Saturday, August 06, 2005

Arab Water Council Formed, Expecting Aid from UNESCO.

Egypt Today - Full Story:

"If issues concerning water scarcity, quality and management are not properly addressed, Egypt will be confronted with a major food and water crisis by the year 2025, Abu Zeid says.

"Limited water resources have been a problem since 1959, but until now we have been able to cope with the situation. The exponential population growth we have witnessed during the past two decades has, however, made the situation critical. We will not be able to meet the increased demand unless we tap into new resources and change our consumption patterns, he adds..........

"Where is it all going to come from? No one seems to know, but Abu Zeid, arguably one of the most active ministers in Cabinet, cant be accused of taking matters lightly. He has recently launched a number of initiatives including water conservation projects, public education and awareness campaigns, and water research programs. On the regional level, he has been actively courting both the African Nile Basin countries and (more recently) our Arab neighbors, trying to spark a dialogue on the regions water resources problem.

"Some Nile Basin countries, meanwhile, are rattling their diplomatic sabers, claiming Egypt already takes too much of the Niles precious water. A revision of the colonial 1929 and 1959 agreements, they claim, is absolutely in order.

"The result: Access to fresh water has quickly become one of the nations top national security issues.

"Sixty-seven percent of the total fresh water resources in the Arab world come from outside the region, says Abu Zeid, touching on the very issue analysts say should be sounding alarm bells in Egypts National Security Council. Pundits are predicting that while wars are now being influenced by and fought over oil, nations will fight over water in the not terribly distant future.........

"After years of careful maneuvering, Abu Zeid finally hosted a regional meeting of Arab government officials, water specialists and international donor agencies in Cairo this past April. The result: the launch of the Arab Water Council (AWC)..........

"The 450 or so delegates at the AWCs founding assembly struck a committee with members drawn from all 22 Arab nations to return a final framework agreement and bylaws to the full group within a year.

"Although the AWC will have government officials among its members, we want this organization to deal with society more than anything else, which is why we shied away from the original council of ministers idea in the Arab League, Abu Zeid explains..........

"Funding for the AWC should come largely from the World Bank, UNESCO and the UNDP, as well as Saudi Arabias Islamic Development Bank, which has funded a number of large-scale water projects in Africa and Asia since 1976. But Abu Zeid is adamant that Arab governments kick in as well by earmarking more funds for both projects and water science research."


Nabil El-Khodari said...

The Arab Water Council - disguised as a not-for-profit organization - is a trial to destroy civil society.

If you UNESCO supports such an organization, it should be only if it changed its legal entity to an inter-governmental organization as it should be to start with.

Visit the The Arab Water Council: An assault on civil society


Dr. Nabil El-Khodari
Founder, Nile Basin Society

John Daly said...

I do not know if UNESCO supports this initiative. The article says only that the AWC directors are hoping for UNESCO support.

I don't really understand Nabil El-Khodari's comment. The Egypt Today article suggests that the Arab Water Council was created to deal with the international aspects of water resources in the region, not to destroy civil society.

I would point out that there is a distinction between civil society and the non-profit sector. Indeed, many international organizations are non-profit but have government officials responsible for their governance. Such organizations would include the World Bank and the United Nations. They are clearly non-profit, but would seldom be considered civil society!

Anonymous said...

I've read that the Arab Water Council will be cooperating with the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS), especially in regards to the UNDP's work, for Integrated Water Resource Management

Previously, I've read that the US-headquartered corporate body known as Bechtel has been making a miserable failure in Iraq, despite the millions of dollars they are payed from the USAID coffer, as if for restoring water facilities, etc (ref: Public Citizen, with Dahr Jamali).

Though I am not sure as for whether the AWC would be focusing about Iraq, yet after reading of Bechtel's costly non-operation and the sore state of the water and sanitation systems in Iraq, I hope that the AWC will take it up. Maybe the Iraqi government would have enough sovereignty, ever, to consult with the AWC, for it.

I presume that the AWC would be able to do far better than Bechtel, Inc. I know not whom to address this to, however. I though that I would at least suggest it, here.

So to speak, Bechtel has been riding a USAID gravy-train bucket. I've heard that they are notorious around the world, also, and rather worked-in with the US executive (and probably, also with the legislative) administration.

If Bechtel would ever think of the UNDP's IWRM and any allied agency as being the making of "competition", yet I presume that one need not be concerned, for this.

Separately, I've just found out, tonight, about the UNDP's work in regards to water resource management. I'm very glad to have heard of it, and that of the AWC, also. It is very inspiring.

I'd not expected that UNESCO might become involved with the AWC; hoo-ray if they will. UNESCO appears to be far more dynamic than I had known.

With a spot of water, cheers, and thank you.