Groundwater Security in Yemen: Who is Accountable to Whom?

 

Frank van Steenbergen
Managing Director
MetaMeta Research
Paardskerkhofweg 14
5223 AJ, ‘s-Hertogenbosch
The Netherlands
fvansteenbergen@metameta.nl

Omar Bamaga
Senior Lecturer and Director of Planning and Development Unit
Water and Environment Centre
Sana’a University
P.O. Box 13019
Sana’a, Yemen
oabamaga1@yahoo.com

Adel Al-Weshali
Senior Lecturer
Water and Environment Centre
Sana’a University
P.O. Box 13019
Sana’a, Yemen
drweshali@yahoo.com

 

 

 


 

The overuse of groundwater in Yemen is now recognized as a national security issue. Groundwater exploitation has increased rapidly over the last four decades. While this has boosted high value farming and created rural jobs, there are grave concerns whether agriculture is not bound for a potentially destabilizing setback. This paper discusses the emergence of local management rules – by water users themselves - and their interplay with formal state institutions. It argues that the existence of formal institutions - including the National Water Law – was more important than their actual almost non-existent implementation. Groundwater where managed is managed locally in Yemen – but in spite of this autonomy, the presence of the Water Law creates the context in which these otherwise contentious local rules develop. The implication is that further strengthening and promoting local regulation is the best option for groundwater management rather than refining and investing in national regulatory institutions.

 

Agriculture, groundwater, law, local regulation, politics, security, water management.

 

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