Fresh water is fundamental to human health, social development, peace, and economic growth everywhere in the world. Yet in a great many places, and for a great many people, clean freshwater is scarce. Current trends on both the supply and demand sides strongly suggest that clean freshwater availability will become more challenging in more places in the future. As a result, water will become even more important than it currently is in contributing to the degradation of social, political, and economic systems in troubled countries around the world. Nowhere are these dynamics more evident or more important than in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where population growth and water scarcity threaten acute impacts in the years to come. An unreliable water supply can act as an important catalyst for instability, especially when present alongside other sources of discontent and unrest (such as ethnic, religious, political, or economic stressors).


Authored by Peter Engelke and Howard Passell, From the Gulf to the Nile: water security in an arid region draws greater and more focused attention to this region and this rising problem. It includes a synopsis of recent empirical work on Egypt, the Nile, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, conducted jointly by Sandia and the Atlantic Council. More exhaustive findings are contained in a Sandia Labs report on Egypt and the Nile, released in the spring of 2016.

Related Experts: Peter Engelke