Allocating Water

Center pivot irrigation in Jordan, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Center pivot irrigation in Jordan, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Equitable sharing of water resources is a complex issue that has only become more so in recent years due to population growth, development pressures, and changing needs and values.  The unequal distribution of water is heightened by political changes, resource mismanagement, and climatic anomalies. These factors can trigger massive upheavals as well as demographic and developmental transformations, all of which, in turn, contribute to significant socio-economic differentiations. 

Growing competition between different sectors has placed increasing strain on the quality and quantity of freshwater supplies.  Competition for water also manifests in the demands for different uses – urban versus rural, quantity versus quality, present use versus future demand, and sanitation versus other social priorities.  Competition among uses and users has increased in almost all countries, as have the links connecting them, calling for more effective negotiation and allocation mechanisms. 

Implementation must address wise planning for water resources, availability and needs in watersheds, reallocation or storage expansion in existing reservoirs, increased emphasis on water demand management, and improved balance between equity and efficiency of use—all the while accounting for inadequate legislative and institutional frameworks coupled with the rising financial burden of aging infrastructures. 

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