Okuma süresi: 5 dakika

Water as a Peace-building Tool

Everybody knows how vital the water is for living things. Water cannot be comparable to any other commodity such as gold, petroleum or diamond. Even though the world is surrounded by %70 of seas only %2 is a drinkable water for all of us. That’s what makes water rare and obviously no one can go without it up to three days. Nations not only need to be careful of not polluting this priceless source but also search for agreements to tackle the water sharing problems. In two exemplary cases (Uganda and Israeli-Palestinian) solidarity played a mutual support role for a common interest.

The Factual Approach to Water

In India, Jordan and Syria some villagers must travel up to 40 km to arrive at the water supply. More than 1.2 billion people today lack access to clean drinking water. 1 out of 8 people search water sources every day. 1 out of 6 people have no access to a toilet in the world. Every 20 second a child dies because of an unclean water. %50 of the sub-Saharan African population don’t have access at all to clean water.

Consequently, fight over water becomes today’s reality.

We observe 14 of the world’s 20 mega-cities started to experience water scarcity. Since the beginning of 2000’s cities such as Los Angeles, São Paulo, Cape Town, California, Kuwait City, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Gaza city search solutions for their water insufficiency. Lake Chad, Aral Sea, Lake Popoo, Urmia, the Great Salt Lake, Burdur, Egirdir, Aksehir, Acigol, Tanganyika, Assal, Faguibine, The Dead Sea and Titicaca are examples of lakes which shrink and hereby reducing flows into water levels.

Door Steps to Global Water Crisis 2030

According to the experts in one side the planet is getting dry, the demand for water will arise %40 by 2030. The scenario of 2 billion new people joining us, will increase the water demand drastically even before 2030. This urge of “not having enough” vital source of life, forces the world to form a better solidarity. Starting from today we should use water sources carefully!

Demographic increase has repelled UN to define the access to water and sanitary as a human right.

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4 Main Area Of Water Disputes

Water conflict generally occurs in four main levels on the world: internationally, globally, locally and national level.

International: The conflict is between different states over the use of shared water resources. Examples include tension and hostilities between upstream/downstream states. Over the use of shared rivers and water including underground aquifers creating threats. Nile basin water utilization between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is an example of international water dispute. Mekong River Basin dispute between China and Laos is also counted as an international level of water conflict.

Global: The conflict is between marginalized and affluent populations, in which conflicts result when resources are distributed from marginalized populations on the periphery to more privileged sectors comprising the core. We can show trans-boundary water disputes between Afghanistan and Iran as an example of a global problem or even armed conflict involve like in the example of Somalia.

Local: The conflict is between societal groups competing for water in a specific area. It can be also be between a state and its citizens in a defined area. Cauvery River between the Indian states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu or water privatization in Cochabamba, Bolivia are examples of that type of local conflict.

National: The conflict is between different interest groups especially in relation to national policies affecting water management. [1] Yemen anti-state grievances can be an example of national water conflict.

The world’s fresh water is very unevenly distributed. Look at water rich countries:

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Before even talking about product efficiency and less environmental damages, it is the duty of water independent countries to share its resources with its neighbors. Starting with the basics specially for those whose main need is water, it can also bring peace to  other types of conflicts.

Optimist Role of Politics on Global Water Crisis

Maximizing utility as a consumer making high profit as producer stays as the biggest aim of capitalism. Sharing our surplus water with other countries, without thinking about high profits will save ourselves. Sharing will fundamentally increase our regions technical, economic, political and ethical values. Because water is life, it shouldn’t be seen as an exchange commodity. Water is the key for continuation of our basic existence. Regional sustainable development on equal water sharing will bring region wealth. From bottom to top, it will save all forms of life on earth.

According to the ScienceDaily, approximately 20% of the global population has experienced a significant increase in water availability due to human interventions, such as building water storage and alleviating water scarcity by common projects. The canals that have constructed to transfer water or man-made reservoirs are other examples. Humans should be proud of themselves. But there is still alot of more to do.

Reconciliation needs efforts in order to create mutually acceptable resources through win-win policy making. Regional approaches to the common problems is essential to understand firstly that water can serve as means for reconciliation. For example water sharing agreements between countries that share the same river have helped to avoid about 1,800 conflicts in the past 50 years, according to the World Water Council (WWC).[2]

Water: Conflict Resolution in Uganda Case Study

At the national level, many of the conflicts that Uganda has experienced, including the conflicts in Northern and North-Eastern Uganda, have been fueled by certain groups or areas feeling marginalized and neglected by central government. There are several examples of such conflicts across Uganda, including competition for water resources in the water-stressed cattle corridor areas which lead to fighting. And there are tensions between cultivators and pastorals in Kasese, Sembabule, and Luweero. Some politicians told people that they failed to get water facilities because they voted for the ‘wrong’ person or belong to the ‘wrong’ ethnic group. Today thanks to the establishment of the Umbrella Organisations for Water and Sanitation (UOWS) in some regions of Uganda appears to have been quite successful so far in co-ordinating and supporting different private companies and NGOs involved in operation. [3]

Water: Tool for Peace-building in Israeli-Palestinian Case

According to the World Health Organization %90 of Gaza water is unfit for  human consumption. That’s why in that region conflict over water was natural. But Israel can produce %50 more drinkable water than needed by its population thanks to desalination plants. According to the water project called Red SeaDead Sea Conveyance signed in 2017, Israel started to sell 32 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinian Authority from Mediterranean desalination plants. 10 million to Gaza and 22 million to to the West Bank in 2017. [1]The $900m pipeline project is expected to be completed in five years. [2]

It shows that good water sharing agreements such as Israel and Palestinian, can bring peace before even waiting for the water wars start in 2030.

Conclusion

Water can be a source of conflict or a real catalyst for peacebuilding.

Rivers and streams don’t accept human made frontiers. Only decision makers can find optimal solutions on how to manage regional water resources. Solidarity between neighbors can tackle future water problems. In our century global population has experienced a significant increase in water availability due to human interventions. With the power of negotiation and mediation there is still hope to overcome water scarcity before it arrives in 2030. Uganda and Israel case studies are exemplary in that dream of world free of water disputes.

APPENDIX:

[1] https://www.crs.org/sites/default/files/tools-research/water-and-conflict.pdf

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-world-water-forum-water-confli/river-sharing-deals-mean-water-war-is-a-myth-says-global-water-body-idUSKBN1GZ2DX

[3] https://www.saferworld.org.uk/resources/publications/325-water-provision-as-a-peacebuilding-tool 

[4] https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-palestinians-reach-landmark-water-deal-for-west-bank-gaza-strip/

[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/israel-palestinian-authority-reach-water-sharing-deal-170713165223323.html