1.1 Introduction

The need for fresh water in countries in the Middle East has recently reached desperate parameters and governments are consulting with key players to look into ways to provide fresh water.  Most of the countries in the Middle East are deserts and the general realization is that the only places where water can be found are; from the sea, at various oasis and digging of boreholes. The water obtained through such methods cannot sufficiently meet the needs of the citizens and the industries alike. In addition, the water is usually too salty for drinking making the situation even worse.

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1.2 Relevant Considerations

Although various approaches have been proposed, there are key considerations that need to be placed into perspective before embarking propositions. The first consideration is the extent to which the proposed method will solve the problem of lack of fresh water. Fresh water is needed in large quantities in Middle East not just for human consumption but also for other purposes such as farming and industrial purposes. Therefore, the method should at least have the capacity of providing enough water to significantly address the problem. The second consideration is the cost effectiveness of the proposed methods. The proposed method should be practical in terms of monetary aspects so that the water can reach even the poorest of families. The third consideration is the sustainability of the proposed method. The proposed method should have the capacity to provide water continuously for extended periods of time without hindrances.  These are the major considerations and when a method satisfies the considerations then countries can proceed and structure implementation strategies. The following report will look at some of the feasibility of some of the proposed fresh water provision techniques in Iraq. Iraq has been chosen due to its central geographical position, so that the findings can be extrapolated to other countries with ease. Iraq is also not connected to the coast and as such it would present many difficulties in implementing water provision techniques.


Table 1 provides a list of some of the proposed techniques including the ones that have already been implemented.




Harvesting Rain water


Desalinating water


Importing water





2.1. Harvesting of Rain Water

Harvesting of rain water is perhaps the cheapest source of fresh water for any country. This is because no costs are incurred in terms of transportation or purchasing and the storage facilities are also relatively cheap (Friddel, 2009, p. 46). In addition, harvesting of rain water does not have to be a huge government project because it can also be done locally by communities and families. Rain water is also fairly fresh and only a little treatment with locally available disinfectants is required to make the water safe for drinking. However, rain water is not sustainable due to the fact that the amount of rain experienced in the region is little. According to (Country Studies, 2010), rainfall is received between the months of November and April followed by six months of dry spell. In practical terms, it is impossible to collect rain water within six months can sustain a country for another six months considering that the rain is little and putting into perspective other environmental factors. Although harvesting of rain water seems like the cheapest option it is not sustainable.

2.2. Desalinating Water

Basically, desalination of water means removing salt from the water. There are various methods available for water desalination and scientists are still working hard to come up with even better water desalination methods. Perhaps the cheapest and most commonly used desalinating method is distillation.

2.2.1. Distillation

Essentially, distillation involves the heating of water at to 100 degree centigrade to allow for the evaporation of the fresh water and the salt is left behind (Miller, 2008, p. 168). The technique does not require the use of sophisticated machinery when being conducted in small scale. Similar to harvesting of rain water the technique can be used to obtain fresh water even at local levels.

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2.2.2. Reverse Osmosis

The second method of desalinating salty water is through the use of reverse osmosis. The technique uses very high pressure to force salty water through very small membranes that can only allow water to pass leaving behind salt (Kreith, 2000). According to Miller (2008), desalinating water has several disadvantages that prevent its widespread usage. Desalination through reverse osmosis requires a lot of energy in forcing the sea water through the small membranes at very high pressure. In addition, the byproduct of desalination which is called briny has high salt contents and when dumped into the sea can become hazardous to the marine life. Pumping water through small pores at very high pressure also kills some beneficial microorganisms that might be in the water. Looking at the cost of desalination and the environmental implications, it is obvious that the technique cannot work effectively in Iraq. Although the country might have energy in form of petroleum from fossil fuel, the environmental implications are still huge.

2.3. Importing Water

Water importation involves the bringing in of large amounts of water from water excess countries such as Turkey. Plans are already underway between turkey and Iran to establish whether it can be possible to construct a pipe from Turkey to Iran that supplies Iran with water from Turkey (Shuval, 2008, p.162). Other ways of importing may also involve the use of large water tanks and bags. However, looking at the current economic situation of post war Iraq the general realization is that the technique is not cost effective.


The general observation from the findings is that no single method can sufficiently provide the country with sustainable and cost effective fresh water. The only other option is combine some of the methods that have little disadvantages and are cheaper to implement. Instead of the government engaging in the provision of fresh water, citizens should be sensitized on cheap and accessible methods that they can use to obtain fresh water from the sea water or ground water. The most applicable method in this case is simple distillation. The other applicable method is harvesting of rain water and the government can also sensitize the citizens on the same. A combination of the two methods will significantly reduce the problem.


Fresh water shortage is a perennial problem in most countries in the Middle East. Various approaches have been proposed but their applicability has always depended on various aspects that eventually determine whether the techniques are applicable within a particular environment or not. Such considerations include cost effectiveness, sustainability, and amount of fresh water that the method can provide and finally the practicality of the method. Consideration of these aspects has helped in determining whether the various proposed methods can be applicable in Iraq. Since the report used Iraq as the point of focus due its geographical position and in consideration of is economic situation after the war, some of the methods ruled out here might be applicable in other countries where conditions are much favorable. For instance, Iran has had good relations with Turkey and Turkey promised to provide Iran with fresh water for free. Iran has also enjoyed long term political stability that has boosted its economy and there is the possibility that the country can afford to import water from countries with excess water in Europe for instance France.

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