In this fascinating article from BBC News, the importance of and access to water is explored. Conflict in the south of Sudan can be directly attributed to the lack of access to water and competition for resources. Though there is much disagreement as to whether the war in Darfur is winding down, the United Nations is nonetheless slowly starting to withdraw troops from that region. There is considerable evidence to show that there are many locations throughout the world where competition for scarce resources, particularly water has led to conflict and even war. This may be found in Southeast Asia, South America and even in North America. Currently there are conflicts over water from the Yangtze, in the Congo, Afghanistan, India, Israel, Mesopotamia and Turkey. In a recent op ed article from the LA Times, the author muses over whether the next world war will be over water. Misuse and waste is only a small portion of the issues surrounding the scarcity of water. Global warming, industrialization and massive water diversions for hydroelectric generation are also important factors in the conflict. Historically, countries have shown a greater pattern of cooperating on the shared use of water than they have been in conflict over it. However with increases in population and increased regional conflicts, this epoch of cooperation may be changing. Initiatives to collect and purify water offer great hope for the future – see my article on the Sahara Project as an example. In the future, the development and maintenance of international accords over precious water resources will become a critical factor for regional peace. How those accords will be struck and maintained is yet to be seen. In the interim, we must all do our very best to treasure this precious resource and ensure that our use of water is used in the most effective manner possible.
Also published on Medium.