Groundwater Governance in the Arab World: Taking Stock and Addressing the Challenges

This project addresses the challenges posed by the unsustainable use of groundwater in the MENA region. By collating knowledge on groundwater management experiences at the world, regional and local level and translating them into science-policy dialogues, this project will produce a series of in-depth case studies and action plans on selected problem aquifers aiming to build the capacities of managers and decision makers, strengthen awareness on groundwater governance and contribute to finding solutions and mitigation measures to the groundwater crisis in the region. First this project will establish a general knowledge base by reviewing various instances of groundwater governance in the world and in the region. This will be fed into a regional dialogue in year two. The regional dialogue will demonstrate some of the tools that will be used in the participatory methodology on the field for the different case studies to researchers and practitioners from the region. It will aim to show that this innovative approach could be a valuable and innovative way to engage with communities in order to help solve the groundwater over-abstraction crisis in the region.The format of the Regional Dialogue will demand an active participation of the attendees, done through innovative and thought-provoking social learning exercises aimed at exposing the participants to new realities and thinking possibilities.Part of the methodology used for this project also has to do with improving participation and community engagement in groundwater management. We expect that the experience tested on the field in the different countries will serve as a catalyzer for future activities as well as potentially leading to more institutionalized and improved participation. Meanwhile, 6 different policy narratives on groundwater governance will be completed (Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, UAE, Oman) during year 2 of the project. In year 3, 4 specific aquifer studies (Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, UAE) will be generated. 3 specific aquifer dialogues (in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan) will also be organized within Year 3, facilitated by a specialized group of consultants. In year 3 white books presented to the relevant decision makers. The project engages with a series of local partners, (i.e. research institutes and individual consultants), as well as well-known members of civil society and policy making as part of the research team in each country in order to develop these country narratives and develop a successful dialogue in each of the cases. The project also incorporates an innovative methodology which will be developed in the aquifer dialogues in order to tease out relevant participation dynamics and actor and stakeholder involvement during the process. Farmers and users of these ecosystems studied will also be participating in the project via community meetings and community interaction. These meetings and gatherings albeit fairly informal, have the potential to kick-start social dynamics at the community level, as well as partnerships with regional and national institutions. Since the aquifer dialogues and regional conference will convene and put together practitioners and users, it is expected that durable and sustainable linkages will be developed between these two groups for each country studied, potentially turning into improved participatory mechanisms and policy/community/science dialogues. The in-depth studies and fieldwork will be shared and restituted back to the local communities via the aquifer dialogues and the regional dialogue. Each session/dialogue will include a presentation on policy, management, and governance problems identified by the research teams. The policy landscape, actors, stakeholders and constraints will be described in detail in our reports (national policy profiles for each country) which will be available online (in a specifically designed website for the project). They will also be part of the initial knowledge package and information shared with the participants of the regional dialogue (decision makers, practitioners, and researchers). The final uptake element of the project will be the restitution of the ‘White books’, one for each aquifer to the appropriate authorities (local and national). Learn more.