Water - a scarce resource in the MENA region

16 July 2008 | News story

The IUCN Environmental Law Centre participated in the first IUCN REWARD workshop which was held from 12 – 14 July in Cairo, Egypt, under the patronage of HE Dr Mahmoud Abu Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council and Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation. The Regional Water Resources and Drylands (REWARD) Programme has been initiated by the IUCN Regional Office for West Asia and Middle East (WAME) in response to the alert of scarce water resources in the region.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region suffers from severe water scarcities, over-abstraction of groundwater resources and low conjunctivity of ground and surface water use. Realizing the importance of exchanging knowledge and experience, one of the REWARD Programme’s aims is to provide a focal point for networking among researchers, experts, practitioners and other stakeholders with an interest in water resources and drylands management. Therefore, a Regional Network of Knowledge Nodes has been established. Bringing in its experience in the area of water resources governance, the IUCN Environmental Law Centre is part of this network.

During the REWARD workshop, regional and international water experts discussed a regional situation analysis on Integrated Water Resources Management, and in particular Groundwater Management, based on a number of country studies. In small working groups the current obstacles to a more sustainable use of water resources and possible future solutions were identified. Among others, the need for further development of the countries’ water related legislation, institutional reforms and capacity building to ensure better enforcement of the existing legislation, as well as the development of bilateral agreements between countries sharing water resources were highlighted.

The first REWARD workshop also provided an opportunity to launch the Regional Dialogue on Sustainable Groundwater Management. This Dialogue will become operational through a series of Regional Dialogue Experts Meetings over a period of 4 to 5 years. The Dialogue will lead to a high level policy meeting, where possible avenues for more sustainable use of groundwater could be translated into long term policies.