The Jordan River basin is an international water resource, shared by 5 riparians: Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
As in any other international river basin, this transboundary water body raises issues related to sharing. Key concerns for every government in this basin are access to water, water demand, actual water usage and water rights and (re)distribution among the riparians. In the case of the Jordan River, we are talking about a relatively limited amount of water naturally available and for each riparian this raises issues regarding the access to sufficient water to meet the demands of households, agriculture and industry, to sustain the growing population and expanding economies. This is especially the case for the inhabitants of Jordan, Palestine and Israel, where current consumption patterns are overstretching the yield of the natural water resources, and where environmental degradation and the impact of climate change are adding to the threat of their future sustainability. As there are currently few alternative water resources to tap into, water demand and withdrawal are reaching their limits - but demand is still growing.
Despite the common interest of the riparians to tackle the challenges of water scarcity, geopolitics impede a joint approach in this region that is marked by war and mistrust. Water resources are securitized, they became core issues of national security, state sovereignty and ideology, thus triggering or amplifying political and military tensions when ultimate state interests are at stake.
The real water crisis is a political crisis. It is a man-made problem, if not intentional it is often convenient to divert attention again from trickier issues of governance such as fairness, justice and transparency. Therefore, water policies based on the principles of power, ideology and so-called 'security' interests do not serve the interests of the population: they lead to bad water governance and to water insecurity.
- In this section of the Waternet website, we will especially focus on water resources in Palestine and Israel, and address the security and ideological issues that stand in the way of good water resources management. In the case of Palestine - East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - access to water, water demand, water usage and water rights are directly related to the military occupation. In Israel, ideology and security discourses turned management of water resources into a matter of absolute state security and identity, extremely difficult to disentangle.
Start here with a general introduction to the political hydrography of the Jordan River Basin.
- Additionally, in a number of Fact Sheets we will collect and present some data about water resources and water use in the Jordan River basin (and the surface water and groundwater resources in Israel and Palestine), and references to water policy in the region.
Also read: Article: Israeli water policy in a regional context of conflict