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close this bookHydropolitics along the Jordan River. Scarce Water and Its Impact on the Arab-Israeli Conflict (UNU, 1995, 272 pages)
close this folder3. Towards an interdisciplinary approach to water basin analysis and the resolution of international water disputes
close this folder3.4. An interdisciplinary approach to water basin analysis and conflict resolution
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.4.1 Summary of disciplinary survey
View the document3.4.2 Towards an interdisciplinary approach
View the document3.4.3 Water and its evaluation

3.4.3 Water and its evaluation

Because of water's particular "salience" and its singular characteristics as a resource, it is not surprising that water poses a particular challenge for the disciplines that attempt to analyse conflict. Delli Priscoli (1992) lists five kinds of conflicts: value, interest, structural, data, and relationship conflicts. Water has been, and will no doubt continue to be, the source of many conflicts of all five types.

As is seen in this chapter, the disciplines through which we seek to evaluate conflicts have parallel roles, sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory, in the long-term assessment of water basin development. One important point that should be mentioned is that none of the paradigms are autonomous. Just as political considerations can effectively block a project with an otherwise favourable economic evaluation, a project that can be shown to bring greater economic welfare to a region might influence the political decision-making process to allow the necessary cooperation.

Because these disciplines become so intertwined in issues raised by international water scarcity, the proponents of each approach increasingly have to become not only aware, but thoroughly knowledgeable, of the criteria and concerns of the other.

As the interdisciplinary needs of water resources planning draw the worlds of the physical scientist, the economist, and the political analyst increasingly closer, each will have to learn at least a little about the other. Hydrologic variations in water supply and demand, political considerations of equity, control, and ideology, and economic measures of marginal utility and relative advantage, all interact to determine overall viability of solutions to interbasin water issues. But new opportunities to influence, rather than strictly to analyse, the needs and opportunities of a water basin can ensue from a united language, resulting in increased options for the ever-desperate inhabitants of water basins. The results, finally, should be well worth the effort.

One such interdisciplinary framework for water conflict analysis, presented in this chapter, might be applied to any number of the more than 200 international water basins. The results of such an analysis are extremely site specific, however, depending on the unique combination of hydrology and politics of each basin. In chapter 4 this interdisciplinary framework is applied to the Jordan River watershed, to explore options for watershed development and cooperationinducing project design.