game-changer. For the first time in the history of man kind, water is not a limited resource. The very basic perception is changing: instead of dealing with whether or not you have
“The Lower Jordan River is no longer pota ble, nor is it a source of water for agricul ture because it has become too saline,” he said. “If it is not providing Jordan with any socio-economic benefits, then why should we make efforts to rehabilitate the river?”
Mega-projects Jordan is currently building a pipeline to transport water from the Disi aqui fer in the south of the country to the capital Amman. However, if the popula tion growth rate remains at its current level of 2.3 percent, the Disi aquifer – a non-renewable aquifer that will eventu ally run dry – will only support Jordan’s water demands for 40 years. In the long term, Batanieh believes that the ambitious regional Red-Dead Canal project is the only option for Jordan. “This will solve two problems at once: water supply and the shrinkage of the Dead Sea,” said Batanieh, who is also in charge of plans for the project at Jor dan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation. The proposed pipeline would pump an annual 2bn m3 of seawater over a distance of 207km from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. From here, and after desalination, a second pipeline would transport desalinated water 55km from the Dead Sea to Amman. The remaining 1.1bn m3 of brine water – the by-prod uct of desalination – would be released into the Dead Sea, matching the current rate of evaporation. The 400-meter drop to the Dead Sea would be used to generate hydropower, which would fuel the desalination plant on the shores of the Dead Sea. When operating at full capacity, this plant would generate 800Mm3 of desalinated water per year. Jordan would receive approximately 650-700Mm3 of this water, fulfilling national water demands for up to 30 years. The remaining 100150Mm3 would be pumped to Israel or the West Bank, further alleviating regional water stress.
“We cannot wait until there is peace to reach a final agreement over water.” The Jordan River Basin
Nader al-Khateeb, Palestinian Director, Friends of the Earth Middle East
Water knows no political borders The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) is the premier environmental education and research program in West Asia, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges. Affiliated with Ben-Gurion University, AIES houses academic programs, research and international cooperation initiatives on a range of environmental concerns and challenges. Students at AIES study a range of environmental issues from a transboundary and interdisciplinary perspective while learning peace-building and leadership skills. With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis and students from around the world, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies offers students a unique opportunity to study and live together for an extended period of time, building networks and developing understanding that will enable future cooperative work and activism in West Asia and beyond.
Boost efficiency first Although the project has supporters in Jordan, Israel and Palestine, it remains extremely controversial – not just because of its estimated €7.8bn price tag, but also because of the potential environmental con sequences to the Dead Sea. The results of a series of World Bank fea sibility studies that were published at the beginning of the year show that while the project is “technically possible”, it would entail risks, particularly for the Dead Sea and its surroundings. The studies concluded that rapidly adding amounts of more than 300Mm3 of water per year to the shrinking Dead Sea could increase the rate of sink hole formation. The World Bank also warned of the project’s broader environmental and social impacts and emphasized the need for further studies and consultations. “We knew from the start that this project would not be feasible from an economic or environmental point of view,” said Munqeth Mehyar, FoEME’s Jordanian director.
Mehyar believes there are many less inva sive and cheaper alternatives to address the shrinking of the Dead Sea and Jordan’s growing water scarcity. Such alternatives include investing in solar-powered desalina tion technology, restoring the natural flow of the Jordan River and improving agricultural and domestic water use practices. Mehyar’s colleague Sultan believes coun tries in the region share responsibility for the future of the Dead Sea. “It is not only the responsibility of Jordan, Israel and Pales tine,” he said. “Syria and Lebanon also play a part in the depletion of the Jordan River and they should contribute to rehabilitating the river and the sea.”
damage, decision-makers from the five Jordan River Basin countries must urgently develop a regional water plan that to secure their shared water resources and ecosys tems for future generations. Yosra Albakkar is a Jordanian graduate student who is currently establishing the Green Earth NGO in Jordan. Catherine Brown is an American undergraduate student at Middlebury College, pursuing a joint degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies. Yosra and Catherine worked on this article as part of an independent study project under the supervision of Clive Lipchin at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and Francesca de Châtel at Revolve.
But while the technical solutions to the mounting crisis in the Jordan River Basin are available, the political will to make regional water resources and the shared environ ment a policy priority is clearly missing. With water resources dwindling and lim ited time to reverse regional environmental
Read the full interview with FoEME : www.revolve-magazine.com
The Dead Sea.
Back to the Source An unprecedented study of the history and politics of water use in the Upper Jordan River has found that distribution of the transboundary flows to Israel, Lebanon and Syria is extremely skewed, with Israel having near-exclusive use of the flows. The Hydropolitical Baseline of the Upper Jordan River study, which was carried out by the University of East Anglia Water Security Research Centre in the UK and facilitated by the Friends of Ibrahim Abd el Al, deepens understanding of the root causes of the conflict over the Upper Jordan. Drawing on archives of the French and British authorities, Lebanese and Israeli river flow data, news media, interviews and unpublished official reports, the study reviews the use and distribution of the shared water resources in this sensitive border region. “The conflicts that have been fought within the basin of the river are the stuff both of legend and of current broadsheets,” the study reports. “Rural communities living on the banks of the Jordan River have seen their land cut up on six occasions over the last century, from a single political entity
into five separate states. Each change has been accompanied by violence, population transfers, and the construction of water infrastructure that has altered both use of and control over the flows.” The study traces the struggle for control and use of water flows in the Upper Jordan River sub-basins to British and French mandate periods, and for the first time compares flow data registered and discourses developing in Lebanon and Israel. In addition, the study situates the Lebanon-Israel water conflict within the broader political conflict, and examines the devastating impact of the 2006 Lebanon war on water resources and water infrastructure. The study thus fills an important gap with significance to the wider Jordan River Basin – including Syria, Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza – and establishes a baseline upon which future analysis of the Jordan River conflict may build.
Download the full study : www.uea.ac.uk/watersecurity/publications
Bitter Harvest Writer: Mark Zeitoun
The provision and denial of water in Palestine-Israel masks ulterior political motives that seek to replace one population with another. It will be another meager crop this year for the Palestinian subsistence farmer in the Jordan River Valley. Casting an eye over dusty fields in Fesa’el, he contemplates whether he should continue to eke out a living this way, or move to Nablus or to the Gulf and work as a day laborer like so many before him. He turns his back on the lush orchards of the adjacent Israeli agri-business settlement of Tirzah, which has taken land from villages like his own. Climate-proof thanks to a reliable and cheap supply of water, such settlements continue to expand as evermore people are lured to them. Along the west bank of the Jordan River, there is considerable evidence that the allocation of water is a mechanism for ulterior political goals. A December 2011 French Parliamentary report by MP Jean Glavany suggests “water apartheid” poli cies are designed to keep Palestinian and Israeli communities in the West Bank sepa rate, while journalist Ben Ehrenreich notes in the same month’s Harper’s that water is used for ethnic cleansing. However, the manner in which it is provided or denied suggests an even greater perversion of the life-providing essence of water: to replace one population with another.
Water as a military tool The diplomatic community focused on envi ronmental conflicts would do well to engage with the implications this use of water has for theory, for conflict management practice, and for action. Water expert and president of the Pacific Institute Peter Gleick has identified how groups use water as a military tool for political ends – a practice which has been honed to near-perfection in the protracted conflict for the West Bank. Here, the broader Palestinian-Israeli conflict determines the use of water, meaning envi ronmental peacemaking efforts interested in more than shallow water cooperation must consider control of the resource: both the mechanisms that enable control, and the politics and ideology that drive it. That control in rural areas throughout Israel and Palestine has been in the hands of suc cessive Israeli governments, and achieved through a very effective use of combined hard and soft power. Converting control of water into a demographic shift is evidently simple: first, an area is rid of its inhabitants by denying basic water services, sometimes by claiming there is not enough water. The area is then populated with the preferred inhabitants, by providing the water services that were previously denied.
The United Nations’ (UN) formal recognition of the Human Right to Water in 2010 coincided with a stepped-up violation of that right, just west of Bethlehem. To maintain an income there, farmers who have to battle an array of army jeeps, zoning regulations and the wall have been trickling away for decades. In the Yatta governorate south of Hebron, Israeli army destruction of the most basic of water infrastructure, such as family rainwater reservoirs, has increased dramatically since about the same time. Data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show that between January and November 2011, 45 cisterns and rainwater structures were destroyed in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, with demolition orders issued for many more. It may be difficult to believe – but visible to anyone who visits – that these people are prevented even from collecting the rain. Israeli citizens are not spared the pain, par ticularly the inhabitants of ‘unrecognized vil lages’ in the Negev Desert who have largely been denied basic water services since Israel’s establishment in 1948. The recent moves to push over 30,000 Bedouin people into ‘government-recognized settlements’ will be only the latest in a long chain of trans gressions against them. And it shows how water can cleanse: if the communities had been provided with a regular and safe supply
Water collection tanker in al-Farasiya, a village destroyed by the Israeli army in 2010. Source : EWASH oPt
of water in the 1950s, it would have been much more difficult – if not impossible – to uproot them today. Just as it will be difficult to uproot the Israeli settlers back in the West Bank, who have grown accustomed to a cheap and reliable water supply. Water attracts rather than repels here, and while the success of the Israeli settler project derives from political Zionism, credit is also due to the efforts of the Israeli water engineers. The awkward pipes first laid by colonizing settlers serve as umbilical cords to sustain the hilltop outposts, and are soon replaced with worldclass design buried networks.
Ideology trumps rationale The terms of the 1995 Oslo II Agreement have ensured that water distribution between Palestinians and Israelis is so asymmetric that water supply for settlements outstrips demand. So, as more land is grabbed, the Minister of Infrastructure calls for more settle ment infrastructure, and the water will follow. The budget for sewage treatment is not so easy to clear, however: the hilltops stolen by the Yitzhar settlement south of Nablus bloom as the raw settler sewage flows into the with ered Palestinian fields in the valleys below. Meanwhile, the Palestinian political class
who are focused more on the UN in New York than on their own backyard, ignore the plight of their farmers. The planned construction of an industrial zone on fertile agricultural land in the Marj Ibn Amer region north of Nablus is an example of this. Unrepresented by their government, and unable to eke a living off the land, Palestinian parents scramble to send their children to Europe or the U.S., while Israeli governments subsidize the settlement of Zionist North American and European parents. Judging by the rate of cleansing over the last 16 years, there is about a generation to go.
exclusive use. Ultimately this is a shortsighted route to water security. The groundwater con tamination caused by constricted develop ment of Palestinian villages and unchecked construction of Israeli settlements will affect everyone drawing from the aquifers – rich or poor, Jewish or Muslim, Palestinian or Israeli, Zionist or anti-Zionist – unless, of course, the population transfer is completed before the aquifer collapses entirely.
The use of water to transfer populations in this way may seem surprising, given the wellknown Israeli advances in water technology. The country’s wastewater reuse and desalina tion projects are of such magnitude that they can significantly reduce tensions over fresh water sources. But those hoping for science to lead us to peace – the way we used to pray for rain – are missing the point entirely. Ideol ogy overwhelms rationale, and the suffering of those forced off their land is not due to a lack of water resources – it is what is in the minds of those who allocate the water that counts.
From an analytical perspective, the perver sion of water’s essence is more elegantly explained through political ecology theory than the (more popular) approach of environ mental determinism. The former can inform the efforts of those involved in managing the water conflict, who must question if their quest for stability actually hampers the positive change that is needed to reverse the ethnic cleansing. Given the strength of the forces driving the mal-distribution of water, analysis and policy must also give wind to the sails of all those who fight chauvinism in Palestine and Israel – and clear the way for social equality, political representation and fair water-sharing. Future harvests may not be so bitter, for our efforts.
A fair distribution of resources in rough accor dance with international norms may be less on those minds than fundamentally discrimi natory ideas about securing water supplies for
Mark Zeitoun is the author of Power and Water in the Middle East (IB Tauris). He has worked as a water engineer and strategic negotiations advisor for several years in the West Bank and Gaza.
klimatske promjene κλιματική αλλαγή ilkim değişikliği changement climatique cambio climático
According to the 4th report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007), the Mediterranean region will be among the worst-affected regions in the world by climate change.
Over the 20th century, the Iberian Peninsula and southern France registered a 2°C rise in temperature.
In Southern Europe, rainfall levels have decreased by up to 20%.
Over the 21st century, the Mediterranean could experience a 3-5°C rise in temperature, while rainfall levels could decrease of between 4% and 35%.
Increased evaporation and less rain will have a direct effect on water availability.
The frequency and violence of extreme climatic events such as heat waves, droughts or floods could also increase as a result of climate change.
Mediterranean sea levels are predicted to rise up to 0.61 meter by the end of the century, threatening the large deltas of the Nile, the Po and Rhône rivers and cities such as Alexandria and Venice.
The deserts of North Africa, coastal zones and areas with high population growth on the southern and eastern shores of the sea are also highly vulnerable to climate change.
Climate change in the Mediterranean will also impact: • agriculture and fishery (reduced yields) • tourism (heat waves, water scarcity) • coastal zones and infrastructure (high exposure to waves, coastal storms and depletion of underground freshwater resources, seawater penetration in aquifers) • public health (heat waves)
Source: EMWIS, IMEDEA, UNEP/MAP-Plan Bleu
High waves and tides in winter threaten low-lying beaches in Ras El-Bar where water can penetrate dozens of meters inland.
Facing the Tide Writer: Mohammed Yahia Photographer: IDRC, Mohammed Yahia
Researchers and local community leaders are examining how to protect Egypt’s Nile Delta coast from rising sea levels. Bassem Farhat, a young farmer in the northern town of Gamasa, stands eyeing his once-fertile land, now flooded with saline groundwater. “It is impossible to grow anything here. I have to drain and rinse the land before I have any hope of growing crops again. Then I have to protect my land from this happening again,” he says bitterly. A neighbor has switched to growing rice and introduced freshwater fish for extra income. But as salt levels in the groundwater have increased, his rice crops have begun to wilt. A fish floats dead in the briny field.
People settled Egypt’s Nile Delta over 5,000 years ago for its fertile land and abundant fish supply. Today, it serves as the bread basket for Egypt’s population of 82 million. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected an average global sea-level increase of 18cm to 59cm by the end of this century. Several recent assess ments suggest this figure could be much higher. In low-lying areas such as the Nile Delta coast, sea-level rise and other climate change effects threaten food security and livelihoods. These fragile coastal regions are already struggling with the effects of ero sion, pollution and ecosystem degradation.
Pinpointing the threats Researchers from the Coastal Research Institute (CoRI) of Egypt’s National Water Research Center, Alexandria Univer sity’s Institute of Graduate Studies and Research, and the Center for Development Services are exploring options for adapt ing to the expected impacts of sea-level rise. In addition to shedding light on the likely physical effects, they are looking at how local people are vulnerable, socially and economically, and what the trade-offs will be as they choose options to adapt.
Their work was supported by the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa research and capacity development program, which was launched in 2006 by Canada’s Inter national Development Research Centre and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. The study area includes the towns of Gamasa, Ras el-Bar and New Damietta, which are at risk due to their low elevation. The researchers measured land height along a 30-km stretch of coastline, extend ing 15km inland. They collected data on wave patterns, their intensity and direction, and are conducting socioeconomic studies of people living in the area. “We wanted to better understand the realities of farm ers, fishermen, investors and the tourism industry,” said Mahmoud el-Banna, leader of research activities in Ras el-Bar. Researchers have identified three main threats — flooding of the coastal regions, seawater intrusion into freshwater aquifers and rising groundwater — and mapped the predicted damage these threats could cause. Representatives of affected communities were then brought on board through work shops on climate change and sea-level rise. “We explained what we as scientists know, and we heard their feedback,” said Abu Bakr el-Sedik Abu Zeed, deputy direc tor of CoRI. “We realized that some areas are already seeing many of the problems we predicted through our research.”
