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Alternative Policy Study: Water Resource Management in West Asia

This study was carried out by the Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Drylands (ACSAD), Republic of Syria, in collaboration with the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), Bahrain, as part of the preparation for UNEP's GEO-2000 report.


The high population growth rate in the West Asia region exceeds by far the rate of developing water resources. Consequently, the annual per capita share of water resources is decreasing, and at an increasing rate. This study shows that developing water resources on a business-as-usual basis will leave the region with serious water shortages, in particular in the Arabian Peninsula where the annual water deficit could increase to as much as 67 percent of demand by 2015.

It is clear that current water resources cannot satisfy future demand much past 2005 without alternative policies. Two alternative policies are examined: in one water supplies are increased, and in the other water supplies are increased and policies altered. The scenarios show that water deficits can be reduced - though not eliminated - especially if emphasis is placed on cutting the wasteful use of water in agriculture, which accounts for the majority of water use in the region, and by shifting current policies away from stressing food self-sufficiency.


Status of Water Resources in West Asia

 Table of contents

The 4-million-square-kilometre West Asia region can be divided geographically and ecologically into two sub-regions, the Mashriq and the Arabian Peninsula. The region comprises 12 states with a total population of 85.6 million in 1995. The Mashriq, with a 1995 population of 45.1 million, includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and the territories of the National Palestinian Authority (NPA). The Arabian Peninsula, with a 1995 population of 40.5 million, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.

The great majority of the region (over 72 per cent) has an annual rainfall of less than 100 millimetres; about 18 per cent receives between 100 and 300 millimetres; under 10 per cent receives between 300 and 1 300 millimetres (ACSAD 1997). About 80 per cent of the region is therefore classified as semi-desert or desert land (AOAD 1995), 16 per cent is subject to desertification, and only 10 per cent is suitable for agriculture (2.3 per cent under irrigation and 7.7 per cent under rainfed cultivation).

Estimates of conventional (surface and groundwater) and non-conventional water resources (desalinated water, wastewater and agricultural drainage) in the region as of 1995 are given in table 1. Annual rainfall provides around 443 000 million cubic metres (ACSAD 1997), of which 41 per cent falls in the Mashriq and 59 per cent in the Arabian Peninsula. Surface water resources are estimated to be 88 300 million cubic metres in the Mashriq sub-region and 8 310 million cubic metres in the Arabian Peninsula.

Groundwater exists in both sub-regions, including both shallow and deep aquifers. In the Arabian Peninsula, groundwater in the shallow alluvial aquifers, located along the main wadi channels and the floodplains of drainage basins, is the only renewable water resource, with an approximate annual recharge of 5 020 million cubic metres a year. The Mashriq has frequent low- to medium-intensity rainfall of long duration which favours groundwater recharge. Hence the estimated annual recharge is better, at 8 515 million cubic metres a year.

Shallow aquifer reserves are estimated at 130 500 million cubic metres in the Arabian Peninsula; approximately 13 300 million cubic metres is available in the Mashriq. Coastal alluvial aquifers in the Arabian Peninsula are subject to salt water intrusion due to extensive groundwater withdrawal which has caused salinisation of coastal agricultural lands, resulting in the reduction of agricultural production and the complete loss of some arable land. Similarly, in the Mashriq sub-region the discharge of raw and partially treated wastewater from agriculture, industry and municipalities into water courses is a cause of deep concern over its health impacts; it has subjected agricultural land and water resources to severe pollution, and has contaminated shallow aquifers.

The main source of water for the countries of the Arabian Peninsula is non-renewable fossil groundwater stored in sedimentary deep aquifers. These store significant amounts of groundwater that is thousands of years old. Deep groundwater reserves are estimated at 2 175 thousand million cubic metres, with the major portion (1 919 thousand million cubic metres) in Saudi Arabia (Alalawi and Abdulrazzak 1993). However, recharge to all deep aquifers is estimated at a very limited 2 700 million cubic metres per year. The quality of the deep aquifers varies greatly; only in a few areas is it suitable for domestic consumption. Most of the water from these deep aquifers is used for agricultural purposes.

