Water is going to be new battleground.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
The battles of yesterday were fought over land. Those of today are over energy. But the battles of tomorrow may be over water. Along with population growth and increasing per capita water consumption, massive pollution of the world's surface water systems has placed a great strain on remaining supplies of clean fresh water. Global deforestation, destruction of wetlands, dumping of pesticides and fertilizer into waterways, and global warming are all taking a terrible toll on the Earth's fragile water system.
The combination of increasing demand and shrinking supply has attracted the interest of global corporations who want to sell water for a profit. The water industry is touted by the World Bank as a potential trillion-dollar industry. Water has become the “blue gold” of the 21st century.
In any parts of the world, one major river supplies water to multiple countries. Climate change, pollution and population growth are putting a significant strain on supplies. In some areas renewable water reserves are in danger of dropping below the 500 cubic meters per person per year considered a minimum for a functioning society.
In recent times, several studies around the globe show that climatic change is likely to impact significantly upon freshwater resources availability. In
Due to warming and climate change rainfall trend has been badly affected worldwide. This change has adversely affected the groundwater recharge.
Water scarcity is expected to become an even more important problem than it is today.
In a case study of Jharkhand state of
The process of urbanization and industrialization from last 20 years has caused changes in the water table of
By 2100, water scarcity could impact between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people, says a leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due to be published in April 2007. The report focuses on the consequences of global warming and options for adapting to them. In February 2007 the panel released a report on the scientific basis of climate change.
The IPCC predicts critical water shortages in
Major cities worldwide may face a water shortage crisis by 2050 if relevant governments don't react quickly. The water shortage will mostly affect basic daily needs such as drinking, cooking, bathing and washing clothes, and the poor residents of the world's major cities in developing countries are the ones who will suffer most.
"By 2050, big cities that will not have enough water available nearby include
There are several principal manifestations of the water crisis.
- Inadequate access to safe drinking water for about 884 million people.
- Inadequate access to water for sanitation and waste disposal for 2.5 billion people.
- Groundwater over drafting (excessive use) leading to diminished agricultural yields.
- Overuse and pollution of water resources harming biodiversity.
- Regional conflicts over scarce water resources sometimes resulting in warfare.
Potential Hot Spots:
Eastern Europe: Decades of pollution have fouled the Danube, leaving down-stream countries, such as
Middle East: The
Former Soviet Union: The
There are many other countries of the world that are severely impacted with regard to human health and inadequate drinking water. The following is a partial list of some of the countries with significant populations (numerical population of affected population listed) whose only consumption is of contaminated water:
Water stress is set to become Asia’s defining crisis of the twenty-first century, creating obstacles to continued rapid economic growth, stoking interstate tensions over shared resources, exacerbating long time territorial disputes, and imposing further hardships on the poor.
The poor management of river basins, environmentally unsustainable irrigation practices, an overuse of groundwater, and the contamination of water sources have all helped aggravate Asian water woes. The over exploitation of subterranean water in the large parts of the
RIVERS are the lifeblood of the
As per a survey of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), there are three hundred and ten rivers in
As per a report of BWDB,
Apart from the scourge of Farakka barrage, a new dam, named Tipaimukh dam, is under construction in
As water distress intensifies and global warming accelerates, local, national, and interstate disputes over water are likely to become endemic in
Water, for its part, could trigger increased conflicts within and between states, and open new political disputes in
The sharing of waters of the river Kaveri had been the bone of contention of a serious conflict between the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The genesis of this disparity, itself, lies in two controversial agreements, one signed in 1892 and another in 1924, between the Madras Presidency and the
The state of Karnataka feels that it has not got its due share of water utilization viv a vis Tamil Nadu. Karnataka claims that these agreements were skewed heavily in favour of the Madras Presidency, and has since demanded a renegotiated settlement based on "equitable sharing of the waters". Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, pleads that it has already developed almost 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land and as a result has come to depend very heavily on the existing pattern of usage. Any change in this pattern, it says, will adversely affect the livelihood of millions of farmers in the state.
Parched throats in Rajasthan are crying hoarse over
The issue has the potential of starting a water war between the two neighbours after Ashk Ali Tak, a Congress MP from Rajasthan, raised the issue in Rajya Sabha recently. Tak says
Such is the deep nexus between water and global warming that the increased frequency of climate change-driven extreme weather events like hurricanes, droughts and flooding, along with the projected rise of ocean levels, is likely to spur greater interstate and intrastate migration- especially of the poor and the vulnerable- from delta and coastal regions to the hinterland.
