|Central Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas (UNU, 1998, 203 pages)|
Freshwater Resources in Arid Lands
Edited by Juha I. Uitto and Jutta Schneider
Demand For fresh water is growing rapidly worldwide, making it an increasingly scarce resource. Arid lands today cover over a third of the Earth's land surface, but a disproportionate share of them can be found in Africa, the Middle East and the interior of Asia. Scarce water resources limit the potential for agriculture and development, cause serious environmental problems, and can become sources of conflict. This book concludes that efficient management of the demand for water is as important as the improvement of water supply. A more economical use of the limited freshwater resources is seen as essential for achieving sustainable development.
Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East Alternative Strategies
By Masahiro Murakami
This forthcoming volume evaluates some non-conventional approaches to resolving water resources issues in the Middle East. The text draws on studies involving Kuwait, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Israel.
Hydropolitics Along the Jordan River
Scarce Water and Its Impact on the Arab-lsraeli Conflict
By Aaron T. Wolf
This book argues that the Jordan River watershed - a region where some of the worst Arab-lsraeli conflict has occurred - might be the very place to bury ancient hatreds and work to give birth to new and more enlightened environmental collaborations.
"Central Eurasian Water Crisis" refers to the awareness by the global community that, in the 21st century, people in various regions around the world will likely face problems of water quality and water quantity. These problems have already surfaced in several locations, and this volume focuses on three of them: the Dead Sea region, the Aral Sea region, and the Caspian Sea region. Researchers from a variety of physical and social science disciplines seek to identify the water-related problems and the prospects for resolving them.
The water level of the Dead Sea has been declining in recent years, and this has added to the political tensions in the region. Perhaps it is through the need to resolve environmental issues related to water resources associated with the Dead Sea that a major step can be taken to peaceful cooperation.
The Aral Sea, too, has been declining in recent decades. Research shows that scientists in the various Central Asian Republics and in Moscow realized that the Aral Sea's existence was threatened by the use of river water to serve cotton development in the sands of otherwise dry Central Asian deserts. Today, policymakers and scientists are seeking ways to save what remains of the Aral Sea.
The Caspian Sea, the largest inland sea in the world, has gone through decadal-scale fluctuations over the past 150 years. From the 1930s until the late 1970s, the level of the Caspian dropped rather rapidly. In the late 1970s, it began to rise quickly, causing severe problems for the coastal states. The circum-Caspian region is one of the richest on the globe with regard to oil and gas reserves. Its environmental problems (oil and waste pollution, desertification, the survival of the sturgeon, and the fluctuating sea level) will only serve to worsen other regional political problems, unless they are addressed in the near future. In fact, it may be that addressing environmental issues directly can lead to cooperation in other areas.
This volume attempts to raise as many questions as it might answer about Eurasian water crises. To others around the world, let these cases serve as lessons of actions to be taken... or not taken.
Iwao Kobori is a programme advisor at the United Nations University in Tokyo. Michael H. Glantz is Senior Scientist in the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
United Nations University Press