The Inventory of Shared Water Resources in Western Asia is the first systematic effort to catalogue and characterize shared surface water and groundwater systems throughout the Western Asia region. Its main purpose is to provide a sound scientific basis for informing discussion and fostering dialogue on these precious resources that have become increasingly important to sustain development in an era of growing demand and dwindling supply. To do so, the Inventory identifies all shared water resource systems within the Western Asia region and provides a comprehensive, descriptive analysis of each basin based on the following guiding questions:

  • Where are the shared water resources?
  • What is the status of these resources, at present and in a historical context?
  • How is the water being used?
  • What cooperative arrangements and structures are in place?

Agriculture in the area of Azraq, Jordan, 2008. Source: David L. Kennedy, Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East.

The result is a comprehensive reference document of shared surface and groundwater resources in Western Asia. The 9 surface water chapters and 17 groundwater chapters systematically address:

  • Hydrology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Water resources development and use
  • International water agreements
  • Transboundary water management efforts

The chapters cover all rivers and groundwater resources shared between Arab countries in the Middle East and include data on water resources that are shared with Iran, Israel and Turkey.

ESCWA member countries have been involved in all stages of preparation of the Inventory. This consultative process mainly took place through the ESCWA Committee on Water Resources, which is an intergovernmental committee composed of senior technical and managerial staff of sector ministries in ESCWA member countries responsible for water resources management. The committee meets biannually and approves the regional commission’s work programme in the water sector. The recommendations of the Committee are subsequently reviewed and approved by the ESCWA Technical Committee and the ESCWA Ministerial Session, which is the Commission’s highest political body.

Mukalla, Yemen, 2000. Source: Kebnekaise.

The Inventory is aimed at a wide readership of experts from water- and environment-related sectors, including decision makers, government representatives, academia, donors, specialized agencies, international and non-governmental organizations.

The 'Introduction to the Inventory' chapter provides information on the rationale, methodology and work process lying at the base of the study. It thoroughly describes the different production phases comprising the early stages of preparation and research, the approach followed for the identification of basins and map production, and the subsequent drafting and review process including the involvement of member countries. This chapter ends with a short reader’s guide to the Inventory presenting its overall structure and the way the basin chapters are organized.