Since late 1040’s, water resource management in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Qatar, the occupied Palestinian territories and Western Sahara “former Spanish Sahara”) faced several negative impacts as a result of asymmetric power relations, volatile political situations, political instabilities with periodic/continuous conflicts and wars. Under such conditions water policies were mainly focused on national short-term interests for securing supply and services with little, or even no, consideration to entire water cycle, e.g. the large-scale and long-term trans-boundary nature of the water resources in regions with shared rivers and/or shared groundwater resources. Furthermore, periodic conflicts and wars hindered developing appropriate economic-political instruments for efficient water-use and flexibility to manage long-term and large-scale supply and demand. Also, Integrated Water Resource Management “IWRM” for trans-boundary waters were lacking coherent policies of equitable and reasonable use, i.e. by being based on such factors as social and economic needs, size of population, access to other water sources, etc. The added-value to national and regional programs from several international donors involved in MENA water issues (the World Bank, UNDP and USAID) was therefore rather limited.
In addition to trans-boundary political conflicts, national governance is/was hampered by a lack of coherent laws, seemingly incompatible political interests, weak environmental legislation for over-exploitation of groundwater and over-consumption of water for irrigation with associated pollution and in-economic use of water. Pesticides, herbicides, industrial pollution, agricultural and household waste resulted in serious impacts on water quality, in addition to saline intrusion of the aquifers near the seas.