Groundwater resources in West Asia in general, and the Arabian Peninsula in particular, are in a critical condition because the volumes withdrawn far exceed natural recharge rates, resulting in a continuous decline in groundwater levels and a deterioration in water quality caused by the encroachment of sea water into coastal alluvial aquifers and the up-flow of connate waters in inland aquifers. A 1995 comparison between the Arabian Peninsula's annual groundwater recharge (7 200 million cubic metres) and groundwater abstraction rates (23 600 million cubic metres), indicates that the mining of groundwater reserves in the Arabian Peninsula is about 16 400 million cubic metres; by country, groundwater depletion rates (in millions of cubic metres) are: Bahrain - 100; Kuwait - 200; Oman - 240; Qatar - 140; Saudi Arabia - 13 558; UAE - 1 495; and Yemen - 700 (FAO 1997).

In the Mashriq, there is growing evidence of groundwater depletion in many countries, such as Jordan, Syria and the Gaza Strip, where groundwater use has been increasing, largely because of a decrease in surface water availability (MSE/UNDP 1997). In addition, over-irrigation and surface dumping of partially treated wastewater has generated large volumes of contaminated water, increasing the pollution levels of shallow aquifers.

Desalination technology was introduced in the mid-1950s and has developed very rapidly to counteract the shortage in conventional water sources. The majority of the region's desalination plants are found in the Arabian Peninsula; saltwater treatment facilities in the Mashriq are few and of small capacity. The 45 desalination plants operating in the Arabian Peninsula as a whole in 1992 had a total designed capacity of 2 320 million cubic metres, equivalent to 41 per cent of global capacity (Bushnak 1990; Wagnick 1992), and a total 1995 output of some 1 645 million cubic metres (Zubari 1997). The cost of water desalination ranges from US$1/m3 to US$1.5/m3. All desalination plants have some negative effects on the environment since they cause air pollution by emitting oxides and marine pollution from the rejected brine.

Wastewater treatment in the Arabian Peninsula constitutes an increasing water source driven by escalating water consumption in urban areas. Existing sewage treatment facilities, which process primary wastewater and have a processing capability estimated at 921 million cubic metres a year, could handle about 43 per cent of all domestic wastewater. However, the reused treated wastewater, which does not exceed 392 million cubic metres a year, is used mainly for irrigating fodder crops, gardens, highway landscapes and parks (Zubari 1997). The remainder is dumped at disposal areas to infiltrate shallow aquifers, or into the sea. In the Mashriq, wastewater, except in large cities, is discharged into watercourses and only part of it is used for irrigation purposes.

Recycled irrigation water is not used much in the Arabian Peninsula since excess irrigation water infiltrates the lower horizons and ultimately reaches the groundwater table; only in Saudi Arabia, in Al-Hassa Oasis, is about 30 million cubic metres a year of irrigation water reused in agriculture by mixing it with groundwater (Al-Kuwaiti and others 1999). In the Mashriq sub-region only Syria exploits these water sources, with some 1 210 million cubic metres being recycled annually. This source has, however, future potential given proper irrigation practices are applied. Other forms of non-conventional water sources, such as rainwater harvesting, weather modification, etc. are still in the research stage.

Population Growth and Water Demand

 Table of contents

Population growth in West Asia is a major issue affecting all sustainable socio-economic development. The estimated population in 1995 was 85.6 million (UNSPD 1997) with an average growth rate of 3.73 per cent for the Arabian Peninsula (Arab Fund 1995) and 3 per cent for the Mashriq countries. Population projections for West Asia over the period 1995-2015 are given in table 2.

The total water used for all purposes in the West Asia region in 1995 amounted to 96 065 million cubic metres (29 565 million cubic metres in the Arabian Peninsula and 66 500 million cubic metres in the Mashriq); average per capita water use in the same year was estimated to be 730 cubic metres a year for the Arabian Peninsula sub-region and 1 475 cubic metres a year in the Mashriq (table 3).

The high population growth rate in the region exceeds by far the rate of water resource development. Consequently, the annual per capita share of water resources is decreasing, and at an increasing rate. According to the Global Water Assessment, the share per individual in the Arab world has decreased during the last two decades from 2 200 cubic metres a year to 1 100 cubic metres a year.

Five countries of West Asia have a per capita water use of under 500 cubic metres a year, half the benchmark of 1 000 cubic metres a year which indicates chronic water scarcity (WRI/UNEP/UNDP/WB 1996). Only two countries, Iraq and Syria, actually exceed the 1 000 cubic metres a year benchmark; Saudi Arabia and UAE have done so only by mining their groundwater reserves.