As the planet warms, water grow scarcer. Global warming will endanger the monsoon, which effects much greater than those of drought alone-particularly in
The declining snow cover and receding glaciers in the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir could trigger renewed hostilities between India and Pakistan, neighbouring states in the South Asian region that are at odds on a host of issues.
The two countries share the
The Indus water system is the lifeline for
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-sharing treaty between the
Until now, the Indus Water Treaty has worked well, but the impact of climate change would test the sanctity of this treaty. Under the treaty signed in 1960, the two countries also share five tributaries of the Indus river, namely, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and
Transboundary water sharing between
The sharing of the Ganges waters is a long-standing issue between
The Farakka Barrage is a dam on the Bhagirathi river located in the Indian state of West Bengal, roughly 10 km (6.2 mi) from the border with
In some areas, more destructive river flooding is also predicted, for instance through a heavier than usual monsoon. In
Rising sea levels also threaten delta areas-such as the Mekong in the
The major watersheds of the country all suffer severe pollution. Three hundred million people lack access to safe drinking water. Desertification, worsened by excessive withdrawals of surface and groundwater, is growing in northern
The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ) estimates that hundreds of millions of Chinese are drinking water contaminated with inorganic pollutants such as arsenic and excessive ﬂuoride, as well as toxins from untreated factory wastewater, inorganic agricultural chemicals, and leeching landﬁll waste . In an extreme indication of the growing concern over water quality, local farmers in contaminated regions grow grain with poor quality water, sell that grain, and purchase grain from other parts of
The shrinking of
In one of the most serious examples of regional water conﬂict, there is a long history of violence over allocations of water from the
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (L.T.T.E.) in the year 2006 shut down the Maavilaru dam's sluice gate near the town of
The crisis over water in the
In addition to its scarcity, much of Middle Eastern water stems from three major waterways: the Tigris-Euphrates, Nile and
Along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers,
The historically troubled relations between
The state of water resources has significantly affected the nature and stability of the current Saudi regime. Though buoyed by oil revenues, which have facilitated massive desalinization efforts,
When President Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty with
From Turkey, the southern bastion of Nato, down to Oman, looking out over the Indian Ocean, the countries of the Middle East are worrying today about how they will satisfy the needs of their burgeoning industries, or find drinking water for the extra millions born each year, not to mention agriculture, the main cause of depleting water resources in the region.
All these nations depend on three great river systems, or vast underground aquifers, some of which are of `fossil water' that cannot be renewed.
Libya's population of 4.5 million in 1990 is projected to increase to 12.9 million in 2025 and the oil revenues enabled the government to increase dependency on desalination, but they diverted - or rather wasted massive resources on a white elephant, the great man made river to mine fossil water in the south.
The main conflicts in
Potential 'water wars' are likely in areas where rivers and lakes are shared by more than one country, according to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) report.
The possible flashpoints are the Nile,
The report predicts population growth and economic development will lead to nearly one in two people in
With a growing population and a drying climate,
The irony is that Australians live on the driest inhabited continent in the world - only
Water restrictions have been enacted in many cities and regions in
Nearly every Australian city will have to find new water supplies over the next decade as climate change and population growth stretch the nation's already limited water resources. The annual report by the Water Services Association of Australia found that after a decade of punishing drought, authorities in all of
Tashkent fears that those two countries' use of water from Central Asia's two great rivers -- the Syr Darya and Amu Darya -- to generate power will diminish the amount reaching Uzbekistan, whose 28 million inhabitants to make up Central Asia's largest population.
After the collapse of communism in the 1990s, a dispute arose between
The distribution of water resources in
Water is used for a variety of purposes in
In countries such as
Many parts of
There is a famous Chinese proverb that warns “not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also.”
And with global water shortages on the horizon, climate change supporters say an extreme response will be needed from international governments to stem the potential for conflict it will create around the world.
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Eng, M., and Ma, J. 2006. Building Sustainable Solutions to Water: Conﬂicts in the
Guo, Q. 2007. Digging deeper for cleaner water. China Ministry of Water Resources. April 24, 2007.http://www.mwr.gov.cn/english/20070424/83634.asp.