Francesca de Chatel explores the problems and paradoxes of water resources in the Middle East and North Africa. She takes an entirely new angle on the much-discussed question of water scarcity by examining the history and culture of water from a human perspective. Unlike other books on the subject that provide specialized geopolitical, economic, and hydrological analyses, this book presents the reality of water scarcity through the eyes of those confronting the problem on a daily basis.

The author provides a colorful and diverse portrait of a resource that is inextricably entwined with the history and future of the region and its peoples. Using research obtained in her travels, she combines lively character sketches, interviews, travel descriptions, historical anecdotes, and hard facts to reveal the complexity of this invaluable resource.

Besides identifying the causes of the current water crisis, the book also discusses the reason for a lack of awareness among the general public, and deals with a variety of themes: the role of water in religions and ideologies, the impact of large-scale water projects on people's perception of the resource, and the politics of water pricing. In exploring the past, present, and future of water in the region, de Chatel exposes the roots of the current water crisis.

chapter |8 pages

Prologue: Abundance

chapter 1|14 pages

The Death of the Garden of Eden

chapter 2|18 pages

A Gift from God

chapter 3|11 pages

Fading Traditions

chapter 4|12 pages

Chafa and Chirb, the Laws of Water

chapter 5|18 pages

The Value of Water

chapter 6|18 pages

Myths of Concrete and Steel

chapter 7|21 pages

Making the Desert Bloom

chapter 8|20 pages

Bitter Waters

chapter 9|16 pages

War and Visions of Peace

chapter 10|17 pages

Relearning the Meaning of Water

chapter 11|14 pages

Four Stories of People and Water

chapter 12|4 pages

Epilogue: The Smell of Rain