The national economy of most countries of West Asia depends on oil and oil-related industries, commerce, light industries, and agriculture, in this descending order. Due to the fast increase in population and urbanisation, domestic water and industry needs are escalating at rates with which available water resources cannot keep pace. Furthermore, the adopted policy of food self-sufficiency imposes continual constraints on the allocation of water resources, which would otherwise reduce the share for agriculture in favour of increased domestic and industrial demand. Currently the agricultural sector takes 85 per cent of available water resources in the Arabian Peninsula and 95 per cent in the Mashriq, followed by domestic water use, 14 per cent and 4 per cent respectively, with industry in both sub-regions accounting for less than 2 per cent.

The water stress experienced by the countries of West Asia in 1995 is expressed in table 4 as the percentage of available water resources actually used. The index reaches values of over 100 per cent in five of the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula and critical values in the remaining two. This indicates that these countries have already exhausted their renewable water resources and are now exploiting non-renewable reserves.

In the Mashriq the water stress index looks better, except for Jordan where it is over 100 per cent. However, all countries of this sub-region have critical conflicts concerning shared water resources which remain to be reconciled. Furthermore, not only are per capita water resources below 1 000 cubic metres a year in 9 out of the 12 countries of West Asia, in 7 countries (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, NPA, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen) they are even below 500 cubic metres a year. The overall value of the water stress index for West Asia is 84.4 per cent, which is considered very critical. It is worth mentioning that groundwater reserves were depleted by over 17 000 million cubic metres in 1995.

Future Water Demand

 Table of contents

Box 1: Assessing Water Demand in West Asia







A. Domestic Water Demand (litres per capita per day)

Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE






Saudi Arabia, Lebanon












Jordan, Syria, Oman






West Bank & Gaza Strip, Yemen






B. Industrial Water Demand (litres per capita per day)







Bahrain, Qatar, UAE












Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria






Kuwait, Oman, Yemen






West Bank & Gaza Strip






C. Agricultural Water Demand in 1995 (litres per capita per day)

Arabian Peninsula






1 428


1 685

Saudi Arabia

2 788


1 908





6 488








2 627

The development in water demand for sectoral users (agriculture, domestic and industry) depends on the normal growth rate of the population in West Asian countries which is currently 3-4 per cent. As an alternative, the medium variant scenario (UNST/ESA/SER.A/145) is used. The 1990 population was used as the base year for the projections, which cover the 20-year period 1995-2015.

The rates of domestic (A) and industrial (B) water consumption are taken from national reports for 1995. The proposed increases in rates of water consumption are based on estimates of the general availability of water resources, the status and trends of urbanisation, predicted rates of industrial development, and anticipated agro-industrial developments and other social development targets.

Estimated rates of agricultural water demand (C) are based on 1995 national reports. Increases are based on population growth. A gradual reduction of agricultural water demand (at rates from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent, and eventually 17 per cent) is foreseen in the 2000-2015 period due to anticipated improvements in agricultural production research in the fields of genetic engineering and tissue culture, and particularly due to savings in consumptive use.

Clearly, policies regarding the development and rational use of water resources throughout the region urgently need reviewing. Projections of the total sectoral water demand in West Asia over the period 1995-2015 (table 5) are based on the criteria explained in the box right.

The increase in water demand across all sectors will be 47 130 million cubic metres by 2015 and it is evident that agriculture will continue to dominate all other uses. Furthermore, from the available water resources in 1995 of 113 759 million cubic metres (96 612 million cubic metres surface water, 13 050 million cubic metres rechargable groundwater and 4 097 million cubic metres non-conventional water resources (table 1)), the anticipated water demand in 2015 of 143 195 million cubic metres (table 5), and the deteriorating water stress index, it is clear that current water resources cannot satisfy future water demand much past 2005 unless positive steps are taken soon to rationalise water demand management, increase and augment supply, and impose realistic controls on use.

The Arabian Peninsula is already suffering from a deficit in water resources. The 1995 total annual water demand of 29 565 million cubic metres is estimated to grow to 47 320 million cubic metres by 2015 whereas the total available water will hardly exceed 15 400 million cubic metres. Under these circumstances it will be difficult to maintain the regional emphasis on food production and the widespread import of foodstuffs will increase by necessity.

