Important aspects of water management in iraq thareef J. Mohammed Althabhawi, Saady M. Abaas icon

Important aspects of water management in iraq thareef J. Mohammed Althabhawi, Saady M. Abaas




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IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF WATER MANAGEMENT IN IRAQ


Thareef J.Mohammed Althabhawi, Saady M. Abaas,

Sanaa J. Mohammed*, Dijla J. Mohammed*

Sumy State University, Ukraine

Kufa University*, Iraq


The purposes of our research are to evaluate the present situation in water management in Iraq and to determine most important directions for its development.

Indicator of water availability per capita in countries of Arab region is the lowest in the world. About 95% of them is considered as arid or semi arid. This rarity of precipitation combined with high variability and frequent drought events places stress on available water resources. Some 66% of the region’s water flows across international borders (shared rivers), further complicating the resource management challenge. The availability of adequate water resources and its rational utilization is emerging as a major issue in the development activity in the region. Per capita water availability have fallen from 3600 m3/year in 1960 to about 1000 m3 in 2000 and will fall by half by 2025 [1].

Most of the region’s countries cannot meet current water demand, and many already face serious challenges. These challenges appears likely to escalate, as the region’s population continues to grow, as the region’s economies and population structures change over the next few decades, demands for water supply and irrigation services will change accordingly, as will the need to address industrial and urban pollution . All of this will have short and long-term effects on economic growth and poverty, will exacerbate tensions within and between communities, and will put increasing pressure on public budgets. The increasing cost of water development, compound by increasing cross – sectoral demand on the limited water resources is forcing policy makers in the region to focus on the economic of water and its efficient use and allocation among competing users .The economics of water is now considered one important aspect of water management.

Dealing with water has always been considered and by far in water scarce regions, as a sensitive issue for political and social factors .The common perception, for long time, has been that water is a free natural commodity since it is vital for life. Due to increasing water scarcity this perception has progressively changed for a new economic vision .The value of a commodity arises from the benefit accruing from its use.

Across the region, agriculture, which consumes more than 85 percent of the region’s water, is using water and capital investment inefficiently. The added value from using this huge volume of water is very low. Farmers in the Arab region, use water from publicly funded irrigation networks to grow low-value crops, often with low yields, rather than specializing in high value crops for which water needs remain unmet. Low water use efficiency in agriculture, characterize almost all the countries of the region. In fact every country of the region, therefore, has sufficient water to supply its population with drinking water, even given burgeoning urban populations. This is true in case of raising irrigation efficiency to 70 % or 80%, which is a reasonable goal that can be achieved [2]. The saved water can be used either for meeting drinking water demand or theoretically can increase the irrigated areas by about 50% and consequently reduce the deficit in the water budget [3].

The heart of the water management challenge in the Arab region is to reduce water consumption to a level consistent with long-term availability and sustainable environmental management, and to distribute it fairly and efficiently, so as not to suppress economic growth. The approach of securing supply is reaching its physical and financial limits and a switch toward water management is needed. A series of technical and policy changes to the water sector in most region countries is needed if the countries are to accelerate their progress and avoid the economic and social hardships that might otherwise occur. The changes include planning that integrates water quality and quantity and considers the entire water system; promotion of demand management using economic instruments to allocate water according to principles of economic efficiency and developing systems that have built-in flexibility to manage variations in supply and demand; tariff reform for water supply, sanitation, and irrigation; strengthening of government agencies. International experience indicates pricing mechanisms can be effective at reducing urban demand but does not work in irrigation. To affect demand, the price of irrigation water would have to increase to levels far above the cost of providing the service [4]. One study estimates that the price required to induce a 15 percent decrease in demand for water in Egypt would be equivalent to 25 percent of average net farm income, which would be politically infeasible. A study in Mexico suggests that to reduce demand to sustainable levels, the water tariffs would have to increase more than fivefold. International experience indicates that the solution inevitably requires stable and well-specified access rights to water, in combination with institutions that have the capacity to manage the water access regime, and cost recovery sufficiently to ensure the long term operation of the infrastructure. A new approach is now under discussion to allow users to trade water, which could help reallocate water to the highest-value use. In fact this case is well developed in several Arab countries when the owner of a borehole is selling water for others, either for drinking water or irrigation at a high tariff [5]. This issue should be determined by technical and legal specifications and can not be left as it is. Economic diversification and growth could lead to more employment opportunities outside agriculture, and allow the region’s farmers to consolidate and concentrate on high-value crops.

One of the reasons that reforms have often not led to the expected improvements in the Arab countries, is that some of the most important factors that affect water outcomes are outside irrigation, water resource management, and water supply and sanitation. Policies that deal with agriculture, trade, energy, real estate, finance, and social protection, and that affect overall economic diversification may have more impact on water management than many policies championed and implemented by water-related ministries. For example, cropping choices are a key determinant of water use in agriculture and they are affected far more by the price the farmer can get for those crops than by the price of irrigation services, which is typically a very small share of a farmer’s costs. The price of agricultural commodities is, in turn, determined by a range of non water policies such as trade, transport, land, and finance.

There is no doubt that implementing the sound water policy requires the allocation of the necessary funds. Since it has become difficult for the Arab countries to provide adequate funds for the implementation of water and agricultural projects whose implementation requires huge sum of money, therefore, the new principle of private sector participation in various water projects, such as implementing, upgrading and managing drinking water networks, sewage system , building treatment plants and irrigation systems has emerged. The public sector in any Arab country, regardless of its potential financial capabilities, and due to the current conditions of the world economy, is no longer able to provide the necessary financial resources to invest in the water.

Therefore, it was necessary for the public sector to abandon (even if partially) his monopoly on the water sector giving chance for the private sector to contribute to financing water projects under the supervision and the control of the governmental institutions. For example, the World Bank estimates the investments required for the water sector in the Arab region for the next ten years to be from 45 to 60 billion dollars [6]. A number of countries have started already implementing this experiment as is the case in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan. Saudi Arabia has started considering involving the private sector in building water desalination units.

The cooperation between the public and private sectors not only raises the economic efficiency of water services, but also increases the speed of accomplishing various water projects which will help in raising the sanitary and environmental level of the community. However, to maintain such cooperation, the presence of good institutional structures and trained cadres capable of monitoring and following up recent technological developments are indispensable. There is no doubt that to guarantee the success of these experiments, the participation of water users is highly required due to the great role they play in the success of the projects that they take part in their planning and implementation. So the participation of private sector should not be considered as a target goal but as a mean for increasing economic efficiency and ameliorating the service level.

The adoption of a new water strategy, which takes into consideration the economic implications of declining water resources and how to maximize the benefits of water under condition of increasing scarcity became a necessity for Arab region. Allocating water to the most beneficial use is considered one of the basic elements of this strategy.

References

1. Droubi A.Water Economies, Paper presented at the first meeting of the Arab ministers of water, Cairo 14-16 / 7/2008 (in Arabic).

2. IFAD : Managing water scarcity in NENA region, 2004

3. Sadik A. K.: Economic water related issues,7th Gulf water conference, 19-23 November, 2005 Kuwait.

4. World Bank: Making the most of scarcity. Accountability for better water management results in the Middle East and North Africa, 2007.

5. FAO; Agriculture, food and water. A contribution to the world water development report, 2003, 59 pp.

6. Zubari W. Gulf Drops ,water issues and challenges in GCC countries, Science and Water technology Society, Arabian Gulf University, 421pp.(in Arabic), 2008.

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