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 중동경제연구소 Korea Institute of the Mideast Economies 

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Food Security and Water Resources in the Middle East

Dr. Seong Min Hong (KIME president)

Ⅰ. Forward

Ⅱ. The Characteristics of Food, Security, Crisis and Weapon

1. The characteristics of Food

2. Rising food prices had a substantial impact

3. What is food security?

4. Food Crisis

5. Food Weapon

Ⅲ. Food Prices and Crisis in the Middle East

1. Food Situation

2. Food Prices

3. Food Crisis

Ⅳ. Water Resources and Water Crisis in the Middle East

1. Water Resources

2. Water Scarcity

3. Water Conflict

4. Potential Water War

Ⅴ. Concluding Remark

* References


* This paper was read at The 7th AFMA Symposium by the title of "The Current Situation and Perspectives of Middle East and Northeast Asia" in Mongolia on 05-06 September, 2008. It was hosted by Mongolian Association of Middle East Studies,S chool of Foreign Service of National University of Mongolia. (This paper is not published. Thus I introduce the summery only.







      The Summery of Food Security and Water Resources in the Middle East

Afforestation and flood control had been a moral principal of wise lord in ancient oriental states. This means agriculture is the basis of national existence in agricultural society at that time because agriculture was linked directly with human life. Nowadays this virtue has been same standard rule of government.

According to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), soaring prices for food and fuel have pushed more than 130 million poor people across vast swaths of Africa, Asia and Latin America deeper into poverty in the past year. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified 36 "crisis" countries, 21 of which are in Africa. The World Food Program, another U.N. agency, estimates that it will need $500 million on top of what donor nations have already pledged to fill what the WFP calls a global "food gap."

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said stressing a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels on 3 July 2008. According to him, World agriculture will also have to address major challenges, like water control and climate change. More than 1.2 billion people today live in river basins with absolute water scarcity and the trend of increasing water shortages is worrisome, but sub-Saharan Africa is using only four percent of its renewable water resources. The world is losing 5-10 million hectares of agricultural land every year due to severe degradation, but in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia there is a great potential for expanding land under cultivation.

Ironically crisis of food and water shortage are concentrated developing countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa region that are mostly underdevelopment countries, rather than advanced countries. Really phenomenon many leaders of Arab and African countries have a hard time to govern the nation by reason of this.

Water resource is also connected with human life and agriculture directly. Moreover the issue of water shortage is mainly concerned with economic development that is accompanying more energy use. Hence it affects global climate change and environmental pollution. Nowadays climate change has been main factor to impede agricultural development. This paper deals with the examination of food security, food weapon and agricultural situation in the Middle East. Its aim will be concentrated on the water resources including water conflict and potential water war in the Middle East.

Forty years on, the world has undoubtedly benefited, but is also now perhaps reaping the consequences of that revolution. The rapid rise in food prices, particularly for grain, has left many poor people at risk from hunger, and for the first time since the 1970s, the world is consuming more than it produces. At the recent World Food Summit, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, stated that food output needs to rise by 50 per cent by 2030.

Moreover food has changed into a weapon. Kuwait Times (Aug. 3, 2008) accused Russia in the title of "Russia: Grains as political weapon". It mentioned Russia will have a difficult time using grain as a political weapon -as it has with energy - is that Russia does not supply any countries with grain that it would necessarily want to politically pressure or that could not turn elsewhere for grain supplies.

Surely the forthcoming world seems to change uncertainly. It will depend on various kinds of war and crisis in the world. Considering present hike in agricultural market that is linked with oil price, War will develop as water war rather than oil war and crisis will appear as a weapon that is food crisis rather than oil crisis. After the collapse of socialist states in the early of 1990s, the world has experienced free trade under WTO system since the middle of 1990s. However the resistance against free trade and globalization became to rise from the poor countries owing to dissatisfaction on distribution of wealth between advanced countries and developing countries. What is worse, this phenomenon has happened between rich class and poor class even within one country. Accordingly world system seems to change according to the speed of modernization in resources-rich countries including natural resources and human resources like China, Russia, India and oil rich Arab countries. In this context, the Middle East Arab countries and African countries will play a great role in the process of changing world order. They have huge energy resources and agricultural potential, though they are suffering from starvation. The change of weather will also play a role to develop their agricultural industry with the improvement of water scarcity.

Food is an essential material for human subsistence. Hence economic development in one country must be based on the basis of self-sufficiency of food. Today the advanced countries that had initiated the development based on self-sufficiency of food and independent national defense share in the benefits of developed civilization. After World War Ⅱ, the advanced countries felt necessity of self-sufficiency of food during wartime and has developed agricultural industry. Now they transformed into food -exporting countries. On the contrary underdeveloped countries have pursued export-oriented industry policy to catch up with modernization of industrialized countries. As a result, the former food-export countries as an agricultural state fell into food-import countries. The Middle East and African countries are typical examples. Traditionally these countries were agricultural stated in the long history of the world. Now these states have faced with serious problem of starvation, insufficient food, scarce of water following poor harvest, drought along with high price of oil and food. Leaders of some Arab and African countries have faced with challenge to political power. The only way to solve food problem in the Middle East is to develop agricultural industry and secure sufficient water supply by introducing advanced new technology under the support of international help and aid.


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Publisher: Korea Institute of the Mideast Economies (KIME). Editor: Dr. Seong Min HONG.

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