The Waters of the Levant
by Dr. Rushdi Said

On November 25, 1998, geologist Dr. Rushdi Said spoke at Al-Hewar Center about the availability of water in the part of the Middle East known as the Levant.  The following is a summary of his speech:

The renewable water resources available to the five states which make up the Levant: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine are so small that they can hardly satisfy the bare minimum needs of their present-day populations. In fact, these states, with the exception of Lebanon, have to withdraw an average of about 108% of their renewable water resources in order to satisfy these needs. This untenable situation will have serious consequences if it is allowed to continue in the future when demand will most assuredly increase as a result of the expected growth of the population.

In order to avoid these consequences these states have either to increase their water resources or manage their demand and cope with the constraints of a world with a small and limited water supply. This paper discusses the traditional and non-traditional methods which can be applied toward augmenting the water resources of these states and comes to the conclusion that these methods can add little to these resources. It thus seems that the only path open to these states, at least in the foreseeable future, is to adjust their ways to live in a world which is poor in its water supplies. The adjustment entails managing demand and limiting the use of water to areas which can bring higher return per unit of water. The area which needs prime attention in this direction is the irrigated agriculture sector which at present consumes the largest part of the water and brings the least return. This situation can be reversed if the current traditional agriculture were to be transformed into scientific agriculture where productivity would be higher and the water requirements smaller. This transformation is a complex undertaking that can happen only in the states which have the advanced scientific research institutions which can back it and the necessary skilled labor which can man it. Among all the states in the region Israel seems to be the only country which has gone a long way toward achieving this transformation. The flow of the highly-skilled immigrants from the former Soviet Union and the enormous support this country is getting from the outside world may have helped hasten this process. All other countries of the region must follow the same path or else face a future that is fraught with danger that may well affect their existence. It would seem that the most urgent task that these states must undertake in order to succeed in this transformation is to forge ahead with a process of modernization that would revolutionize the orientation of their various endeavors.


Home Page | Al-Hewar Center | Calendar | Magazines | Subscriptions | Feedback | Advertising
Copyright 1999 Al-Hewar Center, Inc. All rights reserved.

For more information, please
contact Al-Hewar via e-mail
at alhewar@alhewar.com