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Association for Environmental and Developmental Studies in the Arab World

  • AEDSAW ACTIVITIES AT WOCMES 2002, Mainz, Germany
    	 Organized by Gloria Ibrahim Saliba, UCLA-USA
    	 Session I
    	 Chair: Gloria Saliba, UCLA - USA
    	 Discussant: Hussein Amery, Colorado School of Mines- USA
    	 By Prof. Dawn Chatty, Oxford University-UK
             Nomadic pastoral societies in  the Middle East throughout the 20th
             century have faced enormous pressure to change their way of
             life and to adapt to what is perceived by settled society to
             be a more `progressive', modern, and sound
             existence. Projects, mainly in the first half of the 20th
             century, designed to settle these peoples, largely failed and
             were followed in rapid succession by international
             `development efforts' designed to make nomadic peoples
             modern.  The failure of these more recent technological
             schemes have led to a stalemate and often a state policy of
             benign neglect which has indirectly permitted some nomadic
             pastoral peoples to change and adapt as best suited their own
             institutions and structures.  After briefly examining the
             success of some nomadic pastoral groups [ Bedouin] in
             Northern Arabia to manipulate state ` neglect' into economic
             successes, this paper turns to examine the situation in Oman,
             where a different state policy was envisaged.  Determined to
             provide social benefits to the nomadic pastoral communities
             of the Central Desert without forcing them to settle, the
             government of Oman extended basic health, education and
             social services to these communities and no more.  It was,
             however, the lack of a meaningful relationship with the oil
             companies whose concession areas covered vast swathes of the
             traditional tribal lands which has highlighted the
             fundamental neglect of nomadic pastoralists, even though they
             formed significant stakeholder group.  Recent international
             pressure for accountability and transparency among the
             multinational oil companies, the call for socially sound
             investment policy and a concern with respecting human rights,
             has given these nomadic communities a new voice and leverage
             in demanding sound social investment policies from the
             government and the oil companies for them and their
             communities in the deserts of Oman.
    	 Prof. Peter Vincent, Lancaster University-UK
             The hima system of land management was developed in the
             Arabian peninsula at least 1500 years ago and as such is
             probably theoldest known organised approach to conservation
             anywhere in the world.  Himas are types common property in
             which local stakeholders control use of the rangeland in
             order to conserve pasture and the seed stock in times of
             environmental stress. In former times there were literally
             thousands of himas run by village communities of the Hijaz
             and Asir highlands of Saudi Arabia. There, hima areas ranged
             in size from a few to many thousands of hectares and their
             use controlled by complex, largely unwritten, rules.
             Nowadays only a few working hima survive due mainly to rural
             depopulation, changes in rangeland use and the imposed
             weakening of tribal structures in the 1960s.  As compared
             with the open rangeland, hima were extremely successful in
             combating the ecological and erosional effects of
             overgrazing. Attempts to revive elements of the system are
             now underway, especially as part of the management program
             for Saudi Arabia's growing number of protected areas.
    	 Gloria I. Saliba, UCLA-USA
             In pursuit of modernization and progress the Syrian
             governments -since the late fifties- initiated a number of
             agricultural policies aiming at increasing productivity,
             achieving socioeconomic justice and development.  However,
             limited natural resources accompanied by poorly designed
             projects hindered reaching these objectives.  Consequently,
             Syria has awakened to a great interest in environment
             protection and conservation.  The government with the help of
             international organizations began integrating sustainable and
             environmentally sensitive measures into its agricultural
             policies and projects.
             This paper examines the effect that the implemented
             agricultural policies (old and new), and the scarcity of
             natural resources, especially water and fertile land, are
             having on the Bedouin and Assyrian communities in al-Hassaka
             region in Northern Syria. These communities were greatly
             affected by land reform policies, irrigation projects and
             more recently by some of the conservational policies.
             Based in part on interviews with members of these communities
             collected by the author, in addition to supporting documents
             and literature, this paper will show first, that different
             communities react differently to the same policies. Second,
             that the effectiveness of these policies in these communities
             is determined by the tradition, way of life and the
             availability of natural resources in their environment or the
             lack of it.
