Sunday, February 3

Water wars or water peace is in our hands

Since Old Testament times, water supplies have proved a source of conflict and peace. The scary reality is that water is becoming so scarce in many parts of the world that people are fighting resulting into big conflicts.

Representatives of more than hundred nations have been meeting and the rich countries are being accused of adding to the water crisis. Poor nations use just one-thirtieth of the water of many developed countries.

Water will be the source of the world's next big conflict if nations don't take action now. One flush of a Western toilet uses as much water as the average person in the developing world uses for a whole day for washing, drinking, cleaning and cooking. Jamal Saghir estimates that half of the world's population - mostly in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia - may face severe water shortages by 2025.

Ever since the demand for water has hit the limits of limited supply, possible conflicts are brewing between nations that share transboundary freshwater reserves. More than 50 countries on five continents are caught up in water quarrel. Awaited solution to diffuse water conflict can be inevitable with cooperation within the country and between the countries. The laws are not enough in defining and regulating the use of shared water resources.

Long back the science editor of the Guardian reported that two billion people rely on underground water supplies. As water tables sink worldwide, experts worry that the most vulnerable population - small farmers in poor rural areas - will suffer the most. Our water situation is an emergency, and it should be dealt with as such.

The water giants are seeking to control the system around the world. They treat water as a commodity and awarding its control to big intercontinental companies. Due to increased consumption and pollution, water has become the “blue gold” of the 21st century. Yet instead of ensuring the fundamental human right to access clean water, global trade agreements follow the dominant economic philosophy of the “Washington Consensus.”

The Middle East thirst became the deadly thirst when in an attempt to secure its water supply Israel signed an “arms-for-water” deal with Turkey in 2004.

Still water is becoming a matter of life and death. One out of two Africans will be living in countries facing water scarcity. Why can’t we have improved water management, as well as external financing for water infrastructure projects? What if "Attitude and behavior problems" on the part of national leaders lie at the heart of the worldwide water crisis? Lack of access to water is creating a non-human environment. It’s leading to frustration, poverty and finally fostering terrorism. Why cant water work as a pathway to peace? Why can’t Countries build trust and prevent conflict by coming together to jointly manage their shared water resources. Why cant a process of establishing cooperation begin on time before serious conflict is blown up which can make it difficult for nations to sit around a negotiating table together.The Indus basin offers a good example. After their independence in 1947, India and Pakistan nearly went to war over the waters of the Indus but Eugene Black used his good offices to mediate the dispute, a long but ultimately successful effort that culminated in the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Water wars or water peace is in our hands I think.

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