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Water and Food Security in the Arab Countries: National and Regional Implications

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Water and food security issues appear to be of particular concern for Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries where natural resources are under climate and population stress. The paper intends to analyse water and food security issues in the SEMCs and their domestic and regional implications. The water-food nexus explains how water consumption is strictly linked to the production, consumption and trading system of agro-food products. The trade liberalisation process imposed by the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) has fostered a specialisation in highly water-intensive agricultural products, such as fruit and vegetables. The dependence on imports for basic foodstuffs related to this production pattern make SEMCs particularly vulnerable to price fluctuation on international markets, and this situation had particular political repercussions during the global food crisis of 2008 and 2011, somehow contributing to the outburst of the Arab Spring. Water and food security are here explored in a geopolitical dimension. Demographic pressure and climatic hazards, in recent years, have strongly undermined water and food security in the region, creating the conditions for ever-stronger competition for water and land. The paper intends to present some competition scenarios relating to both large international water basins and fossil water aquifers shared by various countries; and it also discusses another important driver of change in SEMCs: the explosion of land deals (land grabbing). Facing global challenges - climatic change, demographic growth, human pressure over natural resources, global food crisis, competition over land and water - it is vital for SEMCs to improve water and food security, developing a new 'green revolution' able to restore the capacity of land and water in order to regenerate their service over time, and creating the conditions for a long-term resilient agriculture.
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Keywords: SEMCs; Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries; climate change; geopolitical issues; political unrest; water and food security

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2014

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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