             In particular, this paper looks at the impact of these
             policies on improving the living standards and on the
             socioeconomic development of these communities. It will also
             question whether or not these policies are achieving their
             objectives in promoting socioeconomic justice and
             environmental conservation.
    	 Prof. Jim Miller, Clemson University-USA
             Sijilmasa, among the first cities founded by the forces of
             Islam in the West, is today an abandoned site in the heart of
             the Tafilalt Oasis of southeastern Morocco. From the 700s to
             the 1500s AD, however, Sijilmasa led a dramatic career as a
             city perched on the edge of the Sahara Desert that organized
             the gold trade with ancient Ghana and later West African
             societies.  Sijilmasa was also responsible for the diffusion
             of the earliest message of Islam to West Africa.  After 6
             seasons of excavations at the site, the joint
             Moroccan-American Project at Sijilmasa (MAPS) has focused on
             the preservation of the central site.  Problems of
             preservation include encroaching urbanization, public
             indifference to local patrimony, lack of funds, and the
             skilfull manipulation of space for modern facilities. In the
             last 3 years, extensive areas of Sijilmasa have been lost.
             This paper investigates these conditions and outlines the
             project to preserve the mosque at the site.
    	 AEDSAW Panel : Session II
    	 Chair: Gloria Saliba, UCLA
    	 Discussant: Professor Mike Reibel, California State Polytechnic
    	 University, Pomona-USA
             Title: People and Environment in Oases: The Geography of Ingeniousness.
    	 A Comparative Study on Maghreb Countries
    	 Andrea Corsale, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
             Many studies and researches tend to stress on the social,
             economic and environmental crisis that African and Asian
             traditional oases have been facing since the decline of
             caravan trade and the entrance into the world economy. It is
             true that most of the circumstances that favoured their
             creation and their development in the past have now
             disappeared. Deep changes as the spread of western-like
             lifestyles and the competition with modern agriculture, as
             well as the abolition of slavery and the demographic growth,
             have made the old oasis world obsolete and inadequate. It is
             now necessary for these communities to carefully reflect on
             the reasons why people should decide to inhabit, irrigate and
             cultivate the desert in the 21st century.
             Maghreb countries offer a range of ancient and modern cases
             and solutions that is worth analysing.  The variety of
             physical features in the Pre-Saharan belt, which is about
             2000 km long and 300 km wide, naturally causes a great
             diversity in the stock of natural resources, namely fresh
             water and fertile soil. The historical events produced deeper
             differences that made up a very variegated range of human and
             natural landscapes. It was after the independence of Morocco,
             Algeria and Tunisia that the most interesting experiments of
             land management took place.  Morocco tended to slacken the
             changes in the rural environment, trying to preserve the
             traditional social system on which the Alawi monarchy
             relies. The great dams and the growing market economy are
             nevertheless leading to deep and sometimes chaotic
             transformations, that often cause serious environmental
             problems such as sand encroachment, salinization and palm
             tree diseases.
             Algeria chose a more active and innovating policy of rural
             development, associated with radical agrarian reforms,
             villagization schemes and creation of new oases, often linked
             with the exploitation of oil, gas and fossil water. The rain
             of centre-led projects, though, did not always produce the
             expected results.
             Tunisia is making great efforts to promote capitalistic
             farming and tourist development in the arid regions. Her
             oases appear to be destined to a positive future, though high
             risks of overexploitation of natural resources are to be
             faced.  A reflection on these different approaches and a
             balance of their results can hopefully stimulate the
             geographical research on the changing relationships between
             people and environment in arid regions.
    	 Title: Investing for Climate Protection in the Maghreb Countries
    	 Ali Agoumi, The Regional Coordinator for the Maghreb climate
    	 change	 Project- MOROCCO
    	 A paper coauthored By: Ali Agoumi,  Samir Amous,  Menouer
    	 Boughadaoui,Faouzi Senhaji,  Mohamed Senouci,  and Bill Dougherty
             Deeply embedded in the process of Rio, the United Nations
             Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) raised a new
             problem, that of the effect of human activities on the global
             climate. Future changes in climate are likely to have an
             adverse impact on natural systems and on the socioeconomic
             development of societies. Climate changes are especially
             important for the countries of the arid and semi-arid regions
             of the world, of which the Maghreb countries (Algeria,
             Tunisia, and Morocco) are part.  Confronting the challenge of
             global climate change is inseparable from the development of
             financial mechanisms to aid and preserve development
             aspirations of developing countries. Actions have been
             undertaken within Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia to build
             awareness among key national stakeholders of the nature of
             these financial mechanisms, and to assist the countries to
             develop strategies where national development priorities and
             climate protection intersect.  
             This paper addresses one aspect of the Maghreb strategy,
             namely the development of a portfolio of projects eligible
             for support under the Convention's financial
             mechanisms. Eight types of projects are considered in the
             areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative
             fuels, cogeneration, forestry, and solid waste. The portfolio
             elaborates projects that represent a set of important and
             concrete opportunities for investment, forms the basis for
             both promoting sustainable development in the region, and
             secures long-term carbon emission reductions for the world.
    	 Title: The importance of Egyptian Mediterranean Wetlands
    	 Tarek Abulzahab, Environment Affairs Agency, Cairo-Egypt
             Wetlands are among the most prolific ecosystems on
             earth. They provide living space and food to aquatic,
             amphibious, and terrestrial species.  Development has led to
             the destruction of wetlands around the world. Just in the
             last three decades have scientists, policy makers, and the
             public begun to appreciate the inestimable value of wetlands
             and the critical role they play in the recreation of
             ecological processes.
             The Ramsar Convention (1971) implemented a program to
             designate and preserve wetlands that are of global
             significance for their value as habitat.  Egypt, as part of
             the Mediterranean Basin, embraces two biogeographical
             corridors (Red Sea and the River Nile) which link the tropics
             in the south with the palearctics in the north.  The Red Sea
             and the Nile Basin are two principal highways along the
             migratory routes of the palearctic-tropics journey of
             birds. The northern lakes, Bardawil, Burullus, Mazala, Idku
             and Mariut are vital resting stations. Lake Bardawil and Lake
             Burullus are two internationally recognized sites within the
             framework of the Wetland Convention (Ramsar, 1971), both of
             which are influenced by human activities in entirely
             different ways.  The LAKE BARDAWIL coastal Lagoon is located
             on the Mediterranean coast of the Sinai Peninsula and had
             been identified as one of the most important wetlands for
             water birds in the entire Mediterranean Region. Lake Bardawil
             essentially compromises two lagoons. The Bardawil lagoon
             covers most of the area with 595 km2 while the Zaranik lagoon
             covers 9 km2. The Zaranik Lagoon was declared as protected
             area(1984). It is located in the eastern part of the Lake
             Bardawil. At present there are no direct threats to the
             protected area, due to its low population density and its
             isolation. Despite these circumstances, the ambitions of the
             national North-Sinai Development Plan could have fundamental
             negative influences when ecological issues are not considered
             as part of the planning process.  In comparison to the
             remotely located Bardawil Lake a total different situation
             can be observed in LAKE BURULLUS, which is located in the
             highly populated Delta-Region. The catchment area of the
             Burullus Lake extends from the Nile River sources until the
             Nile Delta. Throughout its course, the Nile collects
             pesticides and fertilizer and laden water, which flows,
             through a number of drainage channels, into the southern
             shore of the lake, thus disturbing the natural balance.
             Water quality problems have combined with increasing levels
             of commercial fishing activity, resulting in major declines
             in fish production, a supported eutrophication.  The whole
             Burullus Lake was recently declared a protected area, but the
             current economic use makes nature protection very difficult
             due to the modicum of environmental awareness of the
             inhabitants and local decisions-makers.  Primarily we will
             discuss these two protected areas, the contemporary question
             about the protection of existing wetlands, the journeys of
             the migrating birds and the survival of local inhabitants
             will be pointed out.  It is worth to notify that these
             protected areas are part of a regional protection project
             (MedWetCoast) in which several Mediterranean countries are
             participating, specially Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine
             Authorities, Lebanon and Albania. Throughout the importance
             of protection of wetlands, the projects supports the
             cooperation and communication of the political authorities
             and scientists that are highly interested in preserving the
             existing resources, and making obligatory a sustainable and
             comprehensive Regional Development Plan for the protection of
    	 Title: Towards Islamic Water Policies.
