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Understanding water management challenges in the Middle East from a grounded perspective.

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Philippe Ker Rault, Dr Paul Jeffrey
Centre for Water Science, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK;, tel: + 44 (0)1234 754814, Fax: +44 (0)1234 751671

Keyword(s): IWRM, Middle East, Governance, Stakeholders, Social Survey
AbstractTraditional approaches to water management distinguishing between potable water production and supply, wastewater collection and treatment, water for industrial and agricultural purposes, has shown the limit of its efficiency. To address water resources management is to address the interconnections between open complex systems that are socially and economically anchored with technical and environmental challenges managed by local, national and international institutions. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a complex problem i.e. the set of appropriate solutions is a function of the understanding and construction of both problems and implications of proposed solutions by stakeholders. Water is both a state strategic commodity and a public good, that questions the functioning of governing institutions and their capacities to adapt to far ranging conflicting influences and needs. At the heart of IWRM is the concept of public participation, but little is known about stakeholders’ expectation towards water resources and services management. In order to bridge the gap between water management policy design and objectives and the concerns and expectations which stakeholders, including the public, have towards water management, four medium scale social surveys were carried out at catchment level in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. The main objective of the social survey was to produce a grounded picture of the perception of water challenge management of a representative sample of the population at catchement level. A questionnaire survey, was conducted in 2006 with population samples (n=400) representative to a confidence interval of 5% and a confidence level of 95%. The questionnaire design and content were quality controlled by English speakers, then translated in Jordanian Arabic, Lebanese Arabic, Syrian Arabic and Turkish by local researchers and submitted to further quality control. The answers were translated back to English by local researchers briefed on the method used, and translations were double checked. The use of open questions on a medium size sample allows both qualitative and quantitative analysis that enriches the multi dimension dynamic picture of expectations. Results reported here focused on the respondents’ suggestions to improve the way water is currently managed in their area, and first reveals that answers are rich and highlight that the public is concerned by several aspects embedded with both resources and services management. Second, water management challenges are perceived to be of four types: first, technical issues i.e. lack of asset management, second; managerial & planning issues i.e. lack of strategic planning for the future and of clear policy, including pollution as the consequence of poor management; third, governance issues i.e. poor communication between competent authorities which is viewed as a political issue; and forth, behavioural issues i.e. low individual interest in the common good, irresponsible and illegal behaviours. These results confirm that the tension between water resources and water services management is a hurdle to accommodate an holistic water management policy, as commended by numerous UN’s declarations and European Water Framework Directive. The relative importance of the four types of water management challenges are linked to the current level of service delivery and type of governance.
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