On 17 January, 19 January, 21 January and 22 January I featured papers from UCOWR's Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education's (JCWRE) special issue on Water and International Security. Here is the Introduction by issue editor Dr. David Kreamer.
Today I have another one: Water Modeling Technologies: A Key to Unlocking Water Conflict in the Middle East? by Al-Sharif Nasser Bin Nasser.
You'll be able to read Bin Nasser's paper and download a PDF free of charge here.
Several cases of armed conflict in the Middle East have a root cause in competition over resources, with water being the focus of conflict. Water will increasingly become a critical trigger for future conflict as supplies become scarcer and as population pressures continue to grow. With existing talks between riparian countries surrounding the Jordan River and the Tigris-Euphrates Basins either being absent or ineffective, there is a pressing need to develop a new approach to resolve water issues in the Middle East. In this context, water modeling technologies may offer a new and unique tool for regional discussions.
What struck me was his statement (p. 14, first paragraph, right column):
The use of modeling and simulation technologies has been a hitherto overlooked concept in Middle East hydro-politics.
I am incredulous. What with all the mediation and study of Middle Eastern hydropolitics no one has thought to try system dynamics-based collaborative modeling (CM; aka shared vision planning or mediated modeling)? But Bin Nasser should know; he's on the ground there.
I'm thinking that perhaps CM has been tried but failed (a distinct possibility) and that no one has bothered to report on a method that failed. Who wants to write a paper or report about failure? There is nothing wrong with that - it would certainly help others - but you don't get gold stars or tenure for writing about a failed approach (although someone else might).
When I was working in the South Caucasus' Kura-Araks Basin I thought that CM might be helpful. I even went so far as to have a student of mine, Alyssa Neir, conduct a two-day workshop on SD modeling. But we did not get beyond that phase, for reasons unrelated to conflict.
Here is some previous information on collaborative modeling: an executive summary from an AWRA conference I chaired in JUne 2011 and a detailed CM handout. The work of Suzanne Pierce in this JCWRE issue might be appropriate.
Seems like something that needs to be tried. What do we have to lose?