Water supply and food security will pose a major challenge in the coming years, which many government officials refer to as a human security issue. Both the country’s natural climatic situation and the government policies in managing its limited water resources over the past few decades have exacerbated this challenge.
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The Ministry of Water Resources has shown that it understands the challenges that face the country and has adopted a strategy that will help alleviate water scarcity in the future. Despite this, several crises threaten to push the country towards further deterioration. Failing infrastructure, outdated agricultural and irrigation systems, upstream development, the IS insurgency, budget shortfalls, political instability and climate change all require discreet solutions, any one of which is difficult on its own let alone in tandem.
The Euphrates-Tigris basin is among the most important river basins in Turkey and in the Middle East. The average annual discharge of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is 84 billion m3, which equals to the average annual flow of the Nile River. Euphrates provides 90 per cent of water, whose average annual flow is 32 billion m3, from Turkey.
The discussions about the creation of a ministry related to the water resources have continued for a long time and took its final form in 2011 under the name of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs.This ministry is responsible for the development of policies related to the protection of water resources and their sustainable use, and the coordination of the national water management.
Between 1950 and 1965, open irrigation canals were constructed in Turkey. Irrigation systems with canalettes have been introduced since 1965. Irrigation systems with canallettes were constructed between 1970 and 1980. By 1990, low and medium pipe network with advanced pipe technologies have been used.
It is essential to take immediate measures to prevent potential water shortage. Thus, demand-oriented management should be the focus rather than supply-oriented management. Demand-oriented management is provided by efficiently using water resources through limiting demand on water, and setting institutional, economic and administrative incentives to save water. It is essential for water resources management to be flexible and effective enough to adapt to changing climate conditions, dry spells, and new precipitation patterns.