Managing Water Conflict: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Managing Water Conflict: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Managing Water Conflict: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Managing Water Conflict: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Synopsis

Countries are meeting increasing water demand by building reservoirs and by diverting water from one area to another. When the water belongs to an international river system, these measures lead to riparian conflicts. However, water scarcity not only brings conflict to these regions, but also plays its part in building cooperation.

In several international river basins in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, competing and disputing riparian countries are now moving towards a co-operative sharing arrangement. The signs of agreements on water sharing may be easy, but the real problem is how to keep these arrangements on track. Such agreements can positively contribute to peace and cooperation by addressing future needs, making sustainable decisions and being progressive