“The next war among countries will not be for oil or territorial borders, but only for the problem of water “.
Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
“Indeed water is already a catalyst for regional conflict”
Quote from the influential head of environmental research institute Worldwatch, Lester Brown.
1,5billion of inhabitants do not have access to drinking water…
In 1995, Ismail Serageldin, vice president of the World Bank, made a prediction about the future of war: “If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water”.
The world's supply of fresh water is running out and already one person in five has no access to safe drinking water. Indeed,many signs suggest that Ismail Serageldin was right and stories of water shortages are making headlines in major newspapers over the five continents. Water wars already surround us, although they are not always easily recognizable as water wars. For example the competition for water from the River Jordan was one of the primary causes of the 1967 war between Israel and Palestine.
The likelycauses of water wars are in countries where rivers or lakes are shared by more than one country. Indeed, there is already fierce national competition over water for irrigation and power generation as in the Nile river basin.
The forecasts predict that water will in certain critical but arid parts of the world, cost as much per barrel as oil. Water is in crisis in China, in Southeast Asia, insouthwest America, in North Africa, and in many parts of Africa except the Congo, Niger, and Zambezi basins. Even in Europe, drought is no longer an unknown phenomenon like England, where water tables were dropping throughout the early 1990s.
Everywhere we look, there are signs that the global water supply is in peril:
* The level of the Dead Sea plummeted more than 10 meters during the 20thcentury.
* The Sahara is expanding dangerously. Four thousand years ago it was full of lakes.
* The water level of the Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh-water lake in the world, is sinking steadily. At the same time, the quality of its water deteriorates as effluent from factories pours into it.
I chose to tackle this issue because it is a topic of current interest, and I want to show how conflictscan emerge from such a basic resource. Indeed, in Western countries, we are not aware of the importance of this problem because we have never thought that water could run out. We open our tap, and water flows. But in some African regions for instance, the nearest water point is 50 miles away. This is why, first of all I will briefly describe the water crisis in Africa, and then I will zoom onEast Africa over the Nile’s battle.
The table below and the following map show that the situation is alarming and the predictions for 2025 are very pessimistic.
Source : http://www.tdr.cesca.es/TESIS_U Source : http://www.africanwater.org/SoicalResourceScarcity.htm
I°) Water crisis in Africa.
The major causes of water scarcity in Africa are theirregularity of precipitation (too high or too low), the multiplication of droughts in the last years, the irregularity of the renewable water resources repartition, and the fact that more than 60% of the continent is arid or semi-arid. Add to that several countries sharing a same watercourse and the situation will explode.
Furthermore, “Irrigated agriculture, which represents the bulk of thedemand for water in these countries, is also usually the first sector affected by water shortage and increased scarcity, resulting in a decreased capacity to maintain per capita food production while meeting water needs for domestic, industrial and environmental purposes”.
As the map above shows it, Africa, a continent already plagued by conflict, can look forward to even greater discord during...