An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures
Edited by Asanga Gunawansa and Lovleen Bhullar
Chapter 7: Urban water challenges in the MENA region: integrating Islamic principles with demand management strategies
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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