Cross Border Water Resources

Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface. Most of it contains high concentrations of salt and is unusable to developing countries for consumption or irrigation purposes because desalination is too expensive. Consequently, when a water source like a major river originates in one country and flows into another, the shared water source could become an issue of national security. (For example, if one country dams or diverts a shared river for irrigation purposes, it could reduce the amount of water flowing downstream to the second country).

For this week’s discussion, think of the enduring disputes taking place between Jordan and Israel (Jordan controls the headwaters of the Jordan River as it flows into Israel); Turkey and Iraq (Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers before they enter Iraq); and between Ethiopia and Sudan and Egypt (Ethiopia controls the flow of the Nile River before it enters Sudan and Egypt). What concerns do these downriver countries (Israel, Iraq, and Egypt/Sudan) have over freshwater access?

Review the posts of your classmates and respond to at least one other post supporting the position.

Please see below for classmates post:

Water access and demand becomes a complex issue, especially in countries where natural water resources share political or jurisdictional boundaries. In such a case, the shared water resource could become a challenge and even national security issues as stakeholders compete to protect their rights within specific political boundaries. Choudhury and Islam (2015) explain that these problems often result from dynamic factors such as competition, interconnections, and the kind knowledge operating within political communities. Examples of countries dealing with international water boundaries and disputes include Jordan and Israel over river Jordan, Turkey and Iraq over the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over river Nile.

The Jordan basin is perhaps the most cited when it comes to international water resources and resultant disputes. The regional climate in the area is semi-dry with a constant natural scarcity, thus increasing demand and pressure on the available water resources. Given the politicized value of water in the Middle East, it has always been hard to ensure cooperation or policies that will guarantee jointed water management (Dohrmann & Hatem, 2014). The same case applies in rivers Tigris and Euphrates, which are often victims to irregular season flow given the climate of the area. Turkey maintains control of the rivers which act as their sole source of water, therefore, leading to disputes with nations such as Syria and Iraq as each nation intends to maximize their access to these natural water resources.

Downriver countries such as Israel, Iraq, and Egypt often depend on water originating from other countries, which means they have little control over the resources. For instance, in the case of Egypt and Sudan, Rive Nile acts as the primary source of fresh water, but there are disputes which upstream countries such as Ethiopia. Abdulrahman (2018) explains that 98% of the population of Egypt depends on the water from River Nile, and the country often engages in disputes with Ethiopia who has multiple water projects on the Nile River. Low lying countries are always dealing with issues of water shortage when there lack jointed water management agreements with upstream nations.


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