Report Proposes Master Plan for Water for Peace in the Middle East

By Strategic Foresight Group, PRNE
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MUMBAI, India, February 10, 2011 - The Middle East is likely to plunge into serious humanitarian crisis due
to depletion of water resources, unless remedial measures are introduced
urgently, says a new Strategic Foresight Group report, The Blue Peace:
Rethinking Middle East Water. The report prepared by the Strategic Foresight
Group, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and input from almost
100 leaders and experts from Israel, the Palestine Territories, Jordan,
Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey, also says that water crisis can be converted
into an opportunity for regional peace.

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The river flows in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan have depleted
by 50 to 90 per cent from 1960 to 2010. The annual flow of the Yarmouk River
declined from 600 MCM to about 250-300 MCM, while the Jordan River from 1300
MCM to 100 MCM. The water level in Barada River Basin in Syria has dropped
from 50 meters below ground in 1990 to 200 meters at present.

The renewable freshwater resources in the Mountain Aquifer, shared by
Israel and the Palestinian Territories, have been reduced by 7 per cent since
Oslo Accords in 1993 and in the Western Galilee Aquifer by 15-20 per cent.
This is assuming full recharge in a normal rainy year.

The water level in the Dead Sea dropped from 390 metres below sea level
in the 1960s down to 420 metres below sea level at present and will be 450
metres below sea level by 2040. The water surface area has shrunk by a third,
from 950 square kilometres to 637 square kilometres. If the surface water
level in the Dead Sea continues to erode, it will be reduced to a lake in 50
years, and will eventually disappear altogether.

The Strategic Foresight Group recommends a Cooperation Council for
Sustainable Water Management in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq,
building on cooperation between these countries in trade, transit, and
energy. The Cooperation Council will enable the countries to have common
standards for measuring water flows and quality, develop regional models for
combating climate change, spread new technologies, and facilitate basin level
integrated water management. The report also proposes confidence building
initiatives between Israel and the Palestine Authority to agree on the status
of water resources and method of functioning of the Joint Water Committee. It
recommends decentralised waste water treatment plants for the Palestine
Territories. In the long run, it recommends that the threatened water bodies
to be managed as Regional Commons and export of the waters from the Turkish
national rivers via the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley countries. The
Blue Peace report suggests that such cooperative measures can lead to broader
and sustainable peace between countries in the Middle East.

    Contact: Ms Ilmas Futehally, Executive Director
    Email:, Tel/fax: +91-22-26318260


Contact: Ms Ilmas Futehally, Executive Director, Email: info at, Tel/fax: +91-22-26318260

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