This research project investigates the way in which certain states have succeeded in overcoming serious water stress and studies the lessons that can be learnt from their experiences. It aims to show that from these lessons and experiences an effective system of thought can be constructed, which could then be utilised to inform and instruct decision makers in countries that find themselves entering the ‘crunch-zone’ of serious water stress.
The study is divided into four parts. First, a theoretical and analytical framework is developed, which encompasses recent thinking from both northern and southern social scientists and sets out a broad analytical framework for the remainder of the study. The analysis is necessarily broad in scope to illustrate the key global shifts that have influenced policy in the different countries and which continue to have a profound impact on decision making at all levels.
Part two examines in detail the regional resource contexts in which the four countries are situated – Israel and Jordan in the Middle East, Zimbabwe and South Africa in southern Africa - outlining the histories of resource development, periods of social and physical scarcity and the broader policy contexts of changing approaches to resource development. This wider view helps to draw outcomes of the critical resource issues that are key to national level policy making, an important part of which is situating national dilemmas in the context of regional resource stress.
Part three details the national experience of the four countries. Looking at water availability, socio-economic issues, institutional environments and policy options, this section analyses the resource contexts in relation to wider developmental goals—including poverty reduction—and concludes with ‘balance sheets’ for resource availability and food needs for each state. This analysis begins the process of narrowing down the output to essential elements surrounding the concept of ‘virtual water’, central to understanding the output of the study.
Finally, the fourth part applies the analytical framework developed in the first part to the case study material and, from this analysis, develops a decision support model, named FoRWaRD, that aims to create the conditions for greater decision making capacity and for the identification of future resources constraints and policy options based on the development of scenarios. It is hoped that this decision support model can be piloted in one or two situations in the near future to assess its ease of use, complexity of data and capacity to enhance real-time decision making.