The likely impacts The town of Ezbet el-Borg, located where the Damietta branch of the Nile River flows into the Mediterranean Sea, is critical for food security in Egypt. It accounts for 60 percent of the country’s fish catch. Resi dents started to notice a rise in sea levels 20 years ago. “We did not know the reason until scientists started talking to us,” said Hossam Khalil, head of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society of Ezbet el-Borg. “In recent years, we began raising new homes built in our city to protect them from the sea. It had started flooding some of the ground-floor rooms in older buildings.” Fishermen have also noticed changes in the pattern of storms, which used to come in spe
cific, known periods. As the storms receded, they left an abundance of fish in their wake. Now, however, the timing and intensity of storms has become unpredictable. “The direction of waves is changing, which has decreased the amount of fish in our regular fishing spots,” said Khalil. “Some of the fish, such as sea bream, are slowly disappearing, while we are seeing more foreign fish species from the Red Sea as the Mediterranean waters warm up.” However, the potential impacts on agriculture may be the greatest threat posed by sealevel rise in the region. Wagdy el-Sewedy, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture in the city of Damietta, explained that rising groundwater has affected soil composition and overloaded drainage systems in several places in Damietta Governorate. “We can’t plant vegetables here anymore and we have lost most of our date palms. We can only grow rice now because of the large amount of water in the ground. But even that is becoming hard because the salt is destroying yields,” he added. Rising temperatures have also created favorable
conditions for the outbreak of diseases that harm the crops. Along the coast, vast swaths of agricultural land have become completely barren, the soil turning white and muddy from salt seepage. In northern parts of the Delta, salt levels in groundwater currently exceed 4,000 mg/l, the upper threshold for farm land and more than double the usual salt levels in the area. “If you step onto this land, you will sink knee deep into the salty remains,” said elBanna. “It will take lots and lots of water to rinse and make it arable again, but even that won’t solve the problem.”
“We cannot wait until it all comes crashing down on us. We are all affected by climate change and need to work together to find solutions that will save our region and our country.” Mohammed el-Zeeny, investor
beautiful beaches. “We have vast invest ments that are endangered by seawater flooding,” said Abu Zeed. “But it could also contaminate freshwater aquifers that thou sands depend on.”
Looking at protection measures The researchers have drawn up vulnerabil ity maps for the region, using the collected data to help policymakers better understand the challenges they face. Results suggest that previous projections of flooding in the Delta were exaggerated because they ignored the natural topography of the region and the protection it offered. “In the worstcase scenario,” said el-Banna, “we expect 3 percent of the Nile Delta to be inundated by 2100. In the best-case scenario, it will be only 1 percent.” Still, some areas will be hard hit: the agricultural town of Gamasa, for example, may lose over 11 percent of its total area by the end of the century.
While most of the Delta is on low land, a narrow elevated strip along the coast acts as a natural barrier, according to CoRI's Abu Zeed. “This offers us protection. But if that line were eroded, we would have a serious problem on our hands.” While the elevated shoreline offers natural protection against flooding, it does not prevent saline water seeping up from underground. This threatens freshwater supplies in an area already experiencing water shortages. The socioeconomic impacts would be felt by residents and non-residents. Much of the coast is being developed into luxury resorts to attract tourists to the area’s
Data gathering has focused on erosion from waves and flooding, the degree and extent of salt-water incursion, rising groundwater levels and whether the cur rent drainage system can handle the rising water. The challenge now, according to Abu Zeed, is coming up with options to address these problems and protect the area. The team has so far done an initial cost-benefit analysis of a range of possible measures. These include "hard" coastal defenses, such as groynes and breakwaters, and softer measures such as creating artificial dunes, improving beach drainage, or even retreating from coastal areas likely to be flooded. Each of these choices entails dif ficult trade-offs.
Gamasa's agricultural drainage system cannot cope with the intrusion of seawater in the groundwater, which has increased soil salinity and limited farmers’ ability to plant crops.
Finding solutions with community leaders One of the chief difficulties the research team faces is communicating the imminent danger to policy-makers, many of whom think the chance of flooding is remote. But the team has enjoyed some success in involving community leaders in various sectors in the problem-solving process. “After all the discussions and presenta tions we made, we started to notice a shift in the perception of people living here,” said researcher Medhat Abd el-Mohsen of CoRI. “They started cooperating with us and facilitating our work.”
ous problem – even if we are not noticing it too badly now – and that the experts can help us deal with it,” she said.
A 16-member climate change committee was established, to engage community representatives ranging from investors and teachers to farmers and fishermen. Subgroups in turn communicate the problem to their local communities. Aisha el-Sayed, manager of the local education directorate, is one such committee member: “We need to explain to our people that there is a seri
“We need a concerted effort to address this serious problem,” said Mohammed el-Zeeny, a local investor in New Damietta. “We cannot wait until it all comes crashing down on us. We are all affected by climate change – from the smallest farmer and fish erman to our scientists – and need to work together to find solutions that will save our region and our country.”
El-Banna explained that the local communi ties will be particularly important during the project’s next phase. “We have gathered information on protection methods avail able around the world. Now, we will work with our local partners to find out which of these are applicable, taking into account the social, cultural and economic realities so that the solutions we agree on are relevant.”
Mohammed Yahia is the editor of Nature Middle East. This article was written for the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa research and capacity development program, which was launched in 2006 as a joint initiative of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID). The program, which comes to an end in March 2012, has helped build African expertise on adaptation to meet the needs of African communities, decisionmakers and institutions.
“We have vast investments that are endangered by seawater flooding. But it could also contaminate freshwater aquifers that thousands depend on.” Abu Bakr el-Sedik Abu Zeed, Deputy Director, Coastal Research Institute
Hard adaptation measures such as this sea wall are expensive to build and require maintenance due to wave damage.
Inundations Submerge the
Northern Mediterranean then there has been a concerted effort to improve flood management.” Honoré points out that while the floods may be partly caused by more extreme weather events, the high rate of urbanization and the increase of hard surfaces are worsen ing the impact of torrential rains as the rainwater is less easily absorbed into the environment. “The distinguishing feature of these heavy rains is that they happen over a very short time period and are often accompanied by tropical thunderstorms.”
A police vehicle patrols a flooded street in Vicenza, Italy, after disastrous floods on November 1, 2010. Source: Jim McGee/U.S. Army
Flash floods in Northern Mediterranean countries are causing unprecedented damage and deaths. The Mediterranean has been identified as a climate change hotspot: the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change predicts “more extreme climatic events” with lower rainfall, higher temperatures, and more extreme and frequent droughts. Meteorological records from the past decades already confirm these trends in part. However, in Northern Mediterranean countries this extreme weather is also resulting in more violent rainstorms and frequent flash floods. Over the past 10 years, violent rainstorms and flash floods have wreaked havoc in France, Italy and Spain, causing severe material damages and in some cases deaths. In June 2010, 19 people were killed in flash floods in France’s Var
region, while violent storms that swept across Italy in October 2011 also caused flash flooding and killed nine people. In November 2011, three people were killed when heavy rain and floods hit southern France in a storm that was trig gered by the warming of water masses off the Spanish coast which generated cyclonic activity, according to Philippe Honoré, the director of Société des Eaux de Marseille, the fourth-largest group in France’s water sector. “For several years now we have been experiencing these phenomena of torren tial rainstorms,” said Honoré. “In the early 2000s there was a series of heavy floods in the region of Nîmes and Marseille. Since
Different measures have been taken to limit the damage of violent flash floods in France’s Mediterranean region. Honoré said that predicting the storms is only part of this, and that warning populations in areas at risk of flooding is of key impor tance. “This can significantly reduce dam ages,” he said. “All towns have put in place mandatory district protection plans, which outline the measures needed to ensure the safety of the population. A key part of this is the alerting of concerned populations through radio broadcasts, phone calls, text mes sages and even with cars with loudspeak ers driving through towns and villages.” Honoré added that while it was too early to ascertain whether the violent weather phe nomena occurring in France’s Mediterra nean region are related to climate change, the implementation of flood management plans was of key importance in limiting damages. “Urbanization and the increase of hard surfaces also plays a role, but at the same time, over the last 10 years we have definitely experienced phenomena we had never seen before.”
Leaving the Land
Photographerâ€‰: Adel Samara
Between 2006 and 2009 photographer Adel Samara documented the humanitarian impact of a devastating drought in north-eastern Syria. Hundreds of thousands migrated to the south of the country following dramatic crop failures and the decimation of the livestock herd. 34
More than 1.3 million people were affected by the drought, with subsistence farmers losing up to 90 percent of their income. As wells and rivers ran dry, more than 300,000 people abandoned their land and migrated to the south in search of work.
The migrants settled in makeshift tent camps in the south of the country, working as day laborers on farms and building sites for â‚Ź0.40/hour. The camps, which had no water, sanitation or electricity, varied in size from one or two tents to up to 80 tents.
Migrants received no support from the Syrian government or international aid agencies. As a result of the migration, school enrolment rates in the north-east dropped by 80 percent in 2009-2010. Most migrant children work to help support their family and do not go to school.
agriculture γεωργία agricultura tarım poljeprivreda
Agriculture uses on average 64% of water resources in the Mediterranean region, with broad variations between the northern and southern countries. Morocco and Syria use respectively 88% and 90% of their water resources in agriculture. The total irrigated area in the Mediterranean countries has doubled in 40 years to exceed 26m hectares in 2005, or 20% of cultivated land. Surface irrigation is still widely in use in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, in contrast to France, Israel and Libya, where precedence is given to more efficient technologies such as sprinkler or drip irrigation. Of the estimated 166 million people living in rural areas in the Mediterranean in 2010, 114 million lived on the southern shores. There are about 17m farms in the Mediterranean region. 44% of the Mediterranean farming population lives in Egypt and Turkey. Agriculture as percentage of GDP (2005-2007) 2% France | 3% Jordan | 14.3% Egypt | 18.7% Syria KEY CROPS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: OLIVES: Olive cultivation takes up 8m hectares of land around the Mediterranean. Together, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Syria are the region’s biggest olive oil producers, comprising 88.5% of global production. Spain makes up almost half of the regional production with 1.15m tons of olives a year. CEREALS: The Mediterranean produced almost 180m tons of cereals in 2007. France, Turkey, Italy and Spain account for over 65% of Mediterranean cereal production since 2000. With over 10% of regional production, Egypt is the leading producer on the southern shore, far ahead of Morocco, which produces less than 3%. WINE & GRAPES: Viticulture covers 4.2m hectares in the Mediterranean, the equivalent of 53% of the global area. Spain, France and Italy are the largest producers, consumers and exporters of wine in the region. Including production in the Balkan, the Mediterranean countries produce 145m hectoliters of wine a year, more than half of world production. FRUIT & VEGETABLES: The Mediterranean region produces a wide range of fruit and vegetables including tomatoes, citrus fruits, figs, dates, cherries, hazelnuts, strawberries, pistachios and apricots.
Source: UNEP/MAP-Plan Bleu, World Resources Institute, Atlas Mediterra 2010
Cretan Village Reconnects with its Water Writer & photographer: Sheila Saia
Villagers and farmers in north-eastern Crete are discovering new ways of saving water by linking traditional and modern water conservation methods and restoring ancient water cisterns that have served communities since the Bronze Age. Damaged cistern in Crete, Greece.
In the village of Karydi on the Greek island of Crete, an elderly farmer stops to chat with my friend Giannis and me as we inspect the old stone cisterns that capture rainwater. The farmer tells us how important these man-made, stone-lined pits once were to the socioeconomic health of her local com munity. She is worried about the municipal water supply, which was first installed about 50 years ago. The system has led many of her fellow villagers to lose touch with their land and limited water resources. “Everyone used to rely on the cisterns for their crops, but these days young people aren’t inter ested in farming,” she says. “They move to the cities in search of jobs and leave people like me to care for the fields and cisterns.” Despite recent pressure from the European Union (EU) to implement natural resource conservation policies, water over-abstrac tion continues to be an issue throughout Greece. According to figures published by the Organization for Economic Coopera tion and Development in 2005, freshwater abstractions in Greece increased 73 percent between 1980 and 2002. While Greece is among the region’s “water-rich” countries with an average per capita water availability of 6,765m3 per year – compared to values
Cisterns used to irrigate olive orchards in Crete, Greece.
of less than 1,500m3 in most Eastern and Southern Mediterranean countries – water scarcity is becoming more common on a local scale, especially in the Aegean Islands. Yet, in general, few Greeks are aware of the pressure on their local water resources. This disconnect between policy and real ity can be ascribed to the interaction of many complex factors. Officials must consider projected yearly rainfall reduc tions of 5-20 percent, while balancing population growth with the expansion of tourism and agricultural development. As different industries grow, large-scale groundwater extraction from deep-drilled wells is replacing small-scale traditional water supplies, like cisterns and shallow wells. This makes it more difficult for com munity leaders and their constituents to understand and overcome the impacts of their decisions on the aquifer, a natural resource they cannot see but which is directly connected to the springs they use. For example, increased irrigation demands for agriculture in the Messera Valley in southern central Crete have lowered the groundwater table by nearly 45 meters in the past 10 years. In addition to reducing
the water availability, over-pumping the aquifer draws seawater into wells near the coast. As a result, local governments spend more to meet current water quantity and quality demands. Since the Bronze Age, Cretan communities have relied on man-made rainwater cisterns and spring-fed wells to supply water for irrigation and domestic needs. As ground water extraction technologies improved and Greek communities aspired to the same living standards as their western neighbors, groundwater wells became more and more common. Deep-drilled wells were first intro duced in the 1960s and 1970s as shallow well pumps no longer met agricultural and domestic water demand.
Adjusting to growing demand Most of the inhabitants of Karydi are still farmers, though a growing number are find ing jobs in nearby urban areas such as the coastal city of Agios Nikolaos. The villagers rely on publicly supplied groundwater from deep-drilled wells to meet their domestic
and agricultural water needs. Unlike many Greek islands, where local communities depend fully on imported water, Karydi's local aquifer capacity is expected to meet projected domestic water needs and cur rent agricultural demand for the next 10 to 20 years. However, this projection does not account for potential reductions in rainfall due to climate change or shifts in tourism and agriculture. Like elsewhere around the Mediterranean, tourism is a major income generator in Greece, but also a large con sumer of water. Around 15 million tour ists visit the country of 11 million every year – the majority during the dry summer months – placing added pressure on water resources. Agriculture is still by far the larg est water consumer in Greece, using 80-85 percent of the country’s water resources.
Irrigation has increased exponentially over the past 50 years, covering 41 percent of cultivated land today. Most farmers in the Municipality of Lasithi – the region of north-eastern Crete of which Karydi forms a part – maintain traditional nonirrigated olive orchards, but in other regions water-intensive crops such as citrus are being introduced. Citrus crops fetch higher prices, but require nearly twice as much water as non-irrigated olives. Karydi farmers who irrigate their crops first look to cisterns to supplement their municipal water demand. It is more economical for them to water veg etables and livestock with water from a local cistern than to pay for municipally supplied water. However, many cisterns in the sur rounding countryside have been abandoned because they are expensive to repair.
Reintroducing the old
Since the Bronze Age, Cretan communities have relied on man-made rainwater cisterns and springfed wells to supply water for irrigation and domestic needs.
As an EU member, Greece has commit ted to meeting the guidelines proposed in the European Union Water Framework Directive by 2015. Specifically, the direc tive outlines fair water-pricing policies that promote sustainable water use. In other words, water utility prices should reflect the costs of water abstraction, distribution and treatment. While working under these guidelines, and realizing the necessity to address rising demand and the growing threat of climate change, community lead ers are trying a new – or should we say old – approach to water conservation. Nikos Kastrinakis, the deputy governor of the Municipality of Lasithi, is collaborating with a team of students and professors from Cor nell University to establish a water resources management plan that links traditional and modern water conservation methods and identifies associated areas of improvement. Several projects have been proposed, includ ing plans to restore urban water cisterns and use them to water municipal parks. These self-sustaining, restored cisterns will help the local community reconnect to their water resources. Additional benefits of this resto ration project include historical and cultural preservation, job training, community edu cation and backup water supplies.
Besides the restoration of cisterns, local leaders are considering three modern water resource conservation methods including interdisciplinary management, public partici pation and the establishment of quantitative and qualitative goals. By understanding the quantity and quality of their water resources as well as the community’s perceptions and values, local leaders can better encourage citizens to become active caretakers of their local environment. The overall challenge of their efforts is to balance groundwater recharge with groundwater extraction. Only then will they have a viable solution that will meet the current and future needs of humans and surrounding ecosystems. Sheila Saia is a PhD student in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. She serves as the hydrologist on the Crete research team. Special thanks to Deputy Governor Nikos Kastrinakis and his staff, Chrisanthi Farsari, Apostolos Sarris, Stefanos Karahalios, Giannis Garakis, Adonis Gialelakis, Manolis Gialelaki, Tammo Steenhuis, Gail Holst-Warhaft, Margaret Kurth and Michael Bowes. This project would not have been possible without their knowledge and support. Funding for this project was provided by the City of Neapolis, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and Cornell University.
of Irrigation Modernization Writer: Theib Oweis
The introduction of modern irrigation systems may reduce water use, but it does not necessarily lead to higher agricultural productivity. Many countries are keen to move away from traditional surface irrigation systems to more modern and efficient systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation. Surface irri gation systems are less efficient in terms of water application because more water is lost through runoff and deep percolation. However, the losses at field level can be partially or fully recovered at the scheme or basin levels by reusing drainage and runoff or extracting water that has percolated into groundwater aquifers. The introduction of modern irrigation systems saves water at the field and farm levels, but this saved water does not necessarily become available for use elsewhere – allowing for the expansion of irrigated area or for use by other farmers or sectors – because it is already allo cated within the scheme or the system. In Egypt, for instance, water lost during irri gation is recuperated and reused several times through the drainage system before becoming too saline for agricultural use. Modern irrigation systems can only be effi cient if managed properly. In many areas,
poor management means that modern systems have the same low efficiency as surface systems. Depending on the physi cal and socioeconomic conditions, surface systems may be more suitable, especially as farmers are familiar with them.
