Hydro-Peace in the Middle East: Why no Water Wars?: A Case Study of the Jordan River Basin

J. A. (John Anthony) Allan
2002 SAIS Review  
The Middle East is very poorly endowed with freshwater: the region ran out of water resources to meet its strategic needs-for domestic and industrial use as well as for food production-in 1970. Despite depleted water resources and growing water demand pushed by population growth, international relations over water have, if anything, become less tense since 1970. The reason is that water has been available on the international market in the form of "virtual water." Indeed, economies that can
more » ... nomies that can import grain avoid having to mobilize scarce freshwater from their own resource base to produce wheat themselves. By the year 2000, the Middle East and North Africa were importing fifty million tons of grain annually, satisfying the largest demand for water in the region-food production. The remaining 10 percent of water demand for drinking, domestic, and industrial use may soon be met through low-cost desalinated seawater. The global political economy of water use and trade has had important impacts on the way water is perceived in the Middle East. But at the same time, the impact of the global system has been perverse in that the availability of virtual water has slowed the pace of reforms intended to improve water efficiency.
doi:10.1353/sais.2002.0027 fatcat:ajlt35z4t5arlkzrm6ctt5ovzu