MEC Friday Webinar Series - Dr Hussam Hussein - The politics of water scarcity in the case of Jordan

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Dr. Hussam Hussein’s research focuses on the role of discourses in shaping water policies in the Middle East, on transboundary water governance, and on issues related to the political economy of water resources in arid and semi-arid regions. Hussam has also worked on issues of sustainable development and environmental governance for the Italian Embassy in Jordan, the European Parliament, the World Bank and UNICEF. He obtained his PhD from the University of East Anglia with a thesis on hydropolitics and discourses of water scarcity in the case of Jordan.


This talk investigates the construction of the discourse of water scarcity in Jordan, and the political economy of the water sector. It identifies the actors constructing the discourse and the elements comprising the discourse. The research finds that there is a single dominant discourse of water scarcity, which is composed of two narratives: water insufficiency and water mismanagement. The water insufficiency narrative is constructed to emphasise factors external to the responsibility of the Jordanian government as reasons for water scarcity, like nature, refugees, and neighbouring countries. It is mainly constructed by governmental aligned actors and deployed to open solutions on the supply and conservation sides and ultimately to maintain the status quo of the current water uses. The water mismanagement narrative is constructed to emphasise as reasons for water scarcity factors of mismanagement of water resources and deployed to increase economic efficiency in the water sector, challenging existing uses, allocations, and benefits.