Globally, surface irrigation systems are by far the most common method of irrigation. Assuming that this will change in the near future is unrealistic. Modern systems increase productivity not because they reduce water loss, but rather because they allow for better control, higher irrigation uniformity and frequency, and better fertilization among others. The benefits, however, come at a cost: capital, energy and maintenance. Successful con version requires developed industry, skilled engineers, technicians and farmers, and effective maintenance. Modern systems are
most successful in areas where water is scarce and expensive, so that farmers can recover the system costs by reducing irriga tion losses and increasing productivity. When water is abundant and cheap, farm ers have little incentive to convert to mod ern systems. In fact, improving surface irri gation systems through land leveling and better control may be more appropriate for most farmers in developing countries. Globally, surface irrigation systems are by far the most common method of irrigation. Assuming that this will change in the near future is unrealistic. A wise strategy is to invest more in improving surface irrigation and to encourage modern systems only when conditions are favorable.
Surface irrigation, Jarablous, Syria. Source: Adel Samara
No more business as usual Many countries are investing consider ably in converting to modern irrigation systems. But the increased efficiency obtained reflects the performance of the system, not the performance of the water: high irrigation efficiency does not rule out low agricultural productivity. Investment should therefore focus on increasing water productivity as well, particularly in waterscarce regions where the amount of water available for agriculture is declining. Water productivity (WP) is the return or the benefits derived from each cubic meter of water consumed. This return may be biophysical (in the form of foodstuffs), socioeconomic (through the employment and income it generates), environmental (by providing environmental benefits such as carbon sequestration and ecosystem services) or nutritional (through the protein and calories it provides). Most agricultural water is consumed by evapotranspiration and is therefore “unrecoverable”. However, recycled water is not considered to be con
sumed, depleted or lost by joining salt sinks such as the sea, salt lakes or saline aquifers. Drivers to improve WP vary with scale. At the field scale, one must aim to maximize the biophysical WP of a specific crop or product. At the farm level, the goal is to maximize the economic return of all the crops and products that are generated. At the country level, the drivers for improved WP are food security and exports. At the basin level, competition between sectors, equity issues and conflicts may drive WP issues. Overall, the WP concept offers a standardized way of comparing crops and production areas, and of determining what to grow and where to grow it. Cropping patterns should be determined by taking into account the dif ferent drivers, scales and types of WP that are relevant to the population. Research has shown that in the developing countries of the Eastern and Southern Medi terranean, agricultural WP can be at least doubled, which is equivalent to doubling the water availability. This can be achieved
through the introduction of modern technolo gies, the adoption of more efficient water management practices such as supple mental irrigation and water harvesting, and the improvement of cropping patterns and agribusiness practices. All such measures should, however, be supported by sound socioeconomic policies. Rain-fed agriculture, which still has very low yields due to the his torical prioritization of irrigated agriculture, has the highest potential for increased WP and food production. Investment in this field may therefore be the most viable. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option for agricultural water management in waterscarce areas. Unless strategic changes are made, the Mediterranean region, especially the south, will face increasing water and food insecurity. New thinking on agricultural water management and cropping patterns should drive new strategies and approaches.
Theib Oweis is the director of the Integrated Water & Land Management Program at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo, Syria.
“The Catalan singer Joan Manuel Serrat talks about the ‘deep and dark soul’ that makes the Mediterranean more a common frame of mind than an actual physical place. From Cadaques to Tangier to the Cyclades Islands, the Mediterranean’s warm embrace makes one feel at ease, part of something much larger that makes sense. The Mediterranean, indeed, makes me feel like a privileged soul. Please excuse the sentimentalism. As Serrat said, ‘What can I do? I was born in the Mediterranean...’” Juan Garrigues, Spain
“The Mediterranean means summer holidays. It represents the easy life, relaxing times with lots of sun and good food.” Polona Šenk, Slovenia
“The sea is our lifeline. Our history and traditions are ingrained in sea worship; our culture and livelihoods have been formed through our ancestral understanding of our sea. We never mentally let go when we leave our blue waters, for doing so would mean giving up a part of ourselves.” Tomislav Ivančič, Croatia
“The Mediterranean is our most severe yet nurturing ancestor, treating us to merciless sun and crystal waters, making us a tribe of thirsty and hungry animals submerged in a cultural space, restlessly craving and dreaming of the unknown that lies beyond the horizon.”
“The Mediterranean is a place where Europe meets the Semitic world. It represents the art of living and enjoyment, a pure pleasure flavored with sun and sea. It is a place for everyone who wants to enjoy life and die happy.” Lidija Jularic, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Guiseppina Curreli, Sardinia, Italy
"I live in Ouezzane at the foot of the Rif Mountains and I consider myself a child of the land. I have an instinctive fear of the Mediterranean and of the sea in general. When I swim in it, I never go so deep that I can’t stand. The sea for me is overwhelming, mysterious and a little frightening.” Omar al-Hyani, Morocco
“Growing up at the heart of the Mediterranean, I always had a feeling of being at the center of it all. Medi-terra: the middle of the land or, in Malta’s case, also: the middle of the sea. How difficult to sort through the myriad thoughts that one allencompassing word invokes: ancient, intemporal, beautiful, mesmerizing, dramatic, rugged, blue, yellow, warm, proud, meeting point, melting pot, sun-ripened, salty. Ultimately, and more simply put, an integral part of who I am.” Ella Strickland, Malta
“In my hometown, Oran, the Mediterranean is very dirty. People litter the beaches and don’t think of others. To me, the Mediterranean evokes the image of Sidi Frej – the beach where the French landed in the 19th century to colonize Algeria. I also think of the hogra – the illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean in small boats – they have no idea what they are getting themselves into.” Mohamed Chenteur, Algeria
What does the Mediterranean Sea mean to you?
“What can I say about the Mediterranean, if not that it stands for myths, dreams, freedom and exchange! The Mediterranean is the center, the present and the future of the world, the sea of the Arab springs, the sea of passions, of love – and also of mistrust between the two shores.” Zoubeïr Mouhli, Tunisia
“I learned to love the Mediterranean without being proud. The diversity of the landscape and the people, the gentle change of seasons, the wheat fields, vineyards and olive trees all shape my childhood memories. But I don’t believe that the Mediterranean has a unique quality that makes it the epicenter of merging cultures and religious developments.” Julian Memetaj, Albania/Greece
"The Mediterranean is like a person: it has its secrets and its temper, but it is a companion through thick and thin. The sea is there when I go running in the morning and am full of energy; when I am eating with friends at the Old Port; when I am walking alone in the evening, dreaming, thinking, crying, laughing, hoping…”
“As the granddaughter of a fisherman, I grew up seeing the sea as my grandfather’s boss. After a long day on his fishing boat, my grandfather would say, ‘The sea was very generous today, thank God’. I used to imagine the sea as a big old man dressed in blue, with a long white beard, smiling at my grandfather. Today, I go to the sea when I am tired of the noise of my hometown Lattakia. I go to the sea and I speak to him, imagining the old man dressed in blue.” Suhaila al-Ali, Syria
Elif Kayi, France/Turkey “The Mediterranean Sea is encrypted in our genes. It unites us and divides us, isolates us and connects us, gives us life and takes lives. It smells familiar, feels familiar, and, somehow, makes us all look familiar. It is our history.”
“As a child, I was forbidden from even approaching the sea, because of snipers: I grew up in Beirut during the civil war. To this day, I can’t really swim. And we don’t even have good fish, because the water is so polluted. So, although I live in a maritime city, I don’t have a particular relationship with the sea.”
Lenia Kontogouri, Greece
Ayman Baalbaki, Lebanon
“The Mediterranean is the most peaceful place in the world! The weather is incredible, the women are very beautiful, and the food is delicious! When I think of the Mediterranean, I think of home, my family and a place I never want to leave.” Constantinos Tsiolis, Cyprus
“Libya is an oil-rich country, but the oil will not last forever. The Mediterranean Sea, on the other hand, will be there forever. It is a link between Libya and Europe, but also between Europe and the rest of Africa through Libya. Without the Mediterranean Sea, Libya has no past and no future.” Osama Alfitory, Libya
"The Mediterranean means warmhearted, emotional people who can love and hate simultaneously. It is a mix of spices, music, biblical times, shouting, not waiting in line, spitting, eating sunflower seeds, olives, using olive oil in everything and feeling alive. It is a mix of blue and red.”
“The only outlet.”
Asher Yiftachel, Israel
Zarha Ali, Gaza Strip, Palestine
"My city, Alexandria, is called the ‘Bride of the Mediterranean’. For us, the Mediterranean Sea is a source of wealth through fishing, shipping and tourism. It saddens me though that people in Alexandria can’t enjoy the sea because of the pollution from sewage, oil spills and waste.” Amira Dawoud, Egypt
“The Mediterranean Sea means nothing to me. It has been abandoned by Palestinians and we have been forced to neglect it.” Adham Nu’man, Ramallah, Palestine
WATER AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN 200 Km
SEA OF AZOV
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
AEGEAN SEA Izmir
IONIAN SEA Murcia
SEA OF CRETE
CITIES & MEGACITIES
S A H A R A
D E S E R T
National SEA Water Carrier (Israel)
GREAT MANMADE RIVER (LIBYA) Pipline completed
OLIVE OIL PRODUCTION & TRADE
SOURCES : Global Water Intelligence - International Desalination Association - UNEP/MAP - Plan Bleu - MedPan - Atlas Mediterra (2010)
See p. 23
CEREAL / WHEAT OUTPUT & CONSUMPTION
EXTERNAL RESOURCES INTERNAL RESOURCES
GAZA DESALINATION PROJECT
PER PERSON IN CUBIC METERS (2003)
AREAS VULNERABLE TO SEA-LEVEL RISE
1st UfM-ENDORSED WATER PROJECT
AVERAGE ANNUAL WATER AVAILABILITY
SOUTH-EASTERN ANATOLIA PROJECT (GAP) (TURKEY)
ARABIAN/ PERSIAN GULF
Pipline planned Reservoir
N E F U D
D E S E R T
Distribution of installed desalination capacity in the Mediterranean
7 000 3 000 1 000 500
WATER AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN 200 Km
SEA OF AZOV
BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
AEGEAN SEA Izmir
IONIAN SEA Murcia
SEA OF CRETE
CITIES & MEGACITIES
S A H A R A
D E S E R T
National SEA Water Carrier (Israel)
GREAT MANMADE RIVER (LIBYA) Pipline completed
OLIVE OIL PRODUCTION & TRADE
SOURCES : Global Water Intelligence - International Desalination Association - UNEP/MAP - Plan Bleu - MedPan - Atlas Mediterra (2010)
See p. 23
CEREAL / WHEAT OUTPUT & CONSUMPTION
EXTERNAL RESOURCES INTERNAL RESOURCES
GAZA DESALINATION PROJECT
PER PERSON IN CUBIC METERS (2003)
AREAS VULNERABLE TO SEA-LEVEL RISE
1st UfM-ENDORSED WATER PROJECT
AVERAGE ANNUAL WATER AVAILABILITY
SOUTH-EASTERN ANATOLIA PROJECT (GAP) (TURKEY)
ARABIAN/ PERSIAN GULF
Pipline planned Reservoir
N E F U D
D E S E R T
Distribution of installed desalination capacity in the Mediterranean
7 000 3 000 1 000 500
Egypt’s Rooftop Revolution Writer: Hanan Solayman
As food prices rise and water resources dwindle, Egyptians are exploring innovative farming methods and transforming dusty rooftops into productive vegetable gardens.
Moving between wooden tables, Nawal Ramadan tends to the crops in her rooftop garden in the el-Darb el-Ahmar neigh borhood of central Cairo. She calls it her paradise. “It doesn’t matter that we need to buy food from the market as well,” she says. “I feel happy seeing the crops grow.” Ramadan, a grandmother in her 60s, plants a range of herbs and vegetables on her roof including tomatoes, beans, garlic and parsley. “If one day we run out of agri cultural land, we will have an alternative.”
reintroduce vegetation to the urban space in the form of rooftop gardens, where they grow everything from ornamental plants to lettuce, grapes, broccoli, apricots and even mangos. In addition to producing pesticide-free crops, these urban gardens offer important environmental benefits by reducing the rate of air pollution and saving irrigation water. Studies show that the insulation offered by the vegetation on green roofs can significantly cut heating and cooling costs, remove air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, and at the same time produce oxygen.
the concept of soilless agriculture in Egypt in 2000. Launched by the Ministry of Agri culture’s Central Laboratory for Agriculture Climate (CLAC) in cooperation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the €115,000 project provided trainings and workshops to 96 Cairene families. “Although many Egyptians liked the ‘plant and eat’ concept and were keen to farm their own crops, it was difficult to get people to clean their roofs and provide a suitable environment for cultivation,” said Osama el-Beheiry, an agriculture professor at Ain Shams University and an advisor to the CLAC.
Nearly 50 percent of Egypt’s 82 million inhabitants live in cities today, compared to 38 percent in 1960. An estimated 20 million Egyptians live in Cairo, the larg est city in the Mediterranean region. This rapid urban growth is taking a heavy toll on agricultural land in the Nile Delta and the Valley, where an estimated 11,000 hectares of land are lost to the urban sprawl each year, according to a study by the National Water Research Center pub lished in 2011.
While there are no precise figures on the number or productivity of rooftop gardens in Egypt, this new type of small-scale farm ing has gained huge popularity over the past decade, spreading from Cairo to the Delta governorates, Upper Egypt and the New Valley more than 500 kilometers west of the Egyptian capital.
As the initial investment required to set up a rooftop garden – around €34 per square meter – is relatively high, the Green Food project was mainly popular among middleand upper-income families. Women in particular were eager to invest in the nec essary equipment to plant fruit and veg etables for domestic consumption.
But as concrete encroaches on green space, more Egyptians are choosing to
The Green Food from Green Roofs project was one of the first initiatives to introduce
In soilless agriculture, crops grow on a bed of rice husks, sand, peat moss or perlite,
Rooftop planting tables being prepared in Cairo. Source: Aga Khan Foundation
which is laid on plastic sheeting on special wooden tables. A simple system of small plastic hoses drains excess moisture into a bucket. As most rooftops have water connec tions, irrigating the crops is a simple task: the water is mixed with manure and this nutritious solution is applied on the planting tables. This technique consumes around 60 percent less water than traditional agriculture.
Long-term strategy Various governmental bodies and civil society organizations are also making efforts to expand the green roof concept across Egypt. The Ministry of Education launched in 2001 a project in cooperation with CLAC advisors to place ornamental plants on the rooftops of Cairo schools. However, the project, which was funded by the Cairo governorate, could only be implemented in a few schools, as most did not have safe roof spaces or safe access to roofs. Civil society organizations, includ ing the Aga Khan Foundation and several local NGOs, have also launched projects
“I feel happy seeing the crops grow. If one day we run out of agricultural land, we will have an alternative.” Nawal Ramadan, Cairo resident
in lower-income neighborhoods in Cairo, with varying success. According to el-Beheiry, the absence of a long-term government strategy is problem atic. “Government officials work according to their personal preferences and priorities, so whenever an official leaves, we have to start all over again,” he said. Marketing the produce also remains a challenge. “Different NGOs are explor ing how to sell the fruit and vegetables produced in roof gardens directly to local restaurants and cafés, but concrete results have yet to be seen,” el-Beheiry said. He dreams of introducing urban rooftop gardens across the country to improve
public health and general living standards. While efforts remain localized and smallscale, the concept could provide huge environmental benefits to Egypt’s rapidly growing cities. In addition, Egypt’s waterthirsty agricultural sector, which con sumes 86 percent of the country’s water resources, could save significant amounts of water by introducing soilless agriculture and other water-saving techniques on a larger scale. Hanan Solayman is a Cairo-based freelance journalist. She is one of the founders of the EMAJ online magazine created by the EuroMediterranean Academy for Young Journalists and is the founder of Mandara, an online local news portal for Upper Egypt.
