Water Security Middle East (Blue Peace)

In the Middle East, the dire situation of water resources demands stronger regional cooperation than ever before. The Blue Peace Middle East Initiative is the only regional platform engaging six countries around water issues. Together with its partners from academia, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, Switzerland is able to promote policy and concrete solutions for serving the most vulnerable populations leading to sustainable development and peace building. Stability in the region is in the interest of Switzerland.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Near East
Conflict & fragility
Water diplomacy and security
Conflict prevention
Water sector policy
01.02.2019 - 31.03.2023
CHF  3’890’000

All the countries in the Middle East already face serious water shortage. The per capita per year availability of water in most countries is below the internationally accepted threshold level of 1000 cubic meters. It is also one of the region most vulnerable to climate change, on account of water scarcity, a significant dependence on climate-sensitive agriculture, high population density and economic activity in flood-prone urban coastal zones which could lead to instability.

As water problems in the region and their impacts are often transboundary, regional solutions are required. The Blue Peace Middle East Initiative responds to main challenges for sustainable water management in the region: closing the knowledge gap (reliable data); effective capacity building, and the promotion of exchange and dialogue.

Objectives Water users and particularly the most vulnerable populations have equitable and sustainable access to water resources through enhanced regional water cooperation, which in turn is empowering the broader underpinning of peace in the region.
Target groups

(PA 1) Primary target group are influential policy makers in the region that are capable of convincing their leaders and governments of the importance of water for sustainable development and peace.

(PA 2-6) Target group ranges from government employees in the water sector, as well as academics, civil society groups, entrepreneurs, media representatives and networks. Indirect target group are the popu­lations threatened by conflict or water scarcity, and the dare need for access to water and sanitation.

Medium-term outcomes

PA 1: Regional cooperation over Water Resources in the Middle East for Iraq, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey lead to dialogue, understanding and stability.

PA 2-6: Activities on the ground in the two transboundary basins (Tigris, Yarmouk) work towards improved water arrangements introducing largely efficient water management. Regional hub expands start-up opportunities for the regional water sector including acess to finance. The Blue Peace media lab will spark attention to water as a catalyst for socio-economic development and peace.


Expected results:  

  • An established and robust mechanism for cooperation.
  • Regional policy recommendations on water efficiency in agriculture will be available.
  • Joint trainings for trust building and knowledge exchange for Iraqi and Turkish water actors.
  • Six rehabilitated water-monitoring stations foster the Iraq-Turkey dialogue.
  • A study on transboundary tributaries of the Tigris will allow for dialogue between Iran and Iraq.
  • New entrepreneurial hub for water start-ups is established in the region
  • A Center for Water Diplomacy in Jordan provides capacity building in negotiations, and knowledge on the Yarmouk basin.
  • A Blue peace Media lab offers Models and approaches for innovative water related communication and media work.

Results from previous phases:  

  • Regional stakeholders in the Blue Peace Initiative have agreed to establish a regional cooperation mechanism comprised of representatives from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and to some extent Syria with aim to create a soft infrastructure of dialogue for confidence building and capacity building of policy makers in the water sector and wider public.
  • Tigris River: to prepare for data sharing a joint management between Turkey and Iraq, a technical support project on rehabilitating water monitoring stations in Iraq was initiated. Regarding transboundary groundwater, a UNESCO Iraq led project contributed to the improvement of sustainable management in KRG of Iraq by building the capacity of beneficiaries, applying standard tools and best practices
  • Yarmouk River Basin: a hydro-political baseline study filled a knowledge gap and initiated substantive discussion around the sustainable management of the basin.
  • A project supported the creation and expansion of over 45 water and waste start-ups helping to improve the situation in the region with regards to private sector participation and the creation of employment opportunities.
  • More than 70 journalists, bloggers and social media reporters were trained on water reporting leading to more than 30 water in-depth stories/reports published on an online regional platform.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign academic and research organisation
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
Foreign state institution
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Central State of South East
  • National State Institute North
  • Other Academic Research North
  • Other international or foreign NGO North
  • Other Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Foreign private sector North
  • Swiss Private Sector
  • Research Organisation of South East
  • World Meterological Organization

Implementing partner
PA1 – Turkish Water Institute (SUEN)
PA2 – World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
PA3 – UNESCO Teheran (tbc)
PA4 – University of East Anglia (UEA)
PA5 – Cewas Middle East
PA6 – Media in Conflict and Transition (MiCT)

Other partners

PA 02: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), OTT Hydromet

PA 03: Teheran Water Institute

PA 04: Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST)

PA 05: Arab Innovation Network, Borda, Oxfam

PA 06: Media Academy Iraq, cewas

Coordination with other projects and actors

Global Blue Peace and the Geneva Water Hub (GWH). 

Blue Peace Central Asia as well as water diplomacy programmes by Sweden, The Netherlands, MENA World Bank program.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    3’890’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’630’005
Project phases Phase 4 01.02.2019 - 31.03.2023   (Current phase) Phase 3 01.04.2016 - 31.03.2021   (Completed) Phase 2 01.12.2013 - 30.06.2016   (Completed) Phase 1 01.10.2010 - 31.12.2013   (Completed)