Currently the water deficit is partially compensated for by the over-exploitation of shallow and deep fossil aquifers and by the extensive installation of highly expensive desalination plants. The negative impacts include fast depletion of aquifer reserves, possible conflicts arising from differential use of aquifers shared between states, deteriorating water quality and salinisation of agricultural lands. Furthermore, existing wastewater treatment facilities can cope with only 35 per cent of urban and industrial waste. Pollution from inappropriate disposal of untreated wastewater will create health hazards through the contamination of shallow groundwater aquifers.

These issues are all aggravated by a general weakness among the institutions dealing with water affairs. This is due to inadequate technical capabilities and unsatisfactory coordination between concerned water authorities.

The Mashriq sub-region, with nearly ten times the renewable water resources of the Arabian Peninsula, is in a much better situation. Available resources can theoretically sustain the projected use of 95 875 million cubic metres in 2015. However, strict control measures are needed to curb current problems related to over-exploitation, inefficient re-use of wastewater, untreated industrial waste and pollution of shallow aquifers. Institutional capacity building and enforcement of legislation also require attention, as well as the continuing problem of potential conflicts between neighbouring states over the equitable distribution of shared water resources. Table 6 summarises the problems and critical issues in the water sector of West Asia. These problems are common in countries of both sub-regions, though the intensity of their environmental impact varies according to the geopolitical and socio-economic status of each country.

Water Resources in West Asia: Three Scenarios

 Table of contents


To develop policies which will ensure the sustainable development of water resources in West Asia, three scenarios, each based on different assumptions, were used to study the potential water balance for the period 1995-2015. The results of the three scenarios are shown in tables 7, 8 and 9. Proposed remedy policies detailing the range of desired actions for implementation are outlined in table 10.

Scenario 1: Business as Usual

The assumptions on which this scenario is based are that:

Under this scenario, the Arabian Peninsula will suffer from acute water shortages and fail to fulfil the set policy of maximum possible food self-sufficiency. Water balance will remain in deficit throughout the period, with the percentage water demand deficit varying from 47.9 per cent in 1995 to 67.4 per cent in 2015. A total water deficit of some 31 910 million cubic metres in 2015 is foreseen.

The Mashriq sub-region is better off. The water balance will continue on the positive side. However, the percentage of surplus of water in relation to demand will come down from 31.9 per cent in 1995 to a critical 2.5 per cent in 2015.

For West Asia as a whole, this scenario suggests a deficit of 4 110 million cubic metres in 2005, rising to 29 440 million cubic metres in 2015. The percentage ratio between water balance and total demand will swing from +18.4 per cent in 1995 to -20.55 per cent in 2015 (table 7).

Furthermore, these disturbing conclusions assume that disputes over shared water resources will be settled and agricultural water demand will decrease. This anticipated reduction in agricultural water demand of 17 per cent by 2015 (box 1) will come from agricultural research to maximise agricultural productivity per unit of water and the application of appropriate technologies, including biotechnologies, to achieve this.

Although scenario 1 appears pessimistic, maybe even unrealistic, there are several justifications for its consideration. West Asia is located in an arid region; 80 per cent of its land is classified as desert or semi-desert. Most of the easily exploited or promising water sources have been developed; remaining locations require heavy investment, laborious investigation and intensive research programmes.

The unresolved political conflicts and the disputes and wars that have inflamed the region in the last three decades have drastically affected the region's economy and upset the socio-economic development plans of all member countries. Potential conflicts over shared water resources - which constitute a significant proportion of total resources - require lengthy and difficult negotiation before equitable reconciliation can be attained. The result has been the postponement of many water development schemes.

Scenario 2: Supply Augmentation

The assumptions on which this scenario is based are that:

Under the supply augmentation scenario, the water deficit in the Arabian Peninsula will be reduced to 26 470 million cubic metres by 2015; the percentage water demand deficit will increase from 47.9 per cent in 1995 to 55.9 per cent in 2015.

In the Mashriq, while there will be no overall deficit in water resources, the percentage ratio between water balance and total demand will decrease from 47.9 per cent in 1995 to 6.5 per cent in 2015.