Pollution is placing added pressure on the already scarce water resources in the Mediterranean region, further reducing the quantity available for use. The main causes of water pollution in the region are untreated domestic wastewater, industrial sources and agriculture, with higher rates of pollution in southern and eastern countries. 80% of the total pollution affecting the Mediterranean Sea is from land-based sources. Every year 40bn m3 of untreated wastewater is released into the environment in the Mediterranean region. Progress has been made in the domain of sanitation since 1990 with an additional 77 million people connected to sewage systems in southern and eastern countries. In southern and eastern countries, the main environmental problems of coastal water pollution are due to poor treatment of urban waste and mismanagement of chemicals. In northern countries, particularly in the European Union with its more prescriptive regulations, considerable effort has gone into wastewater treatment, chemicals management, pollution prevention and curative measures. Plastics account for 75% of the waste found on the Mediterranean seafloor or surface. The Mediterranean Sea has the largest traffic density of oil tankers in the world with 28% of the world’s sea-borne oil traffic transiting the sea and up to 2,000 ships navigating the sea at any one time. In 2004, the EU “Monitoring Illicit Discharges from Vessels” program recorded 1,425 oil spills in the Mediterranean Sea. Large ships deliberately release an annual 600,000 tons of crude oil into the sea.
Source: GWP-Med, UNEP/MAP-Plan Bleu
Children in Beit Lahiya secondary school Source: Karl Schembri/Oxfam
A Gaza Water Diary Writer: Mohammed Shehada
It has taken me ages to write this article. Every time I get started, I read back over the first three lines and I feel depressed. I keep telling myself, “You don’t want to depress the reader too,” and so I start all over again. After a while I realize what makes it difficult to write this article is that I am trying to reflect the everyday reality of life in Gaza, and our everyday reality is often depressing. Let me nevertheless tell you about water in Gaza.
Until three months ago, I was like most people in Gaza: I didn’t think much about water. In our family, my father is the one who makes sure we have running water in our home. Getting water in Gaza is not simply a question of turning the tap on: as we don’t have a regular water supply from the munic ipality because of the water shortages, we use a system of tanks that are stored on rooftops. They are filled up whenever the water supply is switched on, so that we have reserve supplies to last us for the rest of the week (if we’re careful). It’s simple enough once you know the system. I knew that there were problems with our water. Sometimes the sewage running
through the streets annoyed me, but I didn’t really think much about it. After a while I even got so used to the sewage that I would only notice if it wasn’t flowing down the street by my house. But besides that, I didn’t have any under standing of the situation; I knew that it was “bad” but nothing else. Bad as in “the bad, awful smell of the sewage flooding the streets”, bad as in “bad to drink” though I didn’t know how bad or why and whether this was how water was in other countries. Here in Palestine water is like medicine: you need it, but it has side effects. In the Gaza Strip, water affects your skin and hair when you have a shower, your eyes when you wash, and your kidneys when you drink it – and that’s just the effects I know about. It may sound hard to believe, but I only recently found out that it is not nor mal to have “side effects” when you have a shower: when a friend visited Gaza for a few days, she complained bitterly about the water and I was puzzled – I didn’t know it could be any different…
Salt and sewage But all that was before I got involved in Thirsting for Justice, a campaign run by the Emergency Water and Sanitation Hygiene group (EWASH), an international body that coordinates the work of over 30 organiza tions working in the water and sanitation sector in Palestine. The campaign brings together a group of 40 young Gazans and teaches them how to advocate for their human right to clean, affordable water. It has been a life-changing experience for me: I’ve seen things I didn’t even know existed and learned that in Gaza, water is more often a cause of disease than a source of life. In the first month of the campaign, our activities mainly focused on teaching locals how to save water and making them aware of the growing water scarcity in the Gaza Strip. It was not too challeng ing – a bit like teaching a language course
to beginners, but instead I was informing fellow citizens about the threats posed by water scarcity and pollution. Gazans use about 90 liters of water per day. At first, this seemed like a reasonable amount to me, but then I read that the World Health Organization (WHO) recom mends a minimum of 100l-150l/person/ day to make sure that all health needs are met. What shocked many people is that the average Israeli citizen consumes around 280l/day. How is that possible, I won dered? If we live in the same geographical area and share the same water resources, why is there such a difference? Isn’t there enough water for everybody? The answer is complicated, because on the one hand there is not enough water in Gaza to meet the needs of the 1.6 million people living here, and, on the other hand, the scarce water we do have is heavily polluted with salt, sewage and chemicals. And of course, the political situation has made it impossible to resolve either of these issues, with the result that our water is getting dirtier every day. In Gaza, the only source of water is the Coastal Aquifer, which has a sustainable yield of 55Mm3/year. Over the years, as the population has grown, we have started to over-pump the aquifer to the extent that we now extract around 170Mm3/ year – more than three times the safe yield. As a result, seawater is seeping into the aquifer and our water is salty: a 2009 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study shows that salinity levels in most parts of the Gaza Strip are well above the WHO approved guideline of 250 mg/l. The UNEP has also said that extraction should stop immediately in order to pro tect the Coastal Aquifer and the health of those depending on it. Unfortunately, at the moment we have no other choice than to keep using this water. Saltwater is not the only thing seeping into the aquifer; sewage is also filtering into the groundwater across the Gaza Strip. Every day up to 80 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage is released into the environment and the Mediterranean Sea. Much of this untreated sewage trickles straight into the aquifer,
along with agricultural chemicals such as fertilizer and other dangerous materi als from waste dumps. As a result, nitrate levels in the aquifer are between two and eight times higher than they should be. It basically means we are drinking our own untreated sewage.
Here in Palestine water is like medicine: you need it, but it has side effects.
Gaza blockade In the Gaza Strip, water affects your skin and hair when you have a shower, your eyes when you wash, and your kidneys when you drink it – and that’s just the effects I know about.
You know there is a problem when you find it normal to see sewage flowing down the street. The Gaza Strip only has three wastewater treatment plants, which can not handle the amount of wastewater produced. This means most wastewater is simply left to flow untreated through the wadis to the sea. There are plans to build new wastewater treatment plants and expand existing ones, but the political situ ation has paralyzed all projects. Monther Shublaq, the director general of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), the regional water utility, told us
that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2008 has made construction and rehabilitation work difficult. The CMWU cannot obtain the necessary equipment and materials for the construction of new sewage treatment plants, nor can they obtain material to fix damaged infrastruc ture – sometimes they cannot even obtain simple things like membranes and chlorine to filter and disinfect water. So how does all this affect our drinking water and our health? In our campaign pack it says that if people don’t start sav ing water, we will run out within 10 years.
Children playing close to a sewage pond in Az-Zaitoun neighborhood. Source: Ghada Snunu/EWASH oPt
But after a few months we realized that this is not correct: already today, around 95 percent of the water in Gaza is not fit for human consumption. In Gaza, we don’t drink the water from the tap – it could kill you in a few months if you did. Instead, we buy water from vendors, but this water is also extracted from the aquifer and therefore also very polluted. I’m no expert, but when I read that the water I drink on a daily basis contains not only excessive rates of nitrates, but also fluoride and four to eight times more chloride than the rec ommended WHO guideline, I freaked out! According to the CMWU, 26 percent of dis ease in Gaza is water-related, ranging from chronic diseases such as liver problems and renal failure to water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and hepatitis. As you can see, the more you learn about water in Gaza, the more depressed you get. Meanwhile our awareness-raising ses sions started having an effect, and people we spoke to began to understand the situ ation better. But at the same time, I kept wondering how our work could change things. A young boy came up to me after I gave a lecture in Rafah City. “Basically, you’re saying that if nothing is done to improve the water situation we will die,” he said and gave me a blank look. “So what? It’s nothing new.” His comment left me speechless. Now, every time I see chil dren playing in the street I think of what he said. At the time I responded with a hollow phrase: “Don’t worry,” I said, “the world will come to our aid.” But I’m not sure I believe that myself.
Gaza’s blue babies After our first month of campaigning, we started working on a short film to show the severity of the water crisis in Gaza. The loca tions we chose to shoot our footage were just a few kilometers from my home, but it was like a different world – I had no idea that anyone in Gaza lived in such conditions. We visited the central Gaza Strip, where 35 members of the At-Tattar family live in a twostorey house in an area known as Wadi Gaza or the Gaza Valley. While you may imagine a peaceful green valley with a small river flowing through it, this Gazan valley looks very different: it is flooded with untreated sewage from the hundreds of houses in the area. Only 60 percent of Gazan households are connected to the sewage network; the remainder use septic tanks and cesspits, or simply release the sewage straight into the environment. Many Gazans can’t afford to install proper septic tanks, and many of these tanks and pits collapse during our rainy winter season.
Every day up to 80 million liters of untreated or partially treated sewage is released into the environment and the Mediterranean Sea. 56
The whole At-Tattar family is affected by the sewage that runs by their house – not only by the terrible stench, but also by the bac teria and contaminants in the water. Nour, a 3-month-old baby, was crying constantly while we were speaking to her parents. She was covered in a severe rash, for which the parents could find no cure even though they had visited several doctors. Different studies by UN organizations say that the heavy pollution of Gaza’s water, and particularly the high rates of nitrate, can severely affect the health of infants. Nitrate poisoning leads to “blue baby syndrome”, which can affect a child’s development and even be mortal in severe cases. I can’t even describe how I felt after we vis ited Nour and her parents in Wadi Gaza: I was so sad, but also angry, and I partially blamed myself for the life these people lead, which is the life that so many people live all over the Gaza Strip. “We have to do some thing,” I told my friend. But all she said was, “What do you want to do, when we can’t even get a pack of tissues into Gaza?”
Of course she’s right. But maybe this is where we can play a role after all: we can’t build the treatment plant that will stop the pollution, but we can keep tell ing people around the world about the sad state of our water resources and we can keep asking them to help us reclaim our human right to water. Don’t say it’s not your business, because Palestinians are humans, and so are you. Mohammed Shehada is a student at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Al Azhar University in Gaza and an ambassador for the Thirsting for Justice campaign.
Thirsting for Justice The Thirsting for Justice Campaign was launched on 22 March 2011, World Water Day, by the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group (EWASH) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which is a coalition of 30 leading humanitarian organizations working in the water and sanitation sector in the occupied Palestinian territory. The campaign calls on European governments to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights to water and sanitation, remove obstacles for the development of water and sanitation infrastructure, and end demolitions. Read more about water in Gaza and the EWASH campaign at www.thirstingforjustice.org, join their campaign on Facebook and follow them on Twitter: #T4J.
You know there is a problem when you find it normal to see sewage flowing down the street.
Children collecting stones next to the sewage flow in Wadi Gaza, which used to be a natural marshland. Today it is an open sewage drain. Source: Ghada Snunu/EWASH oPt
Q&A: Source: Ghada Snunu/EWASH oPt
Rebhi al-Sheikh, PWA Revolve speaks to the deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority about the technical, financial and political challenges to water management in Gaza.
The Gaza Strip is the most water-scarce area in the Mediterranean. What are the key causes of this water crisis? Demand for water in the Gaza Strip is more than three times as high as supply. The Coastal Aquifer is the only water resource in Gaza, and it is heavily over-pumped. The technical solutions to this problem are well known: seawater desalination and wastewater treatment facilities. The former would provide water to the domestic sector, while treated wastewater could be used in agriculture. But we face a number of financial and political challenges. Gaza is under siege and its borders are closed, which means that it is not easy to get the necessary materials into the Gaza Strip. How does the absence of water treatment plants affect public health? Gaza’s three existing facilities are outdated and unable to cope with the quantity of wastewater. They do not treat the water to an acceptable level. As a result, untreated wastewater flows partly to the Mediterranean Sea, and partly infiltrates the aquifer, where it contaminates the water resources. According to the World Health Organization, nitrate levels in drinking water should not exceed 50mg/l. In Gaza, you will find that most drinking water wells have nitrate levels of more than 150mg/l and in some cases 300mg/l. More than 90 percent
of the water distributed for domestic purposes in Gaza is far below international standards. The key message is that public health is under serious threat in Gaza because neither the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) nor the private sector can provide the population with clean water.
a desalination plant and wastewater treatment facilities. When these projects are completed, less water will be abstracted from the aquifer and less polluted water will be released into it, with the result that the aquifer will regenerate itself. This will take at least 30 years though, according to our estimates. Besides desalination and the reuse of treated wastewater, what other options does Gaza have?
What can the PWA do to ensure safer drinking water while the wastewater treatment plant and the central desalination plant are “More under construction?
We are seeking additional water supply from Israel, under the terms of the Oslo Accord. Under Article 40, Israel committed to provide Gaza with 5Mm3 than of water per year by 2000. 90 percent Twelve years on, Gaza has not of the water yet received this water. We are therefore discussing this with our distributed Israeli counterparts.
We plan to build three small desalination plants with the support of the international community, for domestic which will provide a How do you see the future of purposes water in Gaza? limited amount of drinking in Gaza is water to the population as The future of water in Gaza a temporary solution. far below depends entirely on the political A further development international situation and a final status is that the 43 countries standards.” settlement agreement. We are of the Union for the not optimistic because we do not Mediterranean recently see an end to the political conflict. endorsed a proposal for a central I expect that our suffering will increase desalination facility in Gaza [see p. 87]. This unless the international community steps is a positive step. up its humanitarian mission to address the question of water and public health in Gaza. Is there any way that the heavy pollution of the aquifer can be reversed? The first step is to develop new water resources through the construction of
Read the full interview : www.revolve-magazine.com
Deir al-Amar, Chouf Mountains, Lebanon. Source: George Haddad
gobernanza del agua gouvernance de l’eau upravljanje vodom διαχείριση υδάτινων πόρων su yönetişim
Water governance includes the political, social, economic and administrative systems in place, which directly or indirectly affect the use, development and management of water resources and the delivery of water services at different levels of society.
The water sector is part of broader interrelated social, political and economic developments, and therefore it is affected by external decisions.
Water governance addresses among other things: • Principles such as equity and efficiency in water resource and services allocation and distribution, water administration based on catchments, the need for integrated water management approaches and the need to balance water use between socioeconomic activities and ecosystems. • The formulation, establishment and implementation of water policies, legislation and institutions. • Clarification of the roles of government, civil society and the private sector, and their responsibilities regarding ownership, management and administration of water resources and services, for example: - intersectoral dialogue and coordination - stakeholder participation and conflict resolution - water rights and permits - the role of women in water management - water quantity and quality standards - bureaucratic obstacles and corruption - price regulation and subsidies - tax incentives and credits
Source: UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI
Building a New Water Culture in Spain Writers: Nuria Hernández-Mora & Francesc La Roca
Spain’s water policy and management system are undergoing profound changes as conflicts mount between traditional stakeholders and newly empowered water users. For over 100 years, water policy and man agement in Spain have been instruments of economic and social transformation. Sig nificant public and private investments in water supply infrastructures have equipped Spain with over 1,200 major dams, 20 major desalination plants – with more under construction – and several inter-basin water transfers. The system has been apparently very successful, with an increase in overall water availability, strong associated eco nomic development and few urban water supply shortages. This success has been supported by a widespread consensus among a strong and largely closed water policy community made up of water manag ers, irrigators, electric (hydropower) utilities and developers.
However, today this historical agreement is in crisis. The environmental damages caused by past policies are now evident, but there are still unsatisfied claims for water, especially in those regions with devastated water ecosystems, such as the Segura, Júcar or Tajo river basins. On the other hand, there is a growing ecological consciousness that is supported in its claims by the water policy objectives of the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD). Water users and stakeholders who previously had little say in policy decisions are also contest ing the long-term privileges of large historic water users with long-term use rights over water. In addition, the growing power of the country’s autonomous regions means that inter-regional conflicts over water allocation decisions are becoming more frequent.
After 2004, Spanish water policy apparently abandoned large hydraulic works in rivers and focused instead on the promotion of desalination as the new supply alternative.
