By Roberto Lenton, Founding Executive Director, Water for Food Global Institute
Two upcoming books by Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellows illuminate the challenges of ensuring food and water security in Central and Southwest Asia and the Middle East, where growing demands for water and food supplies have been aggravated by conflicts and civil unrest as well as growing climatic extremes.
“Transboundary Water Resources in Afghanistan,” by WFI Faculty Fellow Jack Shroder, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Geology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, provides an in-depth analysis of the water resources of Afghanistan and its neighbors. To be published by Elsevier, this book provides an overview of the hydrology of Afghanistan and its neighboring countries, a detailed examination of water management issues in the region and their future evolution, and specialized chapters on such subjects as climate change, data collection and international water law. The book aims to help policymakers in the region make better domestic water policies and, as importantly, interact more effectively with neighboring countries that share their water resources.
“Water Security and Peacebuilding in the Middle East: Essays in Scientific and Social Cooperation,” edited by WFI Faculty Fellow Jean Cahan, arose out of a WFI-supported symposium on water in the Middle East jointly organized and sponsored by the Harris Center for Judaic Studies and the Global Studies Program at UNL in 2014. The book, to be published by Anthem Press, provides an in-depth analysis of the linkages between water and social, political and philosophical issues in the Middle East. Written by some of the world’s most well-informed scholars and practitioners on water in the Middle East, the volume brings together several essays that incorporate a range of disciplinary perspectives, from the physical and natural sciences to philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, history, political science, sociology and economics.
Both books address the challenges faced by countries that share transboundary waters, where domestic policies aren’t enough to manage water resources and policymakers must work through international cooperation and transboundary water agreements. “Transboundary Water Resources in Afghanistan” explains how the waters emanating from Afghanistan intertwine with the development prospects of its neighbors Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, all of which have arid and semi-arid climates and depend heavily on irrigated agriculture for their food security. Likewise, “Water Security and Peacebuilding in the Middle East,” addresses a major question facing regional decision makers: whether the pursuit of greater water and food security will advance efforts towards cooperation and peacebuilding, or lead instead to further competition and conflict. This is a critical question for a region where drought often severely constrains food production, and where inadequate responses to drought are viewed by some analysts as contributing to violent conflicts and the creation of significant numbers of refugees that further stress scarce water supplies.
Both books illustrate the important ways that WFI works through Faculty Fellows at the University of Nebraska to address issues of global relevance, and helps develop policies and practices that have a positive impact on food and water security worldwide.