For West Asia as a whole, there will be a deficit of 9 380 million cubic metres in 2010 reaching 20 240 million cubic metres in 2015. The percentage ratio between water balance and total demand will drop from +18.4 per cent in 1995 to -14.1 per cent in 2015 (table 8).

Scenario 3: Supply Augmentation and Policy Remedies

The assumptions on which this scenario is based are that:

Under this scenario, extensive research, investigation, development and reform programmes will be essential to develop the additional water resources foreseen in scenario 2, to effect the optimum rationalisation of water use and to minimise water losses to gain about 11 600 million cubic metres by 2015. This will be achieved by resolving the major snags and problems that impede the efficient use of the limited available water resources (table 10).

Even with supply augmentation and policy remedies, the Arabian Peninsula will continue to experience an increasing water deficit, from 14 160 million cubic metres in 1995 to 20 870 million cubic metres in 2015. The percentage ratio between water balance and total demand will level off at around -50 per cent.

Under the same scenario, the Mashriq will continue to enjoy a surplus of water resources, varying between 31 850 million cubic metres in 1995 to 12 230 million cubic metres in 2015. Nevertheless, the percentage of water balance to total demand will decrease from 47.9 per cent in 1995 to 13.6 per cent by 2015.

The result of adding policy remedies to the supply augmentation scenario should result, by 2015, in a decrease in total water demand of 6 000 million cubic metres for the Mashriq and 5 600 million cubic metres for the Arabian Peninsula.

For West Asia as a whole, a deficit of 500 million cubic metres in water resources will be experienced in 2010 rising to 8, 640 million cubic metres in 2015. The percentage of water balance to demand will gradually fall to -6.6 per cent in 2015 (table 9).

It is evident that scenario 3 is preferable and constitutes an appropriate basis for defining an alternative strategy for securing the sustainable development of water resources in West Asia. Even so, it is clear that the Arabian Peninsula will continue to experience a deficit in its water resources if its food security targets are adhered to. Either the sub-region will have to mine some 361 700 million cubic metres of shallow and deep groundwater resources during the projected period, or it will have to significantly increase imports of agricultural produce to cover the deficit. In the Mashriq, the early equitable settlement of potential conflicts over shared water resources remains a fundamental pressing issue.

An Alternative Strategy for Sustainably Developing Water Resources in West Asia

 Table of contents

The overall objectives of the following proposed alternative water policies for the countries of West Asia is to secure long-term water supplies while meeting strict criteria for public health requirements and for socio-economic, financial and environmental sustainability. The actions set out below are based primarily on the lessons from scenario 3, and seem to offer the most promising alternatives. They are focused specifically on the acute problems of water supply and management in the West Asia region, and are aimed to encourage:

Planning and Analysis

Water policy formulation is very data intensive. Reliable data are the basis for the sound planning and implementation of water policy. Comprehensive hydrological data are required to complete a full inventory of the existing quantity and quality of water resources, along with time series for trend analysis and to calculate design parameters for waterworks. Data should be scrutinised to eliminate any exaggeration, and data collection should be well planned and continuous to provide information for assessing the performance of water schemes after implementation and their effect on downstream users.

The scarcity of water resources in West Asia is aggravated by potential conflicts between member countries and their neighbours; these will seriously affect the preparation of future sustainable socio-economic development plans if not reconciled. The development of additional water resources in the region will require well planned, detailed and integrated studies of the potential for surface, groundwater and non-conventional water resources, and cooperation between member states in these studies. Only then can the most appropriate and economically feasible options be selected from among the many recognised techniques, including rainwater harvesting, surface storage, groundwater recharge, wastewater reuse, weather modification, rational exploitation of groundwater aquifers, water importation and desalination of brackish and sea water.

Legal and Institutional Reforms

Water legislation is closely linked with the development of other natural resources, especially in arid regions such as West Asia where environmental conditions are vulnerable and sensitive to deterioration. Water legislation in West Asia is not keeping pace with the demand for water resources and there is an urgent need to critically review all existing legislation and how it relates to the policy options under review. The main areas of legislation that require amendment cover water rights, water abstraction, water quality and environmental standards, water charges, water pollution and environment protection, groundwater protection from depletion and contamination, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal.

