News / Asia

Expert Says Cooperation Can Resolve Global Water Scarcities

Expert Says Cooperation Can Resolve Global Water Scarcitiesi
X
March 22, 2013 4:54 PM
Uncertain access to fresh water is among the world’s greatest security threats. That’s according to the worldwide assessment delivered by U.S. intelligence agencies to Congress earlier in March. Water shortages, increasing pollution, flooding and climate change can all heighten instability within and between countries. But on this World Water Day (March 22), the United Nations says water scarcity offers opportunities for collaboration as well as conflict. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Expert Says Cooperation Can Resolve Global Water Scarcities
Uncertain access to fresh water is among the world’s greatest security threats. That’s according to the worldwide assessment delivered by U.S. intelligence agencies to Congress earlier in March.

Water shortages, increasing pollution, flooding and climate change can all heighten instability within and between countries. But on this World Water Day, March 22, the United Nations says water scarcity offers opportunities for collaboration as well as conflict.

A barbed-wired fence divides farmlands in India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbors with a history of violent conflict.

But the waters that feed them know no boundaries. The Indus River basin spans both countries. Both rely on these waters for irrigation, drinking water and hydroelectric power.

But most their water disputes have ended with handshakes, not violence, thanks to a 1960 treaty, says environmental security expert David Michel at the Stimson Center, a Washington research group.

"The Indus Water Treaty was developed and signed largely due to the parties’ recognition of the possible consequences of failing to come to some agreement on how to manage this river that crosses their borders," said Michel.

Population with access to clean waterPopulation with access to clean water
x
Population with access to clean water
Population with access to clean water
But managing river resources may get more difficult in the coming years. Both countries are growing rapidly, raising demand for food, water and energy. And there is no additional water in the river basin.

Michel says it’s not only happening in South Asia.

"We are increasingly bumping up against the limits of available renewable water supplies in many regions of the world," he said.

On Southeast Asia’s Mekong River, plans for 12 electricity-generating dams are raising concerns for those downstream who depend on the river for their fields and fisheries.

And rights to rivers and underground water are flashpoints in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Challenge of sharing resources

Sharing these resources will be a growing challenge as climate change shifts precipitation patterns, creating winners and losers. But that’s not all, Michel says.

"Climate change is not the only, and is not even the most important water pressure in the immediate future. Population growth is really driving the water resources challenge for the coming couple of decades," he said.

Larger populations mean more demand, but also more pollution. Michel says even contaminated water may be in greater demand.

"Water scarcity, water stress, will often drive people to use more polluted water sources. One very, very troubling consequence is the impact on public health," he said.

Waterborne diseases cost India alone more than 6 percent of its gross domestic product each year. And pollution flows downstream.

Although these pressures raise the threat of conflict over water, Michel says wars are not inevitable.

"The pie to be divided grows substantially with more cooperation. And countries - even those that are often at odds - they recognize that," he said.

So Michel says he sees a future with fewer water wars and more handshakes.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Resolve Nuclear Deal Issues

Leaders find resolution on issues of liability of suppliers to India in event of nuclear accident, US demands to track whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid