World Water Day will be celebrated on 22 March 2008, as it has been in all of the previous 16 years. By highlighting the importance of this resource, the United Nations reminds us how essential water is to human life and how inequitably it is distributed over our planet, occasioning ever more conflicts or rivalries between countries or between variably endowed populations within a single country.
Pierre Blanc offers a survey here of what he terms "water-related violence" - indicating, not the imminent threat of "water wars", but a form of the violation of elementary human needs - in the Near East region. He first puts Lebanon under the spotlight, that country being a typical case of a state languishing under water domination, since a large proportion of its water resources have for many years been blocked by Israel, while supply, in the north, is dependent on the goodwill of Syria. He then covers the water violence specific to Egypt (the Nile Basin, in particular), recalling the "water riots" of Summer 2007, which pointed up the poor national management of water resources and purification. Lastly, after focussing on the city of Damascus and the differential treatment of cities and periphery (rich and poor), Pierre Blanc concludes that, at both national and international levels, the strongest (or richest) prevail in achieving access to water, and that this trend might, unfortunately, be with us for many years to come.