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With increasing pressure on natural resources in the Near East, and considering the regional dimension of water resources development and management, the need for reliable and systematic information on water, its quality and its use is increasingly recognized as being of prime importance for sustainable economic development in the region.

In 1993, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations initiated a programme, known as AQUASTAT, to meet the demand for information on water resources and its use at regional level, with particular emphasis on irrigation. The objectives of the AQUASTAT programme are to collect and present, in a systematic way, data on rural water use at country level.

The Near East Region has a concentration of most of the complex water allocation issues of the world. With a population of about 560 million inhabitants, or 10% of the world's population, increasing at a rate of 2.7% per year, it receives only 3.5% of the world's precipitation and has as little as 2.2% of its renewable water resources. Considering that more than 90% of the water withdrawal in the Near East is used for irrigation, and in view of the increasing importance of joint management of water resources, reliable information on agricultural water use at regional level is of critical importance. This is why FAO decided to launch a special AQUASTAT survey for the Near East Region.

This publication presents a description of the rural water situation in the 29 countries represented by FAO's Regional Office for the Near East, with relevant tables and maps, and a regional synopsis emphasizing the sub-regional characteristics of this large and diverse region. It is hoped that the information provided here will be of use to all those working for sustainable water resources development in the region.


This report was prepared and written with the collaboration of a large number of individuals. It is a joint activity of FAO's Land and Water Development Division (AGL) and its Regional Office for the Near East (RNE).

The whole project was coordinated and managed by Karen Frenken, acting as main author and editor of the survey, in collaboration with Jean-Marc Faurès and Mathieu Bousquet, from the AQUASTAT team of the Land and Water Development Division of FAO in Rome. Coordination of the project at the Regional Office for the Near East was carried out by Selim Sarraf, Regional Water Resources and Management Officer.

Country surveys were carried out in cooperation with national experts: Waleed Al-Zubari, Mohamed Abdelmonem El-Nahal, Karim Shiati, Hazim el Naser, Khalid Masabahi, Adib Salim Geadah, Tony Misfud, Asadullah Taqi, George Soumi, Huseyin Yavuz, Abdelkader Hamdane, Mohamed Saqr Al-Asam and Nasser Mohamed Nasser.

The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance provided by Jean Margat and Philippe Pallas in reviewing all the information related to water resources. Valuable contributions were also received from Azad Azad, and colleagues from the Land and Water Development Division of FAO. The data processing software was developed by Dario Berardi and Mauro de Castro. Data processing was performed by Marco Tagliaferri.

The publication has been edited by Jennifer Ann Parkinson and prepared for printing by Chrissi Smith Redfern, Edoardo Buricchi and Franco Buricchi.


1 km³ = 1 x 109 m³ = 1 000 x 10 6 m³
1 km² = 100 hectares
1 dunum = 0.10 hectare
1 feddan = 0.42 hectare
1 acre = 0.4046 hectare

The information presented in this publication is collected from a variety of sources. It reflects FAO's best estimates, based on the most accurate and up-to-date information available at the date of printing.

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