The water-energy-food nexus in the MENA region

Securities of the future

Authored by: Martin Keulertz , Tony Allan

Routledge Handbook on Middle East Security

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138749894
eBook ISBN: 9781315180113
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter will analyze the water-energy-food nexus in the MENA region from a water scarcity perspective. It will be shown that water security can be achieved at the municipal and industrial (energy) level, which mainly uses “small water”. The major challenge must be seen in food-water or “big water” availability, which is subject to scarcity aggravated by climate change. Trade-offs between the three sectors, water, energy and food, are limited due to increased population growth and further limited access to natural resources. This chapter will conceptualize water security from an urban/rural perspective. It will be argued that the nexus must be understood through a supply chain perspective. While water for urban and energy supply chains can be addressed with technology and policy reforms, water for food is a unique challenge, which can only be addressed strategically through virtual water imports. The chapter will conclude with policy recommendations on how to achieve urban, energy and food-water security in the decades to come.

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