Research in Two Case Studies: Irrigation and Land Use in the Fergana Valley and Water Management in the Lower Jordan Valley

Christine Bismuth, Sebastian Hoechstetter, and Oliver Bens

Abstract This chapter aims to present an overview of the two case studies “Irrigation and land use in the Fergana Valley” and “Water management in the Lower Jordan Valley”. It names the main criteria and reasons for their selection as cases in the study of implications of major water engineering projects. The political and cultural conditions in these regions and the major issues and problems concerning water management are outlined in broad terms.

Keywords Fergana Valley • Lower Jordan Valley • Central Asia • Irrigation • Land use • Water management • Major water engineering projects • Red Sea • Dead Sea Conveyance Project • Study of alternatives • World Bank

Selection of the Case Studies: A Wide Spectrum of Socio-Economic and Ecological Framework Conditions

There are many examples and varying types of major water engineering projects (MWEPs) over the globe. The range of related technologies, resource challenges, impacts and the political and governance systems that such projects are embedded into is equally wide. In order to cover as many practical and theoretical aspects and framework settings of MWEPs, we have decided to select two case studies: the Uzbek parts of the Fergana Valley in Central Asia and the Lower Jordan Valley in the Middle East, which entail a broad range of issues that are relevant to the comprehensive evaluation of major water engineering projects. Furthermore, the selection of the case studies reflects the competences and experiences of the contributors to this volume, which has improved the accessibility to information and data.

The case studies cover the most prominent issues being discussed throughout the world when it comes to the implementation of MWEPs, including issues of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), water governance, the “foodwater-energy nexus”, ecosystem services, issues of transboundary water management, the challenges posed by climate change, political/governance instruments and societal transformation.

Both case studies are located in geopolitical hot spots, where water appears both as a source of conflict and as an occasion for cooperation. Each of the case studies reflects the weaknesses of the international law and regulations with concern to transboundary management issues. Both regions are affected by climate change with mainly negative consequences on water availability. Societal issues, political transformations and the consequences of historical decisions characterise current water management systems in the selected regions. Very different approaches are pursued in the case studies with regard to solutions for overcoming water shortages, securing energy and producing food. The regions illustrate the significant impact of state and governmental failures on the water management. In addition, the lessons learned so far both in the Fergana Valley and in the Lower Jordan Valley reveal that many problems of water management cannot be solved only within the water management sector in its own narrow definitions, but that they have to be tackled from a more general societal and economic perspective.

The Red Sea–Dead Sea (RSDS) Conveyance Project in the Middle East offers the opportunity to study a major project in its planning phase. In many countries other than Israel and Jordan respectively, seawater desalination will be a major strategy in the future for overcoming water shortages. Therefore, the Lower Jordan Valley case study may be perceived as being exemplary for countries under similar conditions. The Fergana Valley case study focuses on past decisions and the resulting path dependencies; this shows how consequences of technically driven decisions have to be dealt with by following generations.

Information and material on the case studies was collected with comprehensive literature research and analysis. In 2014, a research journey to the Fergana Valley was carried out by several authors of this volume with the support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The central Fergana Valley irrigation systems and the role of the water users associations (WUAs) were in the focus of this research visit. Discussions with local stakeholders and decision makers and the exchange with researchers from Central Asia provided valuable insight into the regional situation.

With regard to the case study of the Lower Jordan Valley, an international workshop on the RSDS project with Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian experts was organised in 2013. A research trip to Jordan was carried out for the preparation of this workshop, its results eventually being presented to and discussed with members of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In addition, a number of Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian experts have been interviewed.

The outcome of these extensive discussions, studies and meetings will be presented in Parts III and IV of this volume. In the following, we will provide a brief overview of the situation in the two case study regions and illustrate their similarities and differences.

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