How water cooperation can provide geopolitical stability in MENA | Climate Crisis News

In the coming years, it is expected that water will become a more important geopolitical resource than crude oil with demand expected to increase by more than 50% by 2030.

As climate change and higher consumption deplete already scarce water supplies, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, the risk of conflict over this vital resource also increases.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) hopes to avoid this and provide water security through Green peace strategypromote the sustainability of water as an asset to political and social peace.

Blue Peace has noted that access to water has been a cause of conflict and migration in the region before, with wars over water throughout history. Continued political tension between Egypt and Ethiopia on the Great Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia is a recent example.

In Lebanon, water scarcity due to persistent financial deterioration and poorly managed water systems has caused a range of sanitation problems, especially for refugees.

“Water has also been weaponized in recent times, despite the fact that access to adequate water and sanitation is a human right: In 2017 alone, water was a major contributor to conflicts. Open in at least 45 countries, including Syria, also led to direct attacks. on water infrastructure,” SDC senior water policy adviser for Blue Peace André Wehrli told Al Jazeera.

“Greenpeace aims to promote systematic water cooperation across borders, sectors and generations to promote peace, stability and sustainable development, thereby contributing to enhanced water security, food and energy, as well as sustainable ecosystem services in a changing climate”.

Greenpeace is currently active in Central Asia, West Africa and the Middle East, where it has carried out programs for more than a decade in Lebanon, Syria, IraqMorocco, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and others.

“In fact, Green Peace is enhanced when different stakeholders come together to make equitable decisions and invest in shared water resources to promote peace, underpin sustainable development and vice versa,” Wehrli said.

Greenpeace highlighted different methods to prevent or reduce stress on shared water resources, including political-diplomatic dialogue, exchange and technical assistance, financial instruments, capacity building power and raise awareness, he added.

Drilling a well within the framework of the Greenpeace project in Iraq
Well drilling is part of the Greenpeace project in Iraq [Courtesy: Blue Peace]

SDC has asked countries for assistance in managing their water resources more effectively and reducing tensions between different users, such as private consumers, the energy sector and infrastructure. agricultural floor.

As of 2019, a regional management committee composed of experts from Iraq, JordanLebanon, Turkey and SDC members, have overseen the program, with coordinating support from the Turkish Water Institute SUEN until the end of 2022.

From 2019 to 2022, more than $4 million has been allocated to MENA projects.

“The Middle East is one of the water-scarce regions of the world, with water availability including rainfall and other sources less than 1,000 cubic meters per year,” Wehrli said. “80% of available water resources in the region are used for irrigation, however, to a large extent, efficiency and effectiveness are low with a very limited contribution to GDP.”

Other water-related problems in the region include desertification, he noted. “Dealers are overusing water resources with 70% of desalination plants located in MENA, mainly found in Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait.”

Attempts to establish a baseline

In Lebanon in 2015, Blue Peace began establishing baselines for the Orontes Basin, assessing water resource use, and building on existing networks of academia, civil society, and public institutions. yes, in cooperation with the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) and Litani Jurisdiction.

Greenpeace Middle East in the current period has been working to establish scientific baselines that can serve as common ground for negotiationssuch as in the Yarmouk River that flows through Jordan, Syria and Israel.

Its capacity-building programs include the establishment of the Center for Water Diplomacy at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, the organization of training seminars and workshops for water and environmental stakeholders in the region. area.

New innovative and adaptive particulate filtration system has been used as a natural gray water treatment system, saving 33% of fresh water consumption and 35% of monthly water bills for water users processed gray.

The support of water startups with their CEWAS partner continues and the next phase will begin in 2023.

Six restored water monitoring stations are under construction, with the aim of further promoting the Iraq-Turkey dialogue regarding the Tigris River, which flows through both countries. Four measuring stations are being renovated by Blue Peace along the Tigris River to help collect accurate water data to better inform water sharing between the two countries.

“We plan to further strengthen the regional mechanism with the potential result of increased ownership in the region as a region-owned Greenpeace mechanism promoting cross-border water cooperation,” Wehrli said. systematic in the Middle East”. “This could also include increasing the number of members of the regional mechanism to include additional countries.”

By 2025, Blue Peace estimates the region’s renewable freshwater supply will fall to less than a third of what it was in the 1970s.

Therefore, sustainable water use is important, and the exchange of data between countries that share a common water source very important for effective management. With Blue Peace aid, countries can help prevent water scarcity by working together.

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