Middle East and North Africa Water Resources Consortium
and Technology Exchange Network
EMI, MENA Secretariat
Rabat - Morocco
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa region face similar problems
of water shortage due to
the semi-arid climate and an increasing demand created by population and
Development of water resources has been impeded by various reasons including
the lack of
technology and public awareness. The Arab-Israel war has also made co-operation
riparian countries difficult. With the peace movement in the Middle East
under way, water issues
take the center stage. Not only international water conflict needs to be
resolved as a part of the
peace process, but also co-operative water resources development should
immediately follow to
maintain a sustainable growth and prosperity. In view of the impending needs,
a regional water
resources consortium should be formed to provide training and technical
assistance, to promote
information and technology exchange, to provide expertise for arbitrating
water conflicts, to organize long term and regional planning, and to serve
as a center of excellence for relevant technologies in the region using
information technology support.
The objectives of the proposal is to initiate an organizing effort for a
water consortium addressing
water resources, quality, and economical issues in the Middle East and North
Africa Region. The
organization is intended to be a scientific body which serves as a consulting
arm for governments in
the region initiating national or international water conservation, environmental
management, and utilisation projects.
Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region are under severe
stress of water supply.
Not only is the quantity of renewable water per capita the lowest as compared
to other regions of
the world, but also the water quality is inferior, and often unacceptable.
The European Union, the
United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) and the World Bank have issued
and called for immediate action.
Since water issues often involve international co-operation, an unbiased
formed by water specialists in the region, and scientists from North America
and Europe, can
facilitate the co-ordination of studies and implementations of water projects.
The short term objectives of this proposal is to seek seed funding to support
an initial organization
effort. Among the immediate tasks include the establishment of a regional
water resources computer
on-line network, the convening of a workshop/conference, and the initiation
of an international co-
operative research project. The long term objectives will be decided in
a round table forum in the
workshop. This effort will help validating the concept and become a basis
for further joint projects.
The co-operation mechanism has been presented at a thematic session at the
Amman Summit, where the permanent status of the consortium has been discussed.
Technology provides opportunities for helping resolve some of these problems.
Information on existing technology and science, can be a basis for creating
co-operative actions amongst countries in the region.
Water Crisis in the Middle East and North Africa
The water situation in the Middle East and North Africa region is precarious.
development have overwhelmed traditional management practice. Water scarcity
is the most critical,
and pollution growth is as severe as the rest of the world. It is projected
that the per capita
renewable water supply will fall from 3,430 cubic meters in 1960, to 667
cubic meters in 2025. In
several countries of the region, renewable freshwater will barely cover
basic human needs within two decades.
Managing water resources and preserving water quality require international
efforts. Rivers and
aquifers cross national boundaries. More than 200 river basins are shared
by two or more countries.
These basins account for about 60% of the earth's land area. It is estimated
that about 40% of the
world population lives in watershed that is shared with neighboring countries.
issues also involve important groundwater resources. In a number of cases,
international boundaries; thus pumping by one country interferes with another
or stream flows. Assessing the effects on riparian countries of over pumping
in different areas of a
deep aquifer is difficult and requires international co-operation.
The crisis has existed for a number of years. To some extent, damage has
been done. The
consequence is a stunted economy and a wounded environment. Its environmental
include wide spread destruction of vegetation and natural habitats, erosion
of uplands and
watersheds, over-exploited and damaged aquifers, salinization of streams
desertification of semiarid areas, and in particular, depletion and pollution
of limited water
Acute shortage of water, if left unresolved, is bound to further exacerbate
tension and conflict. No
country in the region can resolve its water problem independently without
redistributing the resources of its neighbours. Therefore no comprehensive
water development can
take place without peace, or conversely, no peace is sustainable without
Preservation of the environment and resource base are essential for sustainable
protection, enhancement, and restoration of water quality and the abatement
of water pollution are
faced with many countries in the region. To meet the challenge, exchange
of technical ideas and
experiences among scientists in the Middle East and North Africa countries,
with the participation
of water specialists from developed countries, is of great importance for
Computer On-Line Water Resources Information System
Sharing of information is a first step toward international co-operation.
A regional water network
can not only serve as a repository for valuable water data and an access
for computer software, but
also provide a posting place for newest technology, a forum for exchange
information and expertise
Network information technology such as Internet is diffusing throughout
the world and transforming our ways of communicating and managing information.
This has influenced the way we teach, undertake research, disseminate knowledge,
conduct service activities, run professional organizations and interact
with colleagues. The availability of front ends such as Mosaic and Netscape
for browsing the Word Wide Web (WWW) has much enhanced the user-friendliness
and hence the efficiency of the Internet. For water resources information,
initiatives include WETnet, UWEB, USGS Water Information, MEWIN, UWIN, and
WaterTalk. In particular, ESIMEAU (INCO-DC) and MedCampus programme, both
recent European funded Projects, are themselves networks relating the South
and the North of the Mediterranean for information and technology exchange
within the region on water resources issues. WEB technology is amongst the
best information systems for connecting the partners involved.
It is our interest to build a free-access water resources information network
providing not only
passive information, but also active expertise consultation. The WRC's relationship
research and engineering communities will facilitate the technical development
of the proposed
Middle East and North Africa Waternet. The virtual world (cyberspace) will
ease communication at
almost no cost. The impact on data, projects professionals, education, water
agencies, water models,
will be tremendous.
It is therefore suggested to build an on-line information resources system
to help enhance and
improve communication and information sharing amongst water resources professionals
INRIA (French National Institute for Informatics and Automatic) has offered
the possibility of
using INRIA's server as a mirror to WATERNET.
A presentation of the prototype will be delivered during the conference
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