Contexts Matter: A Hydropolitical Analysis of Blue Nile and Yarmouk River Basins

Hussam Hussein, Mattia Grandi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Transboundary surface water is of strategic importance in the Arab world as it accounts for over two thirds of the renewable water in the region. Despite most
shared waters have their source outside the Arab countries, no basin-wide agreements exist over the use, allocation and management of the main transboundary rivers in the region: the Nile, the Jordan, and the Tigris and Euphrates. This paper investigates the intra-basin hydro-political relations in the dynamic contexts of Yarmouk and Blue Nile rivers. In both cases, the lack of a shared vision on the management of transboundary waters has resulted in unilateral initiatives rather than comprehensive and agreed legal frameworks. Adopting a broader problemshed approach rather than a narrow watershed one, this paper captures the interests and reasons of such dynamic contexts, and analyses how recent changes impact on the transboundary water management of shared basins. In particular, the relevance of including power analysis into the assessment of water-related negotiations will shed light over competing interests and political asymmetries, which ultimately affect the processes of water allocation and use. The insights provided by evidence-based assumptions over the dynamic and often conflictive process of water governance formation in the two cases considered will disclose alternative perspectives to the (mainstream) analyses of water management, in the attempt to situate specific hydro-political dynamics in the regional evolving contexts of the cases selected. The intra-basin interactions that emerge from the analysis will uncover
some of the neglected issues in the literature over transboundary water
management, while contributing at the same time to the search for solutions to
the current water disputes in the two case studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Water Studies in the Arab Region
Subtitle of host publicationState of the Art and Perspectives
EditorsManar Fayyad, Serena Sandri, Matthias Weiter, Dimitrios Zikos
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherZerbe Druck & Werbung
ISBN (Print)3-936602-74-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • hydropolitics
  • transboundary water interactions
  • Nile River Basin
  • Yarmouk River
  • power asymmetries

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