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Development Account Projects

Strengthening National Capacities to Manage Water Scarcity and Drought in West Asia and North Africa


As the incidence of water scarcity and droughts increases in frequency and intensity due to climate change, there are severe adverse implications for sustainable development, in particular for countries and regions in transition settings. Impacts include decreased agricultural production and increased food insecurity, famine, and loss of human life. These issues not only affect human livelihood and hinder sustainable development but also obstruct peacebuilding efforts as well as carry the risk of invoking repeated violent conflicts. Further, current responses to water scarcity and drought in countries in transition settings tend towards reactive government and international “emergency responses,” often without incorporating methods that support conflict prevention and peacebuilding strategies. To this end, drought planning, monitoring and implementation in water scarce and in transition settings countries can be significantly enhanced through shifting drought response from reactive emergency responses to proactive, sustainable, preventative solutions that incorporate measures to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

Drought has become a more frequent and major threat to human security in most of the Arab countries in transition settings and located in arid and semi-arid areas of North Africa and West Asia where rainfall is low and its distribution is very variable, especially during the last three decades in the region. This area is also host to various local, national and international conflicts and violence. The responses to severe drought in the region’s countries are ex-post (reactive) and tend to emphasize the emergency relief, take effect after or during drought events and do not incorporate methods that support water conflict prevention. The project’s main objective is to strengthen the capacities of national planners, policy makers and stake-holders in water-scarce countries in transition settings in West Asia/North Africa to enhance their effectiveness in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of conflict-sensitive ex-ante (proactive) drought management strategies. These will contribute to building resilience and preparedness as well as reduce the risk, mitigate the severity, and speed up the response to severe droughts by reducing water scarcity and competition in addition to preventing water conflict.

The project responds to a call for urgent action from the Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development and the Outcome Document (The Future We Want) on taking effective measures to deal with drought and water scarcity as well as developing disaster risk reduction and community resilience. The project will employ means such as technology transfer, capacity building, regional support initiatives and extension training programmes to address these areas, the need for all of which is also asserted in the Outcome Document (The Future We Want). Further, this project will serve to forward the Secretary General’s Five-Year Action Agenda as announced in January 2012, which highlights support for countries in transition as one of the top five priorities for the next five years. Moreover, it responds to decisions taken by the seventeenth session of the


To strengthen the capacities of national planners, policy makers and stakeholders in water-scarce and in transition settings countries in West Asia/North Africa, and to enhance their effectiveness in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of conflict-sensitive ex-ante (proactive) drought management strategies

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased awareness and knowledge of tools and methodologies for national planners, policymakers and stakeholders in transition settings’ countries to develop conflict-sensitive ex-ante drought management plans.
  • Increased capacity of institutions in project’s pilot countries in West Asia and North Africa to develop and implement conflict-sensitive ex-ante drought management plans

Implementation status:

In progress.