Managing the waters within area A : water allocation in Jericho as a case study for Palestinian water management

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Date

2012-05

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Baker, Lauren Marie

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This thesis examines the case study of Jericho as an example of the unique challenges of intra-Palestinian water allocation. Over the past hundred years, Jericho has been under the control of five ruling governments: Ottoman, British, Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian. This study begins with an investigation of local water allocation under foreign control. Throughout each period of rule, legislation about water was inherently connected with land control, and Jericho’s history as an agricultural city dictated how water was classified. Despite many of the nominal changes in law from one government to the next, local practice changed relatively little, as the community allocated resources in a fairly consistent way among community members. Jericho’s sustained level of agriculture has been possible because of the consistently high output of a large spring, Ein Sultan, just north of the contemporary city. The second chapter examines the transition from Israeli to Palestinian control of Jericho in 1994, which is now considered an Area A zone in the West Bank, and examines the relationship of nascent Palestinian water institutions with previous informal networks. The last section addresses the challenges facing Jericho today, referencing and analyzing the recently written Master Plan for Jericho’s water system undertaken by a Palestinian nongovernmental organization. The Plan effectively highlights problems within the system of allocation, including: poor water quality, inefficient domestic and irrigation networks, conspicuous local consumption, ineffective pricing systems, and lack of wastewater treatment. However, the plan does not provide long-term suggestions to address the underlying systematic problems with the allocation system. Although Jericho is theoretically a Palestinian controlled municipality, it faces serious obstacles to effective governance of its resources. The informal institutions dominated by the agricultural sector that sustained the community for such a long time, may not be able to adjust in the face of necessary water reform for the city. The local government may need to consider politically unpopular decisions, reform tariffs, and decrease reliance upon foreign aid if it hopes to continue maintain and manage Ein Sultan and other water sources for the growing city into the future.

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