The water-energy nexus in the Middle East: Infrastructure, development, and conflict

Journal Article (Review;Journal)

Water and energy are closely linked in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through coupled networks of infrastructure. This review explores the water-energy nexus of infrastructure to explicate different patterns of development and de-development in the MENA. First, the review highlights why states, donors, and firms have long built large-scale coupled water-energy infrastructures to provide urban services, expand irrigated agriculture, and foster development. Yet, too often the adverse social and environmental impacts from the construction of dams, water conveyance structures, groundwater mining, and desalination plants have been overlooked. We then examine the water-energy nexus through infrastructure for the most important users of water and energy in the MENA region: urban populations and the agricultural sector. Third, the review illustrates that while investments in water and energy infrastructure generated significant gains in human development for much for of the region, the post-2011 wars reversed many of these development gains in conflict-affected countries through the destruction and deterioration of water-energy infrastructures. The unprecedented displacement of populations within and across borders has also created new challenges for host communities, where infrastructures for providing water and energy services were already overstretched. The review further highlights the growing role of humanitarian assistance in providing water and energy services to refugees, internally displaced populations, and host communities. Overall, this review examines how the nexus of water and energy infrastructure shapes human security, livelihoods, and political economies in the MENA region. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Water Governance Engineering Water > Planning Water.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Weinthal, E; Sowers, J

Published Date

  • July 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 4

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2049-1948

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/wat2.1437

Citation Source

  • Scopus