Water Resources and Conflict in the Middle East

By Nurit Kliot | Go to book overview

4

THE HELSINKI AND ILC RULES: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE FOR WATER DIVISION IN THE NILE, THE TIGRIS-EUPHRATES AND THE JORDAN-YARMUK-CONCLUDING REMARKS

This book has tried to examine the practicability of applying the Helsinki and ILC Rules to the process of water allocation of international rivers-in particular to the Nile, the Euphrates and the Jordan-Yarmuk river systems. Before we carefully examine the possible outcomes of such an application, some general features of these rivers and the populations whose livelihoods depend on the water of the rivers should be taken into account.

First, as a result of the combined forces of nature (in the form of consecutive droughts) and society (in the form of accelerated population growth rates), the water resources of the three rivers are becoming scarcer and thus more precious. As a result, the Jordan-Yarmuk, the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates (in that order) have reached a state of over-utilization and the quality of their water resources has deteriorated significantly.

Second, although scarcity of water has been strongly felt among all the coriparians of the three rivers, there is still a peculiarly large water wastage in all three-mainly as a result of wasteful irrigation methods, under-maintained water delivery systems and poor management. The human response to the required changes has been painfully slow in its accommodation to the new situation of reduced water supplies.

Third, in none of the three international river basins discussed in this book have the fluctuations in water supply over the last decade led to political and legal co-operation or to the adoption of more equitable water allocation. The few existing agreements for water allocation such as that for the Nile have not been based on equity for all the co-riparians and, in the Tigris-Euphrates and JordanYarmuk river basins, some co-riparians have over-extended their water usage at the expense of the other co-riparians. Finally, as a result of all the above processes, the chances for a 'water war' erupting in the Middle East are increasing, especially in the Jordan-Yarmuk basin where the great dependence of

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