Water Governance
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Water Governance

An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures

Edited by Asanga Gunawansa and Lovleen Bhullar

This insightful book explores urban water governance challenges in different parts of the world and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of publicly run, privatized, and public–private partnership managed water facilities.
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Chapter 7: Urban water challenges in the MENA region: integrating Islamic principles with demand management strategies

Arani Kajenthira and Sharmila Murthy


In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the arid landscape has resulted in water playing a dominant role in human activities, socio-economic interactions and in the shaping of institutions. From the standpoint of water availability, the MENA region can be loosely categorized into three regions: those that are hyper-arid, those that rely on transboundary surface water, and those that have a high degree of water variability across their territories. Regardless of which category they fall into, almost all of these countries have focused on increasing the supply of water through large-scale infrastructure projects. In fact, as a proportion of the total freshwater resources available, the MENA region has more dams than any other part of the world. Energy-rich states have also pioneered desalination technologies as a way to augment supply. The perceived water scarcity, along with other historical, religious and cultural influences, has historically led to supply-centered water management regimes that are highly centralized and authoritarian in nature. Although the MENA region is often recognized as a water-scarce region, and one that is likely to become more arid in the face of climate change, a focus solely on resource availability obscures larger water governance issues.

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