Amended legislation itself will not be effective in implementing new policy without a significant reorganisation of water administrations, and especially the decentralisation of the power and influence of the central governmental bodies responsible for water resource development and management. Indeed, institutional weakness constitutes a major constraint on the management of water resources in most of the countries of West Asia. This is a direct consequence of the institutions dealing with water research having ill-defined responsibilities regarding investigation and studies, planning and management, and the absence of updated powerful legislation to enforce coordination and collaboration between different authorities at local, regional and national levels. Cross-sectoral coordination between the water, agriculture, housing, industry, and planning directorates of governments is also required for efficient and successful policy formulation. Capacity building among the technical staff of research institutes and other water and agricultural administrations is also badly needed.

Economic Considerations

There are strong links between national economies and water resource management. National development strategies - for example strategies for food self-sufficiency - directly influence water allocation and use, while policies to promote exports and foreign exchange earnings from highly priced cash crops call for increased investment in irrigation schemes.

The implementation of effective and efficient policies governing water resources is greatly hindered by the shortage of financial resources. Future sustainable water policies must have positive impacts on central government finances from new tax revenues, prices and charges, and the reduction of subsidies.

Economic incentives could provide effective instruments for rationalising water use provided they do not act against other key economic factors. Possible incentives include water tariffs for domestic and industrial water supplies, charges for abstraction, irrigation, water wastage and pollution, and soft loans for modernising equipment. While the best way of discouraging industrial water pollution may be by setting economic charges for water polluters with pollution charges proportional to the volume and the quality of effluent, implementation difficulties may be encountered through lack of enforcement procedures. The same caveat also applies for irrigation charges, based on metering consumption, area irrigated, type of crop, or length of irrigation time.

Groundwater pricing can be based either on quantity-based charges or on transferable pumping entitlements. Existing problems with monitoring and enforcement suggest that a quantity-based approach is both economically and administratively efficient (FAO 1993) even though it may not be the most effective alternative.

Water Conservation

Records and studies indicate that water is used excessively and wastefully in all sectors - agricultural, domestic and industrial - throughout West Asia. Huge water losses of at least 45 per cent in agriculture arise from inefficient irrigation systems, there is a 20 per cent leakage rate from water supply networks, and 10 per cent losses are recorded for industrial use. All countries of West Asia must incorporate conservation programmes into their water resource management plans to cut down water losses.

In the agricultural sector this can be approached by:

The domestic and industrial sectors may require:

Projects and Programs

Water projects and programmes represent the final outcome of the process of water policy review. They constitute a component of the action plan which should be consistent with overall water strategies. During detailed feasibility studies, any proposed projects and programmes must undergo comprehensive review and assessment before implementation, including cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, environmental impact assessment and economic and financial analysis.

It is suggested that each country of West Asia appoint a national council, if not yet existing, whose members are ministers responsible for water resource development, management and utilisation, to coordinate at the highest political level and formulate the overall water policy of the country. A technical body (secretariat/committee), to be suggested by the council and composed of senior scientists, economists, engineers, lawyers from concerned ministries and authorities, university and research institutes, and public agencies and stakeholders, including (if the country's political system permits) representatives of water users, would help the council and ensure fair institutional and inter-ministerial coordination at the national level.

Any water strategy should consider water sector development, demand, protection and sustainable use in the medium and long term (15-30 years). A lot of data and information are needed to adequately form the base on which the strategy would be formulated, with possible suitable options. The work plan would include several stages, with a number of parameters relevant to each stage. These are:

According to the evaluation result, the selected options and alternatives for strategy formulation could be decided and programmes, water projects, tariffs, new technologies and legal institutional reform could be recommended.

Water policies are usually projected over long periods and normally have unforeseen impacts which are difficult to measure in detail. They may not be implemented as proposed, instead responding to current needs and priorities. Water policies may require continuous monitoring for progress, re-evaluation or even revision of priorities to meet obstacles. Therefore, monitoring policy actions would benefit policy management.


The successful implementation of these policies is the key to coping with water scarcity in the region. However, failure to achieve the set targets of decreasing agricultural water demand will result in the deterioration of both the quantity and quality of water supplies, widening food deficits, inflaming social unrest, and exacerbating possible regional conflicts. Furthermore, the assumptions built into the other scenarios will delay these problems, not solve them, unless stringent regulatory measures are put into force and policy shifts strictly implemented.


 Table of contents

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