The Disruptive Energy of Open-Supply Water Knowledge: The Case of the Euphrates-Tigris Basin


by means of Arda Bilgen

Marsh Arabs poling a conventional mashoof within the marshes of southern Iraq, April 2003. Supply: Wiki CC

Contradictory Knowledge on Floor Water Flows

The politics of water within the Euphrates-Tigris Basin has been marked by means of other classes of cooperation, disagreement, and compromise between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq for the reason that early Nineteen Twenties. For many years, components similar to, inter alia, world geopolitical contexts (e.g., the Chilly Struggle), regional conflicts (e.g., the Syrian Civil Struggle), nationwide developmental aspirations (e.g., speedy agro-industrialisation), and water insurance policies (e.g., hydraulic project) have formed the character and course of transboundary water family members within the basin.

Certainly, tracking the common per thirty days and annual waft information of the Euphrates and the Tigris at main issues, together with at shared borders, has been an integral a part of every riparian nation’s water coverage. In spite of this, they have got incessantly launched information in a limited or selective way, disseminating contradictory figures that most effective in part replicate the hydrological processes going down within the basin.

There may be nonetheless no consensus, as an example, on the yearly reasonable waft of the Euphrates and the Tigris issuing downstream from the Turkish border. For various classes of time, estimates for the Euphrates have ranged from 28.1 billion cubic meters (BCM) to 30.5 BCM, 31.4 BCM, 31.43 BCM, 31.8 BCM, and 32 BCM. Estimates for the Tigris, alternatively, have various from 16.8 BCM to 18.87 BCM, 21.3 BCM, 22.1 BCM, and 24 BCM. Nonetheless, plentiful research point out a common pattern of declining water provide of each rivers due essentially to the results of local weather exchange, main hydraulic infrastructure initiatives advanced within the basin, and each.

Variations between the estimated flows, in addition to additional adjustments within the flows, raise contentious penalties for basin politics. In home politics, the figures decide how riparian nations utilise water for irrigation, power era, and business and home use. In world politics, the figures tell how the nations broaden their international coverage in opposition to every different and world third-party actors. Due to this fact, the accuracy, comparison, and transparency of the waft information is of the most important significance for the improvement and development of cooperative family members on and thru water.

World Floor Water Knowledge: Reflections

In our PeaceRep venture at the implications of adjusting floor water patterns within the Euphrates-Tigris Basin for water governance in Iraq, we take a contemporary manner to conquer the obstacles relating to information availability, consistency, high quality, and use when learning the basin. We essentially use the World Floor Water Explorer, the open-source water dataset advanced by means of the Ecu Fee’s Joint Analysis Centre, to map the positioning and temporal distribution of water surfaces within the basin between 1984–2021. The instrument shows herbal and synthetic water surfaces which might be visual from area, and offers information on floor water incidence, floor water seasonality, floor water recurrence, and so forth.

We then crosscheck this information with professional hydrological information launched by means of the governments of Turkey and Iraq and with non-official information launched by means of world establishments such because the Meals and Agriculture Group and the UN Economics and Social Fee for Western Asia. We in any case triangulate this information with number one information accrued via interviews with Turkish and Iraqi governmental officers, non-governmental professionals, lecturers, and reporters.

The usage of the World Floor Water information with different quantitative and qualitative information resources has supplied us with positive benefits that may additionally advantage researchers learning now not simply the Euphrates-Tigris Basin, but additionally different transboundary river basins world wide.

The World Floor Water information has allowed us to higher perceive the hydrological context of key occasions in the historical past of transboundary water family members, and determine more potent linkages between the hydrology and hydro-politics of the basin. It has allowed us to interpret vital milestones, such because the filling of the Atatürk Dam within the past due Nineteen Eighties, the start of irrigated farming at the Harran Undeniable within the mid-Nineteen Nineties, the keep watch over of water infrastructures by means of ISIS within the mid-2010s, and the outlet of the Ilısu Dam within the past due 2010s, from a brand new viewpoint.

The World Floor Water information has supplied us with the chance to delve deeper into the dynamic dating between (herbal and anthropogenic) hydrological adjustments within the basin and the trajectory of politico-diplomatic family members between the riparian nations. It has helped us convey extra correct explanations as to why some professional bilateral and trilateral conferences at the rivers (e.g., the Joint Technical Committee conferences, Prime-level Strategic Cooperation Council conferences) and unofficial talks (e.g., casual professional conferences, Monitor II diplomatic efforts) have succeeded whilst others have failed.

The World Floor Water information has additionally given us the danger to validate the ability of hydraulic infrastructures in (re-)shaping nature and (re-)distributing energy now not simply the place they’re initiated, however way past that. It has allowed us to revisit the basin vast political and ecological implications of enormous ‘venture bundles’ similar to the South-eastern Anatolia Mission (GAP) in Turkey, in addition to particular person dam initiatives similar to the Mosul Dam in Iraq.


Overcoming the issue of contradictory, ambiguous, and lacking information at the floor flows of the Euphrates and the Tigris will also be the most important step forward for the way forward for transboundary water family members within the basin. With its the most important contribution on this regard, the World Floor Water information can validate or debunk the claims made by means of upstream and downstream nations about how a lot floor water is to be had of their territories, how a lot floor water flows via their borders, and what kind of water is saved in the back of their reservoirs. This, in flip, can create an atmosphere conducive to clear and just right religion negotiations on problems relating to water- and benefit-sharing. The other can occur too. Due to this fact, as our initial findings additionally display, the discharge and move of open-source floor water information has a disruptive energy, sporting the possible to switch the established order in transboundary settings. We predict {that a} extra rigorous mapping of adjusting floor water flows to Iraq will let us extra appropriately read about the character and extent of problems associated with water governance throughout borders, areas, and sectors.

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