Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Chapter 27: Environment and society in the Middle East: conflicts over water
Steve Lonergan INTRODUCTION The scarcity of fresh water will be one of the key resource issues of the next century in many regions of the world. Already, water availability is severely limited in some of these regions and this condition will be exacerbated as population grows. It is anticipated that between 44 per cent and 65 per cent of the world’s population will experience conditions of water scarcity or water stress by the middle of the next century, according to the United Nations (UN, 1994). Figure 27.1 provides an indication of countries which will be experiencing water stress or water scarcity by the year 2050, according to a medium population projection from the UN (ibid.). As indicated in the figure, nowhere is this problem more acute than in the Middle East. The region contains three international rivers which have been the source of conflict in the past and which are crucial to the economic development of many countries. Of particular concern are the Nile, with nine riparian states and the most downstream country (Egypt) which is almost entirely dependent on the flow of the river for its economic development; the Euphrates, which has been the subject of recent controversy as Turkey develops its Southeast Anatolia Project, which has already reduced the flow of the river to downstream riparians Syria and Iraq; and the Jordan, which has been a long-standing source of conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours. The most publicized of these disputes over water in the region has...
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