    	 Prof. Hussein A. Amery, Colorado School of Mines- USA
             Islamic doctrine views humans as an integral part of (not
             apart from) the natural system, and advocates "living in
             peace" with the biotic and abiotic species.  Islamic water
             management principles can be succinctly summarized as
             advocating wise-use.  People, accordingly, may control
             nature, consume its resources, but may not cruelly conquer it
             in such a way that irreversibly degrades God's creation. This
             paper outlines Islam's injunctions on human-environment
             interactions and details water management guidelines as
             specified in the Koran and Prophet Muhammad's hadith
             (traditions).  It argues that Islam requires its adherents to
             conserve water, consider the water needs of non-human
             species, and to not irreparably degrade water and other
             natural resources.  Based on these and other evidence, the
             paper argues that affective Islamically-grounded water policy
             ought to be drafted to reflect alternative, non-traditional
             worldviews and value systems.  Demand management, and more
             broadly sustainable use of water resources in Islamic
             countries are more likely to be realized if the management
             instruments incorporate a host of alternative incentives and
             disincentives such as spiritual rewards and penalties.  Water
             policies have generally been based on the premise of "one
             size fits all", and have frequently disregard the variable
             requirements of local cultures and norms only to find
             resistence and high default rates with respect to
             implementation.  In an era of mounting interest in and
             "return" to Islam's teachings throughout the Islamic World
             from Indonesia to Morocco, the author argues that
             culturally-sensitive water management policies are likely to
             be broadly embraced by the majority of Muslims.
    	 Zeina Hajj, GP MED - LEBANON
             Under pressure to solve immediate economic problems, Middle
             Eastern and Arab countries seek to industrialize as quickly
             and as cheaply as possible.  Too often, the myopic drive for
             quick economic gains means that destruction is taken for
             development and deterioration for progress. Dumping of
             certain obsolete technologies in the guise of "investment" in
             the Middle East is often backed by international financial
             institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary
             Fund and the European Investment Bank.  Greenpeace and other
             international and local organizations are combating this
             mindset on several fronts.  One of the main challenges in the
             work lead by environmentalist in this region is to provide
             the public the access to information and their "Right to
             Know" about the pollutants they face and their impact on
             their health.  Past experience has shown a direct correlation
             between public access to information and environmental
             quality. The government is the key to ensuring public access
             to information - and armed with information, the public can
             become a powerful catalyst for pollution prevention and
             cleaner production methods.  Through legislation that demands
             disclosure of information, mandatory reporting, and free
             access to data, national governments can give citizens
             control over their environment.  When UN Environmental
             Program adopted the Mediterranean for its first ever Regional
             Seas Program in the mid-1970s, it recognized that the
             degradation of the sea could be halted only by fully
             integrating environmental concerns into national plans for
             economic development. The Barcelona Convention for the
             Protection of the Marine Environment and Coastal Region of
             the Mediterranean today includes six protocols, which, if
             implemented by regional governments, would effectively lead
             to the protection of the most important economic and
             environmental resource in the region. But government rhetoric
             has masked inaction. Twenty-five years down the line, the
             Mediterranean Sea is more threatened than ever.  The
             environmental problems facing the Middle East today have
             afflicted developing countries elsewhere.  But rather than
             applying the lessons learned from other countries'
             experiences, and shifting to less polluting technologies, for
             example, Middle Eastern countries simply re-enact old stories
             of environmental degradation.  Sustainable economic
             development in the region must take full account of scarce
             natural resources and assess development's likely impact on
             the environment. Squandering natural resources will
             negatively affect all economic sectors, including
             tourism. Immediate action is needed if this region is to
             remain beautiful and safe in the future.

Copyright © 2002 Association for Environmental and Developmental
Studies in the Arab World
Editor: Gloria Saliba; Consultant: Maha Broum