Tag: water

Greater threat than violence: Water

My students will recognize an issue that I have been discussing for years now.

Beyond the household, competition for water as a productive resource is intensifying. Symptoms of that competition include the collapse of water-based ecological systems, declining river flows and large-scale groundwater depletion. Conflicts over water are intensifying within countries, with the rural poor losing out. The potential for tensions between countries is also growing, though there are large potential human development gains from increased cooperation.

See the UN’s 2006 Human Development Report.

Coming soon to a planet near you: war over water

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. (via)