For better or worse: the influence of conflict-driven decentralization on the resilience of urban water supply infrastructure in the Middle East

Juliane Schillinger*, Gül Özerol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

When armed conflicts disrupt urban water supply, local communities are forced to find other ways to fulfill their domestic water needs. In this paper, we analyze the development of decentralized water infrastructure as a coping strategy during armed conflict in five cities across Iraq, Syria and Yemen. We discuss the implications of conflict-driven decentralization on the resilience of urban water supply infrastructure, addressing its functionality, its recovery in case of disruption, and its sustainability on the long term. The results indicate that decentralized water supply systems developed throughout conflict uphold a basic level of functionality and minimize their vulnerability to conflict-related shocks. However, short-term resilience gains come at the cost of health risks and high water prices, and undermine system sustainability due to a lack of coordination. We conclude that decentralization processes implemented within the constraints of armed conflict are often detrimental to infrastructure resilience, particularly over longer timeframes.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalSustainable and Resilient Infrastructure
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2024

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D

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