Opposing grand plans
National Water Grid as proposed in the 1993 Draft National Water Plan. Source: Adapted from the 1993 Draft National Hydrologic Plan, Spanish Ministry of Public Works
Today, Spain’s water policy and manage ment system is in transition. The origins of this transformation can be traced back to the 1993 Draft National Hydrologic Plan, known colloquially as Plan Borrell, after the minister responsible for drafting it. The plan was largely inspired by early 20th-century ideals of aiding economic development by moving large volumes of water from the humid north to the more arid south-eastern regions through a series of publicly funded large inter-basin water transfers. For the first time in Spanish hydraulic history, the proposed plan encountered strong opposition from a variety of new policy actors who questioned traditional water policy goals. These new actors included donor regions that questioned the role of water as a motor of national economic development and demanded a greater say in management decisions, and an environmental movement that had been growing in importance since the transition to democracy in the mid-1970s. Portugal, which until then was hardly a relevant player in Spanish water policy decisions, also voiced its opposition to the plan because of potential downstream impacts in shared international river basins. The Borrell Plan was defeated in Parlia ment in 1995 and in 1996 a conserva tive government came to power. The new government approved river basin manage ment plans and in 2000 proposed a new
Ebro water transfer proposed in the 2001 National Hydrologic Plan. Source: Foundation for a New Water Culture
National Hydrologic Plan. The 2000 plan was less ambitious than the 1993 version, but its strategic objective continued to be the historical goal of reaching a “general water balance in Spain”. The main feature of this project was the annual transfer of some 1,000Mm3 of water from the mouth of the Ebro River to Valencia, Murcia and Almeria in the east and south-east, and to Barcelona in the north.
This time the proposed plan encountered a well-organized and informed opposi tion from regional governments in donor regions, strong social and environmental movements, and a wide academic and scientific community that questioned the project’s viability on environmental, eco nomic, social and regional equity grounds. Particularly relevant was a strong coali tion of citizen organizations that included regionally based social movements, such as the Association in Defense of the Ebro Delta in the Lower Ebro in Catalonia and COAGRET (Association of People Affected by Large Dams and Water Transfers), with a strong presence in Aragon, where many of the new dams would have had to be built. Other associations included wellestablished environmental groups, such as WWF-Spain, SEO/Birdlife and Ecolo gists in Action, as well as a strong group of academics and technical experts orga nized around the Foundation for a New Water Culture. This coalition carried out an effective and coordinated strategy that involved social mobilization in donor and recipient basins; public education and outreach efforts; an effective advocacy campaign in the EU (that was to provide funding support for the project); and the publication of count less studies and reports questioning the projects’ socioeconomic viability and environmental impacts. Scientists and experts affiliated to the Foundation for a New Water Culture were also instrumental in articulating the principles underpinning new water management and policy goals, embodied under the concept of the New Water Culture. This new paradigm advo cated for a shift in water policy away from large projects causing irreversible envi ronmental and social impacts, towards a greater focus on demand-side solutions and public participation. Although the Popular Party majority gov ernment approved the plan in 2001, it was ultimately shelved as a result of the European Commission’s reluctance to provide funds for the project, mass pro tests in Madrid, Barcelona and Brussels, and the socialist victory in the 2004 Span ish national election.
The New Water Culture advocated for a shift in water policy away from large projects causing irreversible environmental and social impacts, towards a greater focus on demand-side solutions and public participation.
New battles After 2004, Spanish water policy appeared to abandon large hydraulic works in rivers and focused instead on the promotion of desalination as the new supply alterna tive. The new “AGUA” program (Actions for Water Management and Use) envisaged the construction of some 20 desalina tion plants along the Mediterranean coast (from Barcelona to Almeria) to provide the water that would otherwise have been supplied through the Ebro transfer. At the same time the implementation of the EUWFD was prioritized, with an increased emphasis on economic rationality, demand management, ecological conservation and social participation. However, the reaction of the traditional water policy community was effective enough to change the course of action after the 2008 re-election of the socialist government. The new management team in the Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs – which is responsible for water policies – was unable to com plete the planning process under the EUWFD, which is still largely blocked, while the inter-regional conflict gained momen tum. New national elections in 2011 have once again changed the territorial balance
of power, producing a new political map dominated by the conservative party, both at national and regional levels. It is still unclear how the new political context will affect water policies and planning. Whatever the outcome of this new politi cal period, new players and actors are now part of policy debates over water in Spain. New management goals and priorities are an integral part of the policy-making process so that water is no longer at the exclusive service of sectoral policies. The New Water Culture philosophy is now an essential component of water manage ment debates and is inspiring similar debates in other areas, such as land use and transportation. Traditional stakehold ers continue to resist changes, but water management in Spain is today clearly undergoing an irreversible transformation.
Nuria Hernández-Mora is an expert in water policy and governance and the president of the Foundation for a New Water Culture. Francesc La Roca is a professor of applied economics at the University of Valencia and a member of the Foundation for a New Water Culture.
Q&A: Source: Revolve
Arab Water Council Revolve meets the Arab Water Council's President Mahmoud Abu Zeid (R) and Secretary General Safwat Abdel-Dayem (L) to discuss the future of water management in the Arab region.
The Arab world is one of the most arid regions in the world, disposing of only 1 percent of global water resources. Do you feel decision-makers are sufficiently aware of the looming water crisis? Mahmoud Abu Zeid: I believe some decision-makers are aware. But they need to be convinced that water should be at the top of their agenda. They need to prioritize water planning and allocate the required funds; this is not happening at the moment. Would you say the region is already facing a water crisis today? Sawfat Abdel-Dayem: There will undoubtedly be a crisis if water use is not rationalized. New water resources need to be developed through technologies like desalination and the use of treated wastewater. Management must be improved and there needs to be greater public awareness of the problem of water scarcity. Our aim is to strengthen all aspects of management to avoid a crisis. Despite the growing water scarcity in the Arab region, public awareness of the problem remains low. Why? MA: Scarcity takes place on the national level, but when you come down to the local level – houses or farms – users do not necessarily see the scarcity. They open the tap and the water is
there, while other people are not getting anything. It is important to enhance public awareness. We have a number of programs to address this: we work with users, journalists, farmers, water user associations and other stakeholders. The Arab world has been identified as a climate change hotspot. What measures are national governments and regional organizations like the Arab Water Council and others taking to limit the effects of climate change on the region’s population and “Climate water resources?
assessments. The Arab Water Council is currently working on a four-year regional project with the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and data provided by NASA to get a more precise idea of the local impact of climate change in five countries in the region: Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco [see box, p. 65]. Do you think the Arab uprisings will have an impact on water governance in the future?
SA: During the Arab uprisings we have seen people demand equity, lower food prices and freedom, which means better governance. change is From our side, we have been calling for improved today no longer just water governance for SA: Climate change is today an expectation; a long time through conferences, workshops no longer just it is a reality.” and training courses – an expectation; even before the uprisings. it is a reality. But we have always Governments emphasized that good water governance in the region have started to integrate cannot be achieved if a country’s overall climate change adaptation policies and political governance is not improved. action plans into their development agendas. However, action plans are not Does this also relate to transparency in sufficient; we need expertise to help us water governance? assess with greater precision the impact of climate change on water in the region. SA: Today everything is more transparent than in the past. People are taking the The initial predictions are daunting: lead and entering into dialogue with the forecasts show a 20 percent reduction leadership, and stating their grievances in the already low rainfall levels, as openly, even in the absence of the normal well as extreme floods and droughts. constitutional arrangements. In the future, These predictions are based on global
Strengthening Information Systems A new regional program to improve water management in five Arab coun tries will harness state-of-the-art technology to improve water-data col lection and monitoring. the new parliaments and parties will have to adopt a transparent approach to aspects of their work and management of national resources. One of the key challenges to improved water governance in the Arab world is the absence of accurate and comprehensive data on the state of water resources. How can this ongoing problem be addressed? MA: Data is essential for the development of water policy. In certain cases data is not available due to a lack of monitoring devices and observation stations. However the development of better data collection systems requires funds. Meanwhile we also need capacity building to train the people who collect the data. The exchange of data is essential at all levels: in the domain of climate change, shared water resources and elsewhere. A number of international conventions call for the free exchange of data, but this is still not happening today. We believe there should be bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries; one general convention is not enough. This then brings us to the issue of trust, which poses a further challenge to the development of sound policies, as data is reluctantly shared. Is there a way of building greater trust between parties in the region? MA: Even in the presence of conventions, countries should trust each other and see that data sharing is mutually beneficial. In certain cases, data may be sensitive and difficult to share, and we should accept that, but in general data should be shared. Is there a future for agriculture in this arid region? MA: Agriculture is essential to the region. The Arab League has also recognized this. We believe that there should be a
Launched by the Arab Water Council in 2011, the program is funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Global Environment Facility. The program aims to improve water resources and agricultural manage ment in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tuni sia and Morocco. Water scarcity is a growing problem in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), a region with high population growth, rapid urbanization and rising demand from the agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors. Fourteen of 20 WANA countries already face situa tions of water scarcity, with less than 500m3 of water per person per year. In the future, this situation of scarcity is likely to worsen and also affect other, relatively water-rich countries in the region. Climate change forms an additional threat to the region’s water resources, with Intergovernmental Panel on Cli mate Change (IPCC) models predicting a rise in temperature and a 30 percent drop in rainfall levels by 2050.
certain degree of food security, although this varies from one country to another. We are not encouraging 100 percent food security – this is impossible due to a lack of resources and lack of land – and countries need to accept this. But there must a certain degree of security. The question of virtual water and the amount of food that a country imports and exports should also be considered; a balance needs to be achieved. In Egypt, I do not encourage the export of a waterthirsty crop like rice for example, as is the case now.
The Arab Water Council’s “Regional Improved Water Resources Manage ment and Capacity Building Program” will use quantitative and spatial deci sion-making tools such as Geographic Information Systems, data assimilation and modeling techniques. The addi tional use of Water Information System Platform (WISP) tools developed by NASA will significantly enhance the relevance, consistency and application of water data collection, thus contrib uting to improved water management and planning in the region. Water data collection traditionally takes place through on-site measurements. However, in many WANA countries, data tends to be unreliable or incom plete. The resulting absence of data management systems across WANA are significant obstacles to: • providing standardized access to scientific and objective information on water availability and consumption • supporting infrastructure design decisions • monitoring trend impacts of climate change on water resources • improving governance, cooperation and accountability in the water sector.
How do you see the future of water resources in the Arab world? What will the region look like in 25 years? MA: I am optimistic because there are plenty of political, economic and technical solutions. Everything will depend on the strategies and plans that policy-makers choose to put in place. Our role is to advise policy-makers and encourage the Arab League Council of Ministers to make commitments. Read the full interview : www.revolve-magazine.com
Reflections on Water Governance
in a Changing World Writer: Odeh Al-Jayyousi Photographer: Adel Samara
The protests in the Arab world have instigated a process of wide-ranging social and political change. But will these changes also impact water governance structures in the Arab region?
In the popular protests sweeping across the Arab region, citizens from Tunisia to Bahrain and from Syria to Yemen are demanding greater equity, accountability and transpar足 ency from their governments, engaging the whole region in a process of far-reaching and irreversible sociopolitical change. But will these changes also resonate in the domain
The remains of the village of Tal Abr in north-eastern Syria that was flooded with the construction of the Tishrin Dam in 1999 (pp 66-69).
of water and instigate the much-needed reform of water governance and water man agement practices? And are there parallels between the political and social stagnation in the Arab region and the core issues that constrain efficient water management in West Asia and North Africa (WANA)? To explore these questions, it is important to define “good governance”. This is a term broadly used in corporate, international, national and local contexts, but that is
not always clearly understood. The United Nations (UN) has identified eight charac teristics of good governance, including that it is consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, equitable and follows the rule of law. These notions can also be applied to the domain of water and the development of good water governance. But does the Arab region have sound water governance struc tures? And can recent political changes brought on by popular uprisings help inform new water governance structures?
Ineffective reform The Arab region witnessed the birth of early hydraulic civilizations and has a rich history of water legislation, from the Babylonian Hammurabi Code to Islamic water law. Cur rently, two distinct institutional water gover nance frameworks can be distinguished in the WANA region: • centralized frameworks that manage water resources primarily at the national level through one or more ministries. • decentralized frameworks that manage water at multiple levels. While individual water governance models are influenced by a country’s history, gov ernmental structure and local customs, most Arab countries have centralized national water management systems. A number of countries such as Morocco and Yemen have implemented water sec
tor reform since the early 1990s, creat ing new legal frameworks to decentralize water management. In these countries, the responsibility and authority for political and economic decision-making has been trans ferred from the national level to lower, more local tiers of government, including districts and municipalities, but also to the private sector, civil society organizations and even communities or users themselves. Tunisia, Syria and Jordan have also initiated reform processes, providing legislation to delegate water management responsibili ties to lower levels of government, such as local water management committees and water user associations. Therefore, it seems that over the last 20 years water policies have been in line with good water governance. But while reform measures have been outlined in detail on paper, in practice the dominant autocratic political culture in most Arab countries has prevented the implementation of genuine water reforms and decentralization. As a result, there is little evidence of greater civil society involvement; more informed decision-making; or improved governmen tal responsiveness, particularly in the water services sector. In addition, little has been done to integrate local traditions, knowl edge and practices in broader water man agement strategies. Water laws are only one aspect of the sectoral reform process. Reform can only be effective if there is an enabling political and economic environ ment in which laws and transparency can be guaranteed.
Food, water and energy security Any reform of water management in the Arab region entails a review of agricultural policies and subsidies, and, more crucially, a significant shift in attitudes to address the closely interlinked issues of water, food and energy security. This is particularly impor tant as the Arab region already imports 50 percent of its water in the form of food. The region’s water security is closely linked to its water-thirsty agricultural sec tor, which uses 83 percent of the water resources on average. However, despite this high water investment, most Arab countries have not achieved food selfsufficiency or even food security. The region as a whole imports 40-50 percent of its cereals and had a food imports bill of €21bn in 2006 according to the United Nations Development Programme. In order to address food insecurity, Arab countries have tried to boost domestic cereal pro duction through agricultural subsidies, while promoting groundwater exploitation for irrigation. This has often resulted in the unsustainable use of non-renewable resources as in Libya, where the Great Man-Made River taps 6Mm3 of fossil water per day from the Nubian Sandstone Aqui fer in the Sahara Desert and transports it to coastal regions for agricultural, domes tic and industrial use [see pp. 45-48] Such a project is clearly the product of a political system in which scientific discourse has limited or no influence on policy-making. Moreover, such large-scale governmentbacked agricultural and irrigation schemes have proven insufficient to address food self-sufficiency, as in the case of Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Data published by the International Fund for Agricultural Development show that in the Arab region, on average 37 per cent – or 47.6 million people out of an economically active population of 126 mil lion – were engaged in farming in 2006, down from 47.8 percent in the 1990s. Agriculture’s contribution to gross domes tic product is quite low, ranging from 0.3 percent in Kuwait and Qatar to 34 percent in Sudan. The regional average was 12.5 percent in 2005.
This underscores the urgent need for wideranging reforms in the water and agricul tural sectors to enhance productivity, create new jobs and stimulate research and devel opment into new technologies. The intro duction of drought- and salt-tolerant crops, early sowing, supplementary irrigation and new cropping patterns also needs to be considered. In all these areas, science and technology can provide innovative solutions, which allow for the production of “more with less”. Countries in the Arab region must link research to development and encourage regional cooperation in order to advance technology and stimulate capacity building. The notion of regional water cooperation is particularly important as the Arab region receives 60 percent of its surface water from non-Arab states. This makes regional cooperation among Arab countries and their neighbors essential to achieving water, food and energy security. Countries that share water resources – both surface and groundwater – must also seek to cooper ate and develop a new social contract, which engages civil society and promotes interdependencies and mutual gains. Hydro-solidarity within river basins and regional integration in the domain of water, food and energy are key to addressing regional water challenges. Build ing interdependence through common projects, and invest ment in Information & Com munications Technology (ICT) and hydro-informatics research is essential to build confidence. As digital tools, such as mobile phones and the internet, were instrumental to the Arab protests, so ICT can improve the monitoring of water use efficiency and water quality. In this context, the idea of establishing a water, food and energy community in the WANA region – following the model of the European Coal and Steel Community estab lished in 1951 between six European states – is worth pursuing at high policy levels. Reform of key regional institutions such as the Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council is a prerequisite for ensuring an efficient coordination of both human and
Countries in the Arab region must link research to development and encourage regional cooperation in order to advance technology and stimulate capacity-building. natural capitals. The key lesson is that the interdependencies between natural resources development, science, tech nology and R&D need to provide new job opportunities and a positive outlook for the growing, young population. Investing in responsible water resource development for poverty alleviation is crucial for sustainable livelihood and economies.
