International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999
Section 11: Hydrology-Related Issues
Water As A Means of Reconciliation in the Middle East
Mehmet Aydin & Sermet Onder
Dept. Soil Sci., Faculty of Agriculture, University of Mustafa
TR-31034, Antakya, Turkey
Fresh water, the key element for life, is a critical
resource in the Middle East. There is a conflict among the region's countries
because of scarcity and misuse of fresh-water. Scarcity is one element of the
crisis, inefficiency is another factor. In fact, water used in the agricultural
sector exceeds by ten times water used in the industrial and municipal sectors
combined. There has been a rapid population growth in the Middle East in recent
decades. This population boom has put an extreme pressure on the existing
limited and vulnerable water resources.
An integrated management of water resources including
technical, social and economic aspects is needed, since, unlike oil, water
cannot be easily exported from a water-surplus country to a water-deficit
country due to economic, political, environmental, psychological, ideological
and emotional reasons.
One of the most important aspects of land and water resource
development programs is to determine the inventory of the resources. The
resources and opportunities should be known accurately, and current supplies
and future supplies which will be available as a result of supply management
policies in terms of foreseeable water demands should be considered. However,
in the Middle East there is no scientific co-operation on the crucial
importance of demand management aiming at water use efficiency, equity, and
long-term water security. If nations of the region would share both water
technology and boundary resources, fresh-water could not drive them to war, and
it will not be a hindrance for peace.
In 1988, Turkey proposed a "peace pipeline" of water from
two Turkish rivers- the Ceyhan and Seyhan- that flow south into the
Mediterranean sea. The dual pipelines would deliver potable water to millions
in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab gulf states.
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