Developing a Model for Assessing the Impact of Regional Virtual Water Trade and Water Footprints on the Water Conflicts in the Middle East: JRB as Case Study

Discussion Committee: 
Dr. Numan Mizyed/ Supervisor
Dr.Maher Abumadi /External Examiner
Prof. Marwan Hadad/Internal Examiner)
Dr. Hafez Qadri Shaheen/ Internal Examiner
Dr. Numan Mizyed/ Supervisor
Sireen Abdelateef Abdelgafour
The continuous high demand of water in conjunction with water scarcity in the Jordan River Basin (JRB); makes determining the amount of water footprint (WF) at different levels an important issue. Despite the progress made in the WF research since the emergence of WF term by Hoekstra (2003), there are still very few WF studies focusing on specific river basins, especially for those in arid and semi-arid regions. The aim of this study was to quantify the blue WF within the Jordan River Basin (JRB), linking the water footprint with the water conflicts, and try to develop a model and running some suggested scenarios on it to investigate optimal management of water resources which could help reducing water conflicts. Because of data availability, this study focused only on three states of the Jordan River riparian States which are Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The results show that the average annual blue WF was 2657 MC Min the JRB over the period 2009–2011. Agricultural activities were the largest water consumer, accounting for 48%of the blue WF (45%for crop production and 3% for livestock production). The remaining 52% was for the domestic and industrial sectors with 45% for the domestic sector and 7% for industrial sector. The study found that the JRB blue WF exceeded blue water availability (the ratio was more than 313%) making the region suffers from severe blue water scarcity. There are many indicators showing that water consumption for human activities in the JRB has exceeded the sustainable level of water availability during the period 2009-2011. The severe water scarcity will reflect on water conflicts; it will increase the tensions and sensitivities in the region in addition to the already existing political tensions. The developed model is important to examine the water footprint response (and also the water conflicts since we take WF as indicator of water conflicts) to the changing factors such as the production quantities and planting location. The proposed scenarios did not give any real solution to the problem of fresh water scarcity and water conflictsin the region. Reducing water footprints (m3/ton) in JRB by increasing water productivity (ton/ m3) is key in reducing the pressure on the JRB water resources. This could be done by increasing green and blue water productivity that could be achieved by changing some agricultural practices and the locations for planting different crops. Developing a good water policy and good regional trade policy among the JRB riparian countries can on the long-term reach a more optimal use of water, minimize water footprint and maximize production per unit of water but will not be sufficient in eliminating or reducing water conflicts.
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