Policy-makers play a vital role in successful water policy reform by building trust among water users and riparian states. Clear com munication is necessary to develop mutual understanding with the introduction of a new water discourse that is transparent
and comprehensible. Institutionalized pub lic participation, in the form of river basin commissions and water parliaments for instance, is essential to building trust and a joint consensus about the use and develop ment of shared water resources.
Key issues in water management in Arab countries Issue
Level of exploitation of water resources and trends
High-level of exploitation and overabstraction of groundwater leading to salt-water intrusion. Major deficits in drinking water supply in rural areas.
Strict water policies for groundwater abstraction, monitoring and pricing.
Role of agriculture
Limited contributor to GDP in most countries.
Promote water productivity concept and high-value crops.
Water quality and ecosystems
Deterioration of water quality.
Incorporate the concept of payments for ecosystems services in economic valuations and assessments.
Water demand measures
Constraints in the implementation of price schemes.
Promotion of water-saving technologies and effective pricing.
Desalination and wastewater reuse
A small contribution to total water supply. Desalination is mainly used in the Arab Gulf countries.
Promote non-conventional sources of water; invest in R&D and new technology.
Institutions and legal systems
The institutional legal framework for IWRM is in place in many countries.
Need to reinforce regulatory functions and enforce standards.
Reallocation of water resources
Water saved in agriculture could be reallocated to other sectors.
Develop water allocation policy among competing sectors.
In his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail and Survive (2005) author Jared Diamond argues that through history societies have collapsed when they failed to address problems such as unsustain able water use, top-soil loss and climate change. In every case, societies contrib uted to their own downfall by overexploit ing the natural resources around them for short-term gain, while ignoring the longterm consequences. The 14th-century Arab historian Ibn Khaldoun argued in his theory on the cycle of civilizations that when societies lose their moral fiber and the elite exploit the masses, societies fall and civilizations die. The Arab protests represent a chance for fundamental, farreaching social and political change in the region. We must seize this opportunity to implement equally radical transformations in water governance structures to secure a safe water future for the region. Odeh Al-Jayyousi is vice-president for Science and Research at the Royal Scientific Society and a professor of Water Resources and Environment at Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT), in Amman, Jordan.
Q&A: Source: Murcia Government
Ramón Luis Valcárcel, ARLEM As a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), the president of Spain’s Murcia Region believes in the importance of developing regional synergies to tackle water scarcity and aridity.
What are the main priorities of the Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean that was presented by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in 2011? This strategy [see p.79] focuses on solutions for shared water problems with the effective participation of the regions involved. This objective goes in tandem with carrying out specific projects, with the full collaboration of European Union Member States and all countries in the Mediterranean region. How can this strategy be implemented most efficiently? We aim to transmit and combine project experiences that have had positive results between regions, so as to provide solutions to water problems. A homogenous line of action can then be created in the regions that are looking for shared results in the sustainable management of water resources. What are the greatest challenges facing Mediterranean countries in the domain of water and environment? Many regions in the Mediterranean basin share a common problem: water scarcity. In Murcia, we are very familiar with this problem and we have been working hard to find sustainable solutions. Our goal is to make these solutions available to other areas of the Mediterranean via an
exchange of experiences, projects and ideas that will benefit us all. How can one create a popular culture for water management and proper water governance? Popular awareness about water and actual water governance are two key issues. One of our priorities is to establish a common strategy with integrated means, to strengthen the capacity of governments, cities and regions, to respond better to global challenges such as water scarcity. Projections about future water availability mean that we must adopt a “Water and unified position energy are around the Mediterranean, the main based on challenges sharing regional experiences. What projects are top priorities for you?
facing all countries in the mid to long term.”
On behalf of the Region of Murcia, we believe in launching a pilot project to show the effects of water scarcity and drought in semi-arid areas, as well as to highlight the best strategies to confront this challenge, from integrated management of water resources to the implementation of popular solidarity and
resource sustainability. Our region can offer an ideal laboratory for such a pilot project to be successful. As the water-energy-cities nexus becomes more prominent, are there success stories around the Mediterranean, in Murcia for example? Water and energy are the main challenges facing all countries in the mid to long term. In the Region of Murcia, we have created an infrastructure network to maximize use and reuse. For example, cogeneration plants for energy production lead to a reduction in energy use during water treatment, thereby consuming and polluting less throughout the process.
The Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) was estab lished in January 2010 by the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR), local and regional authorities around the Mediterranean, and international and European associations representing local and regional bodies in the EuroMediterranean area, to provide the Union for the Mediterranean with cru cial local and regional support when carrying out its projects. In the domain of water, ARLEM published a report on local water management in the Mediterranean in 2011, which was authored by Ramón Luis Valcárcel.
Breaking Down Barriers A group of young engineering students from around the Mediterranean is creating a new dynamic in the water arena, invigorating ties between north and south, and forging new ones between junior and senior actors. To outsiders, the world of water resource communities and developing bottom-up management remains a largely obscure projects, the UMJAE has organized student place, securely guarded by specialists and water workshops throughout the region to their scientific jargon. Water experts excel in research the state of local water resources and assess needs on the talking to each other, but often forget to engage civil society. “Water expert ground. Five projects have been earmarked for fur L’Ambassade de l’Eau [the meetings and ther development, includ Embassy of Water], a French ministerial ing projects to address non-governmental organiza councils used local water treatment tion (NGO) with a specific focus in Morocco and Tunisia, on the Mediterranean region, to be exclusive an educational project is changing this dynamic by clubs. But in the in Gaza, and a project in connecting macro- and microLebanon to reverse rurallevel water management and last two years urban migration. putting aspiring water experts the mindset In addition to this strong in charge of concrete projects. has changed. focus on local involve “We want to confront tomor Decision-makers ment, the UMJAE is suc row’s water leaders with the “breaking down are listening to cessfully realities on the ground and mental barriers” between show them that water prob the younger north and south to culti lems are not just theoretical,” generation and vate a shared Mediterra said Jeannette Prétot, the nean identity among the Embassy’s president. to the needs of students. Fabien Esculier, citizens." a former water ambas Prétot – of Lebanese origin and living in France for over 30 Jeannette Prétot, sador, said that working President, Embassy of Water with peers from Morocco, years – said that the creation Syria and Palestine had of the Union for the Mediter ranean (UfM) inspired her to establish made him aware of a shared Mediterranean the Mediterranean Union of Young Water identity. “The fact that we were all working Ambassadors (UMJAE) in 2008 as part of together and discussing issues left a strong impression on me,” he said. the Embassy. This network of engineering students includes 29 “water ambassadors” from 11 Mediterranean countries. Engaging local
The UMJAE’s sixth and arguably most important project is STRATEAU, a software application tool developed by the Embassy
to facilitate decision-making processes in the world of water. Following the development of a prototype in 2009, the water ambassadors tested the tool in three river basins in France, Lebanon and Morocco, and presented it at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille in March 2012. Prétot describes STRATEAU as a “kind of computer game” which allows users to simulate the economic, environmental and social impact of different development sce narios. Through the input of easily obtain able socioeconomic, climatic, hydrological and geographic data, decision-makers and other users can assess the impact of the construction of a new industrial zone in a given area, for example, and compare it to the results of intensifying agricultural devel opment in the same area. Six French water utilities, two privatesector companies and the Embassy con tributed to funding STRATEAU’s initial design and the current phase of develop ment and fine-tuning. Presently the Embassy is seeking funding from different international organizations and private companies. Prétot under scores the importance of this next phase that will effectively increase the tool’s utility for the Mediterranean region as more countries contribute data and users expand its applications. “STRATEAU can be compared to Facebook in that sense: it is an interface. It will have no value if no one creates additional input and expands the database. And this will obviously require funding.” The work of the Young Water Ambassadors has strengthened relationships between water experts around the Mediterranean, creating a new dynamic between north and south, and between junior and senior actors in the water arena. “Water expert meetings and ministe rial councils used to be exclusive clubs,” said Prétot. “But in the last two years the mindset has changed. I don’t know if it is because young people have become involved, but the decision-makers are all ears. They are listening more to the younger generation and to the needs of citizens. The change is extraordinary.”
Cooperation as a Solution to the Region’s Water Crisis For Jordan’s former Minister of Water and Irrigation Munther Haddadin, West Asia and North Africa face a series of intercon nected water challenges. “Almost all WANA countries face a chronic imbalance in the population-water resources equation, with dwindling water supplies and rapidly rising population figures,” says Haddadin. “The absence of formal agreements for the sharing of international rivers and groundwater aquifers forms a second challenge.” To these two key challenges, Had dadin adds the lack of skilled human resources and financing to develop water resource management plans, and the underpricing of water in countries with low-income and lower-mid dle-income economies. “We must highlight the failure of many WANA countries to adopt new technologies that could enhance water resources management and boost plant production per unit flow of water.”
According to Haddadin, closer cooperation with the European Union and its member states can help address the many water challenges facing WANA. “The European Union could help tackle many water problems in WANA,” he says. “First of all, commodity trading should be enhanced as this could help bal ance the population-water resources equation. Next would be technical assistance in the form of capacity building and tech nology transfer in the water sector. Another avenue for coop eration would be providing capital and assistance in reaching multilateral water-sharing agreements through negotiations.” Munther Haddadin served as a senior negotiator in Jordan's delegations to the Middle East Peace Process in charge of water, energy and the environment between 1991 and 1995.
Sharing the Wealth Turkish water expert Ibrahim Gürer outlines a number of basic, interrelated problems that need to be addressed in most Mediterranean countries: population increase, scarcity, pollu tion, distribution losses, outdated and inefficient agricultural technologies, and an overly complicated bureaucratic structure surrounding water management. “This applies to all countries in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean as well as in the Balkans. France, Italy and Spain are in a different category; their position appears to be better,” he says. However, Gürer believes that the water issue cannot be addressed before other conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean region are resolved. “At the moment, other issues take priority over water,” he says. “Safeguarding human lives is the first priority, then come other basic needs like water.” So what is the solution to the complex mix of issues threatening the future of water resources in the region? “Trust,” says Gürer. “If governments can trust each other, they can come together to find a solution.” He also warns against overly alarmist predictions about future scarcity in the region. “In 1993, experts predicted that within 20 years there would be no water, no food and no green cover
in Jordan or Israel. Nineteen years later, life is going on as always. So I think we need to question whether such comments are helpful; they do nothing to encourage positive thinking in the Mediterranean region.” Gürer advocates the sharing of resources in a spirit of equal ity and inclusiveness. “When there is water on your table, you cannot understand the situation of people who have none,” he says. “Islam encourages the sharing of wealth, not only water wealth, but all kinds of wealth. But if you look at how we deal with water today, we are not sharing. Instead there is a struggle for sovereignty over water resources: the principle of equitable and reasonable use of all available resources – not only water – is not being observed. We cannot change human nature, but we can at least encourage people to share their resources and help each other to create a better world.” Ibrahim Gürer is a professor of hydraulics at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey.
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Jounieh, Lebanon. Source: George Haddad 73
su mevzuatı νομοθεσία ύδατος vodno zakonodavstvo
legislation sur l'eau legislación sobre aguas
While many Mediterranean countries share hydrological similarities, there are several different basic types of legal traditions in the region. The two most common are Islamic law (sharia) and civil law – each of which has a unique approach to water. Under sharia (a word that originally referred simply to the law of water), water is held in common by the community – though one may in some cases create limited ownership rights through the addition of labor. Two primary rights to water exist in Islamic law: the right of thirst and the right of irrigation. Despite the introduction of new laws, traditional Islamic water law continues to be observed in many countries both as written and customary law. Civil law countries – those descending from Roman law and adhering to a civil code – regard water ownership differently. In these systems, water may either be public or private, but there is no concept of common ownership. Once water is in the public domain, it is subject to a highly developed system of administrative law. Groundwater exploitation in the Mediterranean has skyrocketed in recent decades, resulting in serious depletion. Groundwater regulation is underdeveloped in most Mediterranean countries. A frequent hurdle to regulating groundwater is that extraction often occurs on private land. Some legislatures have attempted to regulate around this extraction using groundwater-specific provisions, but in most countries there is no differentiation between groundwater and surface water.
Source: Caponera, Principles of Water Law and Administration (1992), Salame & Kharouf-Gaudig, Water Law in East Mediterranean Countries (2011), EUWI-Med
a Model Water Code for the Mediterranean Writers: Diana Biller, Natasha Bhushan, Tamaron Greene & Matt Danforth
The introduction of a model water code in the Mediterranean region could contribute to water law reform and promote equitable allocation and sustainable use of water resources. Growing water scarcity around the world means water laws need to be modernized and reformed, particularly in arid regions such as the Mediterranean. Sustainable practices – both ancient and modern – should be embraced to preserve both water quantity and quality. The academic sphere has long advo cated sustainable water management. Unfortunately, there is often a translation gap between new understanding and the creation of laws. Students at Cornell Law School are working with an interdisciplin ary team to examine the possible role of a model water code as a tool to promote sound local water governance in the Medi terranean region.
What is a model code, and how can it help? A model code can be seen as a template for legal reform – like a cookbook, from which the cook can follow a recipe to the letter or modify it according to taste. Model codes do not seek to create uniformity between nations, but rather to promote clarification, greater simplicity and acces sibility. They may also attempt to advance common understanding and application of relevant international legal instruments. One example of an influential model code in the United States is the Model Penal Code, which was introduced in the 1960s and aimed to, among other things, update and standardize the coun
try's penal code. There are 52 criminal codes in the U.S., with significant vari ance between them. Although many provisions of the code were not adopted in all (indeed, most) states, it has helped reform, and created greater consistency between the various states. Even if it is not adopted, the presence of a model code can foster better understand ing of the legal problems it addresses. By making sound institutional, technical, and legal understanding easily avail able to those who seek reform, the code may assist in the effective distribution of resources – both economic and otherwise.
What should a model code contain? The key objective of the model water code is to help water-scarce nations to modern ize and update their water laws in order to achieve equitable allocation and ensure sustainable use. One starting point for considering the components of a model water code are the hard and soft law instruments of international law. Portions of these agreements such as the Aarhus Convention contain provisions that can be translated to the local level.
As the number of countries suffering from water scarcity grows, sound water laws become increasingly vital.
Lessons from international law: The Aarhus Convention The Aarhus pillars – part of the 1997 Aar hus Convention – provide useful guidelines for a model water code. These three pillars are access to information, public partici pation in decision-making and access to justice. The first pillar imposes a duty on national governments to disseminate infor mation and promote public awareness. The second pillar supports the inclusion of citizen groups in decision-making and has been interpreted to require an environmen tal impact assessment for projects that will have a significant adverse effect on the environment. The third pillar – access to justice – could be transposed into the model code as a provision allowing citizens and non-governmental organizations to sue authorities that have not fulfilled their duties. Adding such accountability mea sures will give government action concern ing water more legitimacy.
Heavy water use in the tourism sector needs to be balanced against existing uses. Source: Zrim
The equitable allocation of water The imbalance between supply and demand in water-scarce regions means that not all water demands from differ ent sectors can be met and that demand from different sectors compete with each other. For example, agriculture is generally the largest water user, consuming over 90 percent of water in some countries. With an emphasis on equity, the needs of the agricultural sector must be balanced with those of other stakeholders. The model code would promote equitable allocation in two crucial ways: by promoting local water governance and by focusing on demo cratic participation. The model water code research group believes both of these are integral to equitable water use. Water demands and uses are local. There fore, promoting sound local governance in water management is essential, especially
where water resources are stressed. With this local empowerment, however, must come the realization that there are com mon problems found in local government. For example, traditional local governance commonly marginalizes women. Because of concerns like this, a model code should also promote democratic participation, for instance through the creation of a broadbased citizen advisory council that repre sents different groups in society.
Emphasizing sustainable management
tunately, in some countries these water supply systems have been badly damaged through neglect or because of other water projects. Attention to local expertise could help avoid situations like this, both pre serving the water supply and conserving economic resources. Without local acceptance, both water projects and water laws could fail. A first step towards gaining local acceptance
is to ensure that relevant information is available and accessible, mirroring the first pillar of the Aarhus Convention. Dis seminating information requires relevant authorities to collect and compile data about the water quality and quantity in their jurisdictions, and to make this information available to the public. It also implies the obligation of the authorities to respond to requests for information.
