On the geopolitics of water scarcity in the Middle East

Jordan River Basin

The Jordan River basin is the focus area of Waternet. In this section, we look more closely into policy making and problems of shared water resources in IsraŽl, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. References will be found to articles, policy documents, links to other web sites, and background information on water conflicts.


The Jordan River basin is shared by 5 different countries: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel. As a resource for freshwater it is vital for most of the population of Palestine, Israel and Jordan, and in a lesser extend for Lebanon and Syria.
Sharing this resource involves the issue of water use, water rights, and (re)distribution of amounts.

Since water is a scarce resource to every country in the region, access to enough water to meet the demands of households and economic sectors is a main concern for all governments involved. The demand for water is rising, due to population growth and economic development. Pressure on the natural resources is high, and Israel, Jordan and Palestine are already facing a situation where water consumption is close to or exeeding the renewable amount available. Next to the natural resources, alternatives are limited: water saving measures, water recycling or desalination work on the sort term, but seem to fail to fill the expected gap on the long run. Nevertheless, solutions must be found to meet future demands.

Every government is taking measures to satify their country's water needs as much as possible, but since the Jordan River is shared by different countries, situations occur that the same cubic metre is claimed for consumption by different countries, too, which is not always possible to realise. Water that is used upstream for drinking can hardly reclaimed for the same purpose, and even storing water for later release causes undesidered effects in downstream states. In combination with existing regional tensions, which are part of the Israeli-Arab conflict, competition over scarce water resources leads to international political and security consequences. For access to water not only touches state sovereignty and integrity, but also issues related to ideology and nationalism.

[to be elaborated - under construction]