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De instabiele waterhuishouding van de Arabische wereld

BERLIJN – Nergens is zoetwater schaarser dan in de Arabische wereld. De regio is thuis van de meeste waterarme staten of territoria ter wereld, waaronder Bahrein, Djibouti, Gaza, Jordanië, Koeweit, Libië, Qatar, Saudi-Arabië, en de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten. Dit tekort – uitvergroot door exploderende bevolkingscijfers, uitputting en aftakeling van natuurlijke ecosystemen, en onvrede onder de bevolking – werpt een donkere schaduw over de toekomst van deze landen.

De Arabische wereld heeft momenteel bepaald geen tekort aan uitdagingen. Gegeven het feit dat veel Arabische staten moderne inventies zijn bedacht door vertrekkende koloniale machten en daarom historische identiteit ontberen, hebben hun staatsstructuren geen stevige fundamenten. Tel dat op bij externe en interne spanningen  – inclusief door oplaaiend islamisme, burgeroorlogen, en massa-emigratie uit conflictgebieden – en de toekomst van verschillende Arabische landen lijkt onzeker.

Maar weinigen lijken in te zien hoe waterschaarste aan deze gewelddadige cyclus bijdraagt. Een sleuteloorzaak van de opstanden van de Arabische Lente – de stijgende voedselprijzen – was direct verbonden aan de verergerende watercrisis in de regio. Water vergroot ook de spanningen tussen landen onderling. Saudi-Arabië en Jordanië bijvoorbeeld zijn verwikkeld in een stille race om het door hun gedeelde al-Disi waterreservoir af te tappen.

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