How To Avoid War Over Water

How To Avoid War Over Water

This is a must read article. It also mentions the repercussions of fhe Israeli bombing in Lebanon and the hidden motivations we won't see covered on CNN, and the war in Sri Lanka that I also wrote about. And the four broad recommendations were right on. Also, access to water must be declared a global human right to keep corporate hands off of water that doesn't belong to them. Just because your name is Coca Cola that doesn't give you the inherent right to take away water that is needed to sustain life, or to pollute it.

Again, great article. And also, perhaps by speaking up about the potential of all out war over this resource and warning against it, we will foster peaceful negotiations and cooperations in the end. However, the bottomline is that those of us in parts of the world where water is plentiful must think about conserving it for our future and helping those who do not have the potable water they need to meet their needs. War or not that is simply the moral and ethical thing to do.

Excerpt from article:

Published on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 by the International Herald Tribune / Paris, France
How to Avoid War over Water
by Kevin Watkins and Anders Berntell

The facts behind the crisis tell their own story. By 2025, more than two billion people are expected to live in countries that find it difficult or impossible to mobilize the water resources needed to meet the needs of agriculture, industry and households. Population growth, urbanization and the rapid development of manufacturing industries are relentlessly increasing demand for finite water resources.

Symptoms of the resulting water stress are increasingly visible. In northern China, rivers now run dry in their lower reaches for much of the year. In parts of India, groundwater levels are falling so rapidly that from 10 percent to 20 percent of agricultural production is under threat.From the Aral Sea in Central Asia to Lake Chad in sub-Saharan Africa, lakes are shrinking at an unprecedented rate. In effect, a large section of humanity is now living in regions where the limits of sustainable water use have been breached - and where water-based ecological systems are collapsing. The disputes erupting within countries are one consequence of increasing scarcity. But water is the ultimate fugitive resource. Two in every five people in the world live in river and lake basins that span one or more international borders. And it is this hydrological interdependence that has the potential to transmit heightened competition for water across frontiers.

The Tigris and Euphrates river systems figure prominently at World Water Week. No river system better demonstrates the nature of hydrological interdependence. In Turkey, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are seen as an underexploited source of power and irrigation. Viewed from Syria and Iraq, Turkish dams are a threat to hundreds of thousands of livelihoods, with farmers losing access to water. Underpinning the rivalry between states is the idea that sharing water is a zero-sum game: Every drop of water secured by Turkish farmers appears as a loss to Syrian farmers.Consider, too, the huge river-diversion programs under consideration in China and India, which see them as part of a national strategy for transferring water from surplus to deficit areas. Neighboring governments fear a catastrophic loss of water. Bangladesh has warned that any diversion of the Ganges to meet the needs of India's cities could undermine the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable farmers.

Identifying potential flashpoints for conflict does not require a doctorate in hydrology. In the Middle East, the world's most severely water-stressed region, more than 90 percent of usable water crosses international borders. Forget oil: The most precious resource in the region flows in the River Jordan, or resides in the aquifers that link Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The threats posed by competition for water are real enough - but for every threat there is an opportunity. Cooperation tends to attract less news than violent conflict. Perhaps that is why "water wars" get such exaggerated coverage.

The agreement under which Lesotho provides water to the greater Johannesburg area in South Africa in return for watershed management finance does not make front page news. Nor does the Nile Basin Initiative, through which Egypt, Ethiopia and other countries are exchanging the benefits of cooperation on the Nile. And cooperation in West Africa between Senegal, Mali and Mauritania to share the Senegal River is not likely to make prime- time new slots in Europe. Yet cooperation over water is far more widespread than conflict. None of this is to play down the risk of water wars. Like oil and other energy resources, water is a source of life and livelihoods. It follows that water security is every bit as integral to human progress as energy security, with one large caveat: unlike oil, water has no known substitutes. That is why no country can afford to suffer a catastrophic loss of water resources.