By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Jordan has been listed third among countries at risk for water insecurity, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The Security Risk Index, issued by risk analysts and mapping group Maplecroft yesterday, rated Jordan third among 18 countries at “extreme water-security risk”, with 15 of the countries located in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

Mauritania and Kuwait were listed as the top two countries in the region at risk for conflict over water resources, followed by Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Niger, Iraq, Oman, the UAE, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Djibouti, Tunisia and Algeria.

The report warned that extreme water security risks across the MENA region may lead to further spikes in global oil prices and heightened political tensions in the future.

Reliance on trans-boundary water supplies in the region poses a significant risk to countries in the region, the report said, citing multiple water claims to the Jordan River as an example.

The report, published on the Maplecroft website, stressed that as water becomes scarcer in the MENA region, each country will be encouraged to safeguard its supplies by taking measures others may view as provocative, potentially exacerbating or sparking conflict.

Water expert and University of Jordan Professor Elias Salameh said that already the fourth water-poorest nation in the world, population growth in the Kingdom is likely to continue to place pressure on its already limited water resources.

“Jordan has a population of 6.3 million people. The water resources are insufficient to either meet people’s needs or develop our industries and protect food security,” Salameh said.

Despite demographic tensions, Salameh said water conflicts are unlikely to erupt in the region, noting that existing regional water agreements aim to prevent such conflicts.
In its index, Maplecroft calculated water security by measuring countries’ water stress, population rates, reliance on external water supplies, sustainability and intensity of water use, government effectiveness, and the water intensity of imported goods such as food and oil.

Water Security Risk Index

Rank Country Rating

1 Mauritania Extreme
2 Kuwait Extreme
3 Jordan Extreme
4 Egypt Extreme
5 Israel Extreme
Source: Maplecroft