Cross-section of a typical qanat. Source: Revolve
Sustainable management is essential in order to protect water resources in waterscarce nations. As argued above, this must involve local decision-making. Without the engagement of local knowledge, deci sions may be made that are not suited to an area’s environment. For example, the qanat is an ancient and sustainable tech nology used in many arid Mediterranean countries. Through a network of tunnels and wells, qanats ensure a fairly consis tent source of water in both wet and dry years, and avoid evaporation losses. Unfor
Ideally, technical service providers, who are trained and available to work with local communities and landowners, could disseminate this information. Technical providers can play a vital role in educating the public in such critical matters as water conservation, and protection of the local water resources. Most water-scarce areas must balance competing interests. Countries drawing significant support from tourism may need to balance the need for new hotels and tourist attractions – and their prospec tive heavy use of water – against existing water uses. In order to encourage sustain able practices while remaining realistic, the model water code should include a comprehensive water plan requirement. Such a plan would provide a rational con text for decision-making regarding any new development schemes.
The model code and privatization To address water shortage and quality prob lems, many countries have privatized water utilities. In some countries, such as Chile, privatization has improved the quality of water supplies and expanded distribution. However, other projects have suffered from insufficient capitalization, political unpopu larity and long-term unsustainability. These shortcomings, arising from inadequate plan ning and a lack of transparency, drain states of both money and water. A model code can assist municipalities in considering whether to privatize and in determining the sound legal instruments by which to do so. Projects often inaccurately forecast con sumption or face public resistance. In
Cochabamba, Bolivia, the private operator predicted that both previous consumers and newly connected users would con sume water at the same rate. The new users actually consumed far less, and prof its plummeted. Likewise, in the Jordanian capital Amman, under Amman’s manage ment contract with the French multina tional water company Suez, high tariff rates charged by the operator prompted com mercial users to seek alternative sources, which depleted the groundwater supply. The operator also failed to give advance notice of price increases. These oversights led to political opposition and eventual dis continuance of both projects.
involvement could occur as consultation in developing the privatization policy or in the form of public review after the government has devised a plan. As exemplified by privatization in Tur key, conflict between operators (trying to increase consumption) and the state (pro moting water conservation) can exacerbate scarcity problems. A model code could temper divergence by requiring the state to consider alignment tools like performance penalties and rewards, debt guarantees or profit-sharing agreements. Finally, the model code could also guide the par ties’ choice of dispute-resolving bodies to enforce these mechanisms.
A model code could address problems like these by requiring the state to invite local participation in project planning. This
Where do we go from here? The model code would promote equitable allocation in two crucial ways: by promoting local water governance and by focusing on democratic participation.
Water at Cornell University The model water code project is part of the Water Law Clinic, taught by Professor Keith Porter at Cornell Law School and was recently presented at “Water Scarcity and Policy in the Middle East and Mediterranean,” a conference organized by Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. The Atkinson Center aims to promote sustainability researchers at Cornell University, a lengthy list that spans 10 colleges and 55 depart ments. This includes a project, led by Professors Gail HolstWarhaft and Tammo Steenhuis, on water governance in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
As the number of countries suffering from water scarcity grows, sound water laws become increasingly vital. At the com munity level, decision-makers and major users of water will need effective legal tools. A model water code is such a tool. The model water code group at Cornell Law School is continuing its preliminary research and will begin developing a draft model code for field-testing in 2012. After a testing and re-formulation period, it will be released online. Diana Biller, Natasha Bhushan, Tamaron Greene and Matt Danforth are students at Cornell Law School and editors at the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and the Cornell International Law Journal. The authors would like to express special thanks to Professor Keith Porter, Professor Gail Holst-Warhaft and Sheila Saia.
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Strengthening Legislation to Improve Governance Writer: Fuad Bateh
Developing the capacity to enforce water legislation around the Mediterranean is crucial for the success of regional, national and local initiatives to improve water governance. Many regions around the world are experiencing a natural resource drama brought on by increasing populations and decreasing amounts of freshwater for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses. In consultation with local stakehold ers and international actors, governments are developing strategies and solutions for sustainable water management with a particular emphasis on improved regional, national and local water governance. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) contributes to the development of good water governance by fulfilling the political mandate of the July 2008 Paris Summit for the Mediterranean. The Ministerial Confer ence on Water, which was held in Jordan in December 2008, acted on the directive of the 43 heads of states and governments in Paris by mandating the development and political endorsement of a Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean. Despite political difficulties preventing the endorsement of the draft strategy, the long-term objectives of the mandated policy framework are important to conserve water quality and to balance water availability and use to achieve regional sustainable eco nomic growth, social prosperity and access to water for all, along with environmental protection and rehabilitation. A strategy shared by 43 countries would stimulate the development of policy, coop eration and technological tools, promoting the exchange of knowledge and contrib uting to peace and stability. The strategy aims to provide a common policy frame work and vision for achieving Integrated
Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Mediterranean region countries, and to foster effective cooperation between EuroMediterranean partners. More importantly, responsible ministers always contemplated a future regional Action Plan, which would serve as a “roadmap” to match policy choices agreed by the 43 governments with major operational plans. This includes the implementation of selected projects through governments, local and regional authorities, international financing institutions and stakeholder organizations. The UfM Secretariat continues to advance the specific mandate of the Jordan Declara tion to strengthen cooperation in the fields of IWRM and Water Supply and Sanita tion and, to implement effective national and local IWRM plans based on realistic financing strategies. In the absence of an Action Plan, the UfM’s own encouragement of IWRM and sustainable development of water resources is currently advanced through collaborative initiatives. For example, the UfM Secretariat has wel comed the “Report on Local Water Man agement in the Mediterranean” [see p. 70] adopted by Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) in January 2011, which calls on the UfM to prepare a list of existing national and sub-national legislation on water-related issues, empha sizing the main features, experiences of its application and future trends. The Secretariat has initiated the assess ment of water legislation in all of the coastal Mediterranean states. The UfM-ARLEM ini
tiative on water legislation parallels global efforts by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization through its development of FAOLEX, a computerized legislative data base on food, agriculture and renewable natural resources. These regionally oriented assessments of national legislation should also complement and create more synergies with a specific activity of legal, institutional and policy assessments of Mediterranean states led by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme under the “Management of Coastal Aquifers and Groundwater” com ponent, as part of the Global Environment Fund UNEP/MAP Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean Sea Large Marine Eco system (MedPartnership). The various international and regional actors need to work together more closely to avoid duplication and ensure objectives of good governance are achieved. More engagement and focus is required to develop capacity for the enforcement of water and other environ mental legislation such as the Legal Pros ecutors Networks Against Marine Pollution, which has been supported by the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration. How ever, around the Mediterranean few initiatives exist on developing enforcement capacity on water legislation that is so critical for the suc cess of other governance measures. Fuad Bateh is a senior advisor at the Union for the Mediterranean Environment & Water Division.
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Securing a Water Future According to Lebanese environmental expert Najib Saab, water scarcity is the most pressing problem in the domain of water in the Mediterranean region, especially in the countries on the southern shore. “West Asia and North Africa (WANA) already face a water crisis, they need alternative and new sources of water. Natural freshwater resources will not suffice, no matter how efficient their use and management,” says Saab. He believes that improving efficiency rates, especially in agri culture, can help ease the pressure on dwindling sources in the region. “Eighty percent of water in the region is used in agri culture, and agricultural water-use efficiency hovers around 30 percent. There is great room for improvement. Continued research on traditional, alternative and drought-resistant crops should not be neglected.” But maximizing efficiency in agricultural, industrial and domes tic uses will not suffice. The reuse and recycling of treated wastewater is crucial. “Roughly 40 percent of sewage is not or only partially treated, and only 20 percent of treated water actually flows back into the system for use.”
“Even with improved infrastructure and irrigation schemes, and even with an increase in wastewater treatment and use, the region must invest in desalination. The problem with desalina tion right now is that Arab countries produce more than half the world’s desalinated water. But they depend entirely on imported technologies, machinery and spare parts.” In sum, WANA needs to secure its water future: “We need investment in research and development, in order to localize (not nationalize) the sharing and acquisition of local knowhow, the production of spare parts and machinery – all this increases local capacity to develop new technologies.” Najib Saab is the editor-in-chief of Environment and Development, a pan-Arab magazine on sustainable development. He is also secretary general of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development.
Read the full interview : www.revolve-magazine.com
Towards a Mediterranean Water Policy “The EU Water Framework Directive tends to forget that South ern Europe is part of the Mediterranean region and shares many of its characteristics and challenges,” says Spanish anthropologist Gaspar Mairal. “A comprehensive European water policy should therefore reflect the Mediterranean condi tions in some way.” Mairal identifies four key challenges to the creation of a Mediter ranean water policy: “scarcity, drought, distribution and equity”. He argues that in order for any Mediterranean water policy to be valid, these issues need to be addressed on a regional, trans national level. “Solutions should be based on the principles of human rights and democracy,” he adds. “Water scarcity has always been a characteristic of the Mediter ranean region. However, today it is not always a purely natural
phenomenon, but a consequence of inappropriate management and distribution. Similarly, drought has long been recognized as a structural and recurrent feature of the Mediterranean climate. It can and should therefore be addressed and anticipated through long-term management strategies.” Regarding distribution and equity, Mairal says the following: “On a technical level, regular water distribution depends on solid, upto-date infrastructure. However, on a governance level certain social, regional and international requirements should be met in order to ensure just and equitable distribution for all populations.” Gaspar Mairal is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Zaragoza in Spain.
Tripoli, Lebanon. Source: George Haddad 81
ressources en eau non conventionnelles konvansiyonel olmayan su kaynakları ΜΗ ΣΥΜΒΑΤΙΚΟΙ ΠΟΡΟΙ ΥΔΑΤΩΝ fuentes de agua no convencional nekonvencionalni izvori vode
non-conventional sources of water
Non-conventional sources of water can complement water supply, especially in water-scarce regions. They include desalinated brackish or saltwater and Treated urban or industrial wastewaters. In the Mediterranean, the production of desalinated water from seawater totaled 10Mm3/day in 2010. Spain, with a production of 2.5Mm3/day is the largest producer of desalinated water in the region and the 4th producer worldwide. Other key Mediterranean producers of desalinated water include Algeria, Israel and Libya. Desalination accounts for an estimated 60% of drinking water supply in Malta. The production of 1m3 of desalinated water costs €0.4-0.6. Desalination remains an energy intensive technique, requiring 3-3.5 kWh/m3 as opposed to the less energy intensive production of treated wastewater for reuse (1 kWh/m3). Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Spain are among the Mediterranean countries exploring the use of solar and wind energy to power desalination plants. By 2030 the Mediterranean region may triple or quadruple its desalination production to 30 to 40Mm3/day. The use of treated wastewater is becoming more widespread in the Mediterranean region though no comprehensive quantitative data exist. Treated wastewater is used in agriculture, parks and recreational areas. Israel reuses around 280Mm³ or 83% of its treated wastewater per year. Jordan reuses 85% of its treated wastewater and Tunisia 20-30%. The treated wastewater reuse rate is high in Cyprus (100%) and Malta (+/-60%). Greece, Italy and Spain only use 5-12% of their treated wastewater. The main problem related with wastewater reuse is the threat to public health, soil and water if treatment is not carried out properly.
Source: UNEP/MAP-Plan Bleu, EUWI Med, FAO, GWP Med, Lattemann S. & T. Höpner (2008), World Bank
How Desalination Works Writer: Jan C. Schippers
While desalination is heralded as the solution to growing water demand in arid areas, few understand the complex processes and technology required for the production of this non-conventional source of water. Here is how desalination works:
The purpose of desalination is to remove salt from saline water. It is applied for desalinating seawater and brackish water. Two techniques – distillation and reverse osmosis – currently dominate the market. Distillation is applied for seawater desali nation, while reverse osmosis is used for both brackish water and seawater. The largest seawater distillation plant is our planet. Enormous quantities of sea water are evaporated through the heat of the sun, leaving behind the salt water in the oceans. The vapor that is produced condenses and precipitates as “distilled” water, mainly in the form of saltless rain and snow. This process provides our planet with more than enough water overall. However, rain and snowfall are unevenly distributed, as are populations and water demand. As a result certain regions, such as the Middle East and North Africa, are increasingly prone to water scarcity.
Distillation Large-scale distillation was first put into practice in the 1970s in the Middle East. Distillation uses heat to evaporate the seawater. This heat is supplied by steam, which is generated in a steam boiler, heated with oil, coal or gas.
The vapor generated from the heating of sea water is cooled and condensed to form distil late, which contains no salt. The by-product of the distillation process is brine, which con tains a concentrate of the extracted salt. This solution is returned to the sea. Evaporation of water requires considerable amounts of energy, mostly generated from oil, coal or natural gas. In a bid to increase energy efficiency, the heat that is released when the vapor condenses is reused. In this way one ton of steam can produce 10 to 15 tons of water. Nonetheless, the distillation process requires large amounts of energy. Distillation is often carried out in combina tion with power generation as power plants generate electricity in turbines with steam. This steam – produced in steam boilers – has a very high pressure and tempera ture. Inside the turbine, this energy is first transformed into rotation energy and sub sequently into electricity in a generator. At the same time, the steam in the turbine gradually loses its energy, leaving it with a low energy value at the end of the process. This low-value steam is however still suit able for the seawater distillation process. Two distillation techniques are in use: Multi Stage Flash (MSF) currently domi nates the market, but is losing ground to Multi Effect Distillation (MED), which is more energy efficient.
A view across a reverse osmosis desalination plant. Source: Jamel Grellier
membrane elements form the core of the advances in reverse osmosis desalina process. Spiral-wound elements, which are tion – of brackish water, but most of all of The second desalination technology is made of flat sheets, dominate the market. seawater – mean that membrane perfor reverse osmosis, which uses membranes These elements are placed in vessels where mance has improved gradually. The result and pressure to reverse the principle of high pressure is applied to overcome the is higher-quality desalinated water, lower energy requirements due to the osmotic pressure and force the osmosis. Membranes are thin sheets that fact that less pressure is required water through the narrow pores. The can be made of organic polymers with and reduced membrane replace narrow pores. The applied membranes are The remaining concentrate con largest ment cost. semi-permeable, which means that water tains considerable amounts of energy in the form of pressure. seawater In addition, high-pressure pumps can pass through them, but salt cannot. Considerable pressure is required to force This energy is recovered using a distillation and turbines have become more the water through the membrane and to turbine or a pressure exchanger. efficient, further reducing energy overcome the osmotic pressure. Seawater Reverse osmosis is rapidly tak plant is consumption, which is particularly has an osmotic pressure of about 30 bar, ing over from distillation since our planet. important for seawater reverse which means pressures of over 30 bar need it is less energy intensive and osmosis. The successful introduc to be applied using electric pumps. requires a lower initial investment. Today, tion of a remarkable invention in the form of a pressure exchanger has cut energy con During reverse osmosis, the seawater is new desalination projects that are devel oped outside the Middle East almost exclu sumption even further. This device directly split in two streams: the product, with a low transfers the pressure of the concentrate to sively use reverse osmosis. salt concentration, and the concentrate or the water that has to be treated, acting as a brine, with high salinity levels, which is most Desalination technologies have improved very efficient high-pressure pump. commonly discharged into the sea. The greatly over the last 20 years. Major Twenty years ago the production of one cubic meter of desalinated seawater through reverse osmosis represented an How reverse osmosis works energy consumption of 5 kWh or more. Today, the energy requirement has dropped Semi-permeable Membrane to values of 3 kWh to 3.5 kWh. However, Applied pressure Salt water Water together with initial investment costs, energy remains the main cost expenditure within the desalination process.
Osmotic Pressure Head
Jan C. Schippers is a professor emeritus of Water Supply Technology at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, and a technical representative at the Middle East Desalination Research Center in Oman. He also teaches short courses on membrane technology and works as a private consultant.
Q&A: Source: MEDRC
Ronald Mollinger, MEDRC Revolve speaks to the Middle East Desalination Research Center director to discuss the importance of stimulating cooperation and innovation in the domain of water technology in the most water-scarce region in the world.
Could you give a brief background about the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC)? MEDRC was established 1997 in the framework of the Middle East Peace Process as part of the multilateral track. It is an intergovernmental organization with 10 members: Israel, the Palestine National Authority, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, South Korea and Japan. The center is located in Muscat, Oman, with the Omani government holding the chairmanship since 1997. The center’s executive council is made up of government representatives from each member country, who are each assisted by technical advisors from their country. This reflects the dual character of the organization: on the one hand technical, on the other hand political. The objective of the organization is to ensure the availability of affordable, accessible, clean water for the growing population of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the most arid region in the world. We do this by stimulating research and capacity building projects in the field of desalination and wastewater
Gaza. The plan is to fuel this plant with reuse technology and by encouraging concentrated solar power in order to give international cooperation between the Palestinians a degree of autonomy in countries in the domain of water. We the domain of energy provision. firmly believe that water is an item for “Every country The expansion of this plant is cooperation, not aspires to water part of the Palestinian Water conflict. Authority’s (PWA) broader water MEDRC has established specific activities for the core parties of the Middle East Peace Process – Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – with a particular focus on the PA.
sovereignty: whether it is in Europe, the Americas or the Middle East and North Africa, no country wants to be dependent on its neighbors for such an essential resource.”
