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Research Report

Water, crises and conflict in MENA:: how can water service providers improve their resilience?

Loan Diep
Tim Hayward
Anna Walnycki
Marwan Husseiki
Linus Karlsson
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2017
Pages: 72
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 9-12)

    Waves of conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have left an estimated 56.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance (UNICEF 2017e). The conflicts and resulting political and economic crises have physically affected entire societies with casualties and infrastructure damage, as well as causing the displacement of 22 to 24 million people (IOM 2016). The protracted nature of conflicts has reduced governments’ and communities’ abilities to cope with cumulative impacts over time. These have increased the burden on already-vulnerable water systems and have cast a shadow over the region’s development.

    The conflict in Syria alone has...

  2. (pp. 13-18)

    Here, ‘vulnerability’ is referred to as the state of susceptibility to harm from exposure to shocks and stresses, and from the absence of capacity to adapt (Béné et al. 2012; Adger 2006). In the context of this research, exploring ways for service providers to strengthen resilience (and by extension service provision systems) requires the identification of these pre-existing vulnerabilities. The following are the range of pre-existing challenges in MENA which we identified.

    MENA has been one of the most arid regions of the planet for several thousand years (Greenwood 2014). Today, the region is home to about 6 per cent...

  3. (pp. 19-23)

    The nature of crises in affected areas which are served by particular water systems have determined the nature of the responses by different actors – many of which were new actors who intervened to support local providers. Some responses highlighted below are directly relevant to zones of conflicts where bombing has caused casualties and damaged infrastructure, whereas other responses are more relevant to zones of migration. The paper is centred on the resilience of formal service providers (ie utilities that are either state or privately owned) but given the important part they play in service provision other actors’ roles are...

  4. (pp. 24-30)

    This chapter aims to analyse the range of initiatives undertaken by service providers through a resilience perspective. It explores the difficulties faced by different actors in responding quickly. It also analyses how responses can help service providers to be more resilient, and questions the extent to which such responses have been able to address pre-existing vulnerabilities or prevent them from increasing.

    In many countries, the absence of contingency plans to safeguard infrastructure and equipment from exhaustion has led to the lack of availability of alternative watersupply mechanisms, emergency wells, or the lack of spare equipment and materials on several occasions....

  5. (pp. 31-36)

    This chapter describes examples of resilience and successful adaptation practices that have enabled both rapid response during emergency and stabilisation/development where embedded issues are addressed. In this last case, these examples aim to highlight how utilities and actors supporting service provision have attempted to break cycles of vulnerability. Resilient utilities have been able to provide immediate responses to shocks, thereby needing less external support.

    Resilience is assessed through the perspectives of sustainability, equity and resource efficiency. While some measures taken might have enabled sustaining service provision, such measures would not be resilient if not economically, socially and environmentally sustainable over...

  6. (pp. 37-39)

    Our study has identified and analysed a wide range of responses that have been made throughout the MENA region to ensure that populations impacted by various crises over recent years have access to at least an acceptable level of water service provision. Some responses have worked well and others less so.

    The key lessons learnt and summarised below are aimed to be applicable not only to the traditional short-term emergency response of humanitarian organisations, but also the medium- to long-term more structural support to utilities that also helps to build resilience (both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’).

    Emergency plans and contingency stocks...