How does MEDRC finance its activities? Members – with the exception of Jordan and the PA – pay a €2.3m joining fee, and various countries such as Oman, the United States, Japan and South Korea have made additional contributions. We are currently discussing membership with Germany and France, and the possibility of substituting part of the joining fee with the financing of a project or program. We have asked the Agence Française de Développement to fund the expansion of the only existing reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in
management plan for Gaza, as the plant will also serve as a training space for the future staff of the planned large-scale desalination facility that was endorsed by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) last year. [See p. 87] MEDRC is ready to train engineers, planners, operational and maintenance staff who will be involved in the running of this new facility.
MEDRC is also seeking rapprochement to the UfM in other domains: we believe that we can have a bridging role between the Gulf states and the UfM by identifying and encouraging joint research and capacity building projects and seeking funding for water projects in Mediterranean countries. MEDRC’s mandate is closely linked to the Middle East Peace Process. How can water contribute to peace and stability in the region? It is interesting to examine why regional cooperation over water has always continued, while it failed in so many other
domains. I believe the reason for this is that all parties have a strong common interest in water. The Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians share the same aquifers, the same climate, the same geology – this automatically implies that they have the same interests. If Gaza’s groundwater and coastal waters are polluted, Israel also suffers the consequences. This is why it is in everyone’s interest to cooperate. Could you elaborate on MEDRC’s activities in the domain of capacity building? Since its establishment, MEDRC has facilitated a variety of training programs and courses throughout the MENA region for approximately 2,000 participants. Since two years MEDRC organizes regular desalination and wastewater reuse training courses in Israel for Jordanian and Palestinian water experts from Gaza and the West Bank. The courses are taught by leading Israeli consultants. The course on wastewater reuse is particularly interesting because it focuses on aquifer recharge and looks at how treated wastewater can be reintroduced into the groundwater in order to stop seawater intrusion. This technique, which was developed in Israel and is used at the treatment plant in Shafdan near Tel Aviv, will also be used at the wastewater treatment plant that is being built in the north of Gaza. This once again underscores the shared nature of the resources and the need to cooperate. In addition to training courses on location, MEDRC is currently in the process of establishing its own training institute in Oman, which will be operational by the end of 2012. The institute will provide certified courses for professionals with a theoretical and practical component. This will be a first in the MENA region, as participants will be able to gain hands-on experience at MEDRC’s own facility. What about MEDRC’s support for research projects? In the domain of research MEDRC has provided financial support to 76 joint multinational projects in an effort to encourage cooperation between research institutions from the MENA region and
institutions in the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan. One of the additional aims of these projects is to involve MSc and PhD students in the research activities. As with our other activities, we are currently concentrating on research projects in Palestine. We are involved in a project at An Najah University in Nablus for the development of a small solar-powered reverse osmosis plant for the desalination of brackish water. It is a pilot project that produces low-cost drinking water for some 200 families in a Jordan Valley village. Are there prospects for reducing the heavy environmental impact of desalination and the high energy consumption? Energy remains the most expensive part of desalination, even if enormous progress has been made in the domain of energy efficiency over the past 10 years. As the quality of equipment and processes improves, experts believe energy consumption can be further reduced in the future.
“We firmly believe that water is an item for cooperation, not conflict.” With regards to the environmental impact, this is an issue that has to be carefully examined on a case-by-case basis. A detailed environmental impact study needs to be carried out on each site to determine where brine can be discharged without harming the marine environment or affecting fish stocks. The brine also needs to be treated before it is discharged, in order to remove certain harmful chemicals that are introduced during the desalination process. In the past there was little awareness of the impact of the brine on local reefs for instance, but today there is a much more environmentally sensitive approach.
To what extent is the use of renewable energy an option in the context of desalination? MEDRC hopes to contribute to the development of a pilot desalination plant in Oman that will be powered by a combination of solar, wind and electric power. The aim is to see whether using different energy sources in a complementary manner is cost-effective. If this is the case, then we could replicate such a model in the whole MENA region. How important is the reuse of treated wastewater for the future? The reuse of treated wastewater is another key source of non-conventional water. The technology is closely related to desalination, though it is easier and cheaper to treat wastewater than seawater: it requires less energy and fewer chemicals. The problem with treated wastewater is that in many countries there are still socio-cultural reservations about its use for human consumption and in agriculture. In Israel, 90 percent of treated wastewater is reused, and in Palestine people have no problems with the concept. In the Gulf states, however, there is still much greater resistance to the idea of using it for agriculture. How do you see the future of water in the MENA region? By 2050 water demand will increase by 50 percent in the Middle East and North Africa region. Population growth, economic growth and climate change will place ever more pressure on the scarce water resources. As conventional water resources dwindle, desalination and reuse will become increasingly indispensable. Every country aspires to water sovereignty: whether it is in Europe, the Americas or the Middle East and North Africa, no country wants to be dependent on its neighbors for such an essential resource. MEDRC aims to help countries to build their institutions and secure their current and future water requirements.
Drinking the Sea at Gaza The first Union for the Mediterranean-endorsed project for the construction of a major desalination plant in the Gaza Strip will have significant humanitarian, environmental and political impacts in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean have unanimously lent their support to an ambitious project to build a large-scale desalination facility for the Gaza Strip. The €350m Gaza Desalination Project, which would be the largest infra structure project to date in the Gaza Strip, will be the single most important interven tion by the global community in addressing Gaza’s worsening water crisis. “While it is not a regional or even subregional project, it has far-reaching regional implications,” says Rafiq Husseini, the deputy secretary general of the UfM Environment & Water Division. “Everyone is aware of the project’s humanitarian, developmental and political importance.” Palestine is the most water-scarce area in the Mediterranean, and the Gaza Strip spe cifically has experienced the most signifi cant degradation in freshwater resources [See p. 53]. The only source of water for the population of 1.6 million inhabitants is the Coastal Aquifer, which runs along the Mediterranean coast and is shared with Israel and Egypt. The shallow aquifer has an approximate sustainable yield of 55Mm3 per year, yet current abstraction rates are more than three times as high at around 170Mm3 per year. As a result of decades of heavy over-pump ing, seawater seeps into Gaza’s groundwa ter, making it unfit for consumption. In addi tion, the absence of adequate wastewater treatment facilities means that untreated domestic and agricultural wastewater is released into the environment, further affecting the aquifer’s water quality and polluting Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline.
“Public health in Gaza is under grave threat,” says Rebhi al-Sheikh, deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA). “More than 90 percent of the water distrib uted for domestic purposes in Gaza is far below international standards.” Based on a PWA proposal that was submitted to the UfM in May 2011, the €350m Gaza Desalination Project will be the single largest intervention to address the 100+Mm3 deficit in freshwater supply, securing domestic water supply at WHO minimums for the current population. The project also includes the construction of a north-south carrier to distribute the desali nated water throughout Gaza. The desalination facility is part of a broader PWA water and wastewater man agement plan, which includes the con struction of several wastewater treatment plants, the rehabilitation of the distribu tion network, and also a European Unionfunded small-scale desalination facility for humanitarian assistance until the UfM project is operational. The project will not only help address the deteriorating water situation in the Gaza Strip, but also forms a first step towards regenerating the Coastal Aquifer – an important regional source of water.
construction phase, as well as permanent positions once the facility is operational. Working in close cooperation with the PWA, the UfM Secretariat is currently seeking funding for the project among Arab and European donors, based on pledges made during the Sharm el-Sheikh Conference on the Reconstruction of Gaza in 2009. In parallel to securing core funding for the project, a 2003 feasibility study for a desali nation plant in Gaza will be updated with funding support from the Facility for EuroMediterranean Investment and Partner ship and in cooperation with the European Investment Bank, the PWA and the UfM Secretariat. The United Nations Environ mental Programme has also provided con sultation and offered further technical sup port to contribute to the overall project. The update of the feasibility study is scheduled to kick off in the summer of 2012. Construction work on the desalination plant, which will be built on a 30,000m2 coastal site in southern Gaza, is scheduled to start in 2013 for a period of up to three years before initial operation.
Project backers believe the construction of a desalination plant will also help remove water from the complex web of issues facing the Gaza Strip, thus contributing to greater political stability in the region. In addition, as the largest single infrastruc tural project in Gaza to date, the project could create many new jobs during the
For more information : www.ufmsecretariat.org/en
The WaterEnergy Nexus in the Mediterranean Sprinkler irrigation. Hama, Syria. Source: Adel Samara
Writer: François Guerber
Increasing the efficiency of water and energy use is of key importance in the Mediterranean region, as demand for both grows and the impact of climate change becomes more visible. Water and energy have always been inextricably linked, whether in domestic use, agriculture and irrigation, or in urban centers where energy consumption is con siderable. Today, we face the challenge of improving water management and reduc ing energy consumption to make our cit ies more sustainable. Energy production is also a highly water-intensive activity, where more efficient methods need to be explored. The relationship between water and energy is particularly relevant in the arid Mediterranean region.
Reinforcing links between water and energy Water is a natural source of energy of par ticular importance because it is mobilized during peak hours. Nevertheless all water use requires energy: • Irrigated agriculture is the main water consumer in the Mediterranean region, using 180 km3/year or approximately 6 million one-liter bottles of water per sec ond. Energy requirements are also high,
as water needs to be transported to the fields and spread over large areas. • Industrial production requires cooling, consuming significant amounts of water, particularly in the energy production industries, which consume 38 km3/year in the Mediterranean region. • Urban water supply and sewage: domestic needs and economic activities connected to the public water networks consume 38 km3/year in the Mediterranean region. • Industrial production: activities such as paper manufacturing and types of food production (breweries, sugar plants e.g.) consume more water than others. • Hydropower production: significant amounts of water are derived from the river towards turbines, either within the river on the dam site or further removed in channels or pressure mains. Hydropower can in cer tain instances have far-reaching effects on aquatic life and river morphology, forcing authorities to impose a limit to electricity production.
water uses and the same geographical area will rise from 20 TWh/year in 2005 to 200 TWh/year in 2025. Traditional sources of energy are getting scarcer. As the impact of climate change becomes evident and efforts are made to minimize greenhouse effects, the nature of energy production will fundamentally change. Energy produced from fossil sources like coal and oil will decrease, while renewable and nuclear energy will develop considerably in the future. The for mer consumes very little water, but the lat ter consumes significant amounts of water for cooling. The overall result is definitely increased energy costs.
The connection between water and energy activities has developed congruently, creating a deep interdependence. Water consumption is increasing, creating pressure on water resources and leading to ever-higher energy consumption. Water and energy consumption are increasing propor tionally as population increases and living standards rise. Moreover, climate change will lead to an increase in water demand during the summer season when water resources will be at their lowest. These two factors lead to the overexploitation of water resources, but also to an increase in energy consumption as water needs to be brought from further away (deeper in the aquifers or from more distant surface water sources or reservoirs) or treated more intensively (desalination e.g.). Plan Bleu, UNEP’s regional center, has shown that demand for water (domestic, industrial and irrigation only) in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries will rise from 150 km3/year in 2005 to 200 km3/year in 2025, while demand for electricity for the same
Future water-energy scenarios in the Medi terranean are worrying. The future is uncer tain because energy price hypotheses vary widely and because the impact of climate change on local water resources is not yet known. The “underlying rate” scenario – no changes in water and energy policies – leads to a global deadlock and consequently to catastrophic situations in some parts of the Mediterranean region. There is no other choice than an “adaptation” scenario – anticipation and proactive actions in both the water and energy sectors – as a collective duty at regional, national and local levels.
The following actions could help confront the water-energy challenge: 1) Define and respect the water needs of aquatic bodies: The EU Water Framework Directive specifies volumes for environ mental needs (minimum water flows even if they reduce hydroelectric production), in addition to the requirements of different sectors. Lessons learned show that such environmental water volumes are a prof itable priority rather than a money-losing constraint, reducing investment costs for new water infrastructures as well as help ing climate change adaptation. 2) Implement and apply Integrated Water Resources Management planning, includ ing the right compromise with other public policies: such plans exist in almost every country but have to be negotiated so as to be coherent with other public policies such as renewable energy, agriculture, hous
ing and land use. For example, in France the apparent contradictions between the two European directives (water framework and renewable energy) were circumvented through a 2010 agreement between the hydroelectricity producers and the state administration. 3) Anticipate and adapt to climate change: actions that will help adapt to climate change must be conceived globally, then introduced in all existing public policies mentioned above in 2) regardless of future water resources or energy costs. 4) Review investment decisions within the future energy context and prices: water users will have more and more self-interest in monitoring their energy costs in order to reduce the bill. Most municipalities and water services regularly update their energy contracts to take advantage of the tariffs and competition between energy suppli ers, even if it is not the case where water and energy services are not within a com petitive market. But now the challenge is to base investment decisions for long-life water infrastructures on new technologies and economic analysis anticipating future energy costs or future water resources shortage: pumps and mains are dimen sioned by optimizing the total cost of pipes and energy on the lifespan of the project; urban wastewater treatment plants cancel out their energy consumption. The Mediterranean region must urgently take political action to avoid a catastrophic scenario: every delay makes solutions more difficult to implement. The Union for the Mediterranean made an important step in 2010 by producing a draft water strat egy [see p. 79] that addresses the actions described above. However, for political reasons, the strategy has not yet been approved officially. It is therefore of key importance that a strategy be approved as soon as possible in order to let the mem ber states develop concrete action plans, explain and apply the draft orientations at ministerial level and in other spheres, so that effective water-energy-nexus policies and projects can be developed, financed and implemented. François Guerber is a senior advisor at the Union for the Mediterranean Environment & Water Division.
So Blue So Blue Photographerâ€‰: Ad van Denderen Documentary photographer Ad van Denderen traveled around the Mediterranean from 2003 to 2008, exploring the political, cultural and religious diversity of this region where Africa, Asia and Europe, Christianity and Islam, rich and poor all come together. His project 'So Blue So Blue' reflects among others on the region's booming tourism industry and its impact on natural resources. 90
(Left page) The southernmost tip of Gibraltar. (Top) Medicinal mud baths, Dalyan, Turkey. (Bottom) En route to the Côte d’Azur, near Montelimar, France.
(Top) New 18-hole golf course, Benidorm, Spain. (Bottom) The beach in Alexandria, Egypt.
(Top) Hotel swimming pool, Split, Croatia. (Bottom) Hotel Hasdrubal on the Tunisian island of Djerba is owned by a Saudi businessman.
(Top) The tourism industry has blossomed since the fall of the Iron Curtain, DurrĂŤs, Albania. (Bottom) Lying on the beach in Gaza, Palestine.
in association with
Institutional Partners The Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) is an institution shared by the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean, with a mandate to promote intercultural dialogue and exchange between people from diverse cultural and social backgrounds. The Foundation has developed the largest network of civil society involved in intercultural actions across the Mediterranean, bringing together more than 4,000 actors. In 2007-08, ALF launched the campaign “Water, Our Common Future”, which included the Euro-Med Big Jump and the Turin Water & Dialogue Youth Forum. The Arab Water Council is a not-for-profit regional civil society organization that promotes better understanding and management of water resources in the Arab States in a multidisciplinary, non-political, professional and scientific manner. The organization aims to disseminate knowledge and enhance the sharing of experience and information in order to promote the rational and comprehensive water resources development. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) is the premier environmental education and research program in the Middle East, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges. Casa Mediterráneo is a public consortium promoted by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, with the collaboration of the Generalitat Valenciana (Valencian Regional Government) and the city councils of Alicante, Benidorm and Xàbia, with the aim of strengthening relations between Spain and the Mediterranean countries by fostering public diplomacy. EMWIS is the main regional cooperation tool in the inland water sector between the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean. The system is based on a strong commitment from the water directors of the member countries. Today, 22 partner countries have created a national focal point to collect, certify and disseminate information on better water management in their country and in the Mediterranean region. In the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan, Plan Bleu is entrusted with producing information and knowledge in order to alert decision-makers and stakeholders to environmental risks and sustainable development issues in the Mediterranean, and to shape future scenarios to guide decision-making processes. It works in partnership with the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration and the Union for the Mediterranean.
A special report by Revolve on WATER in association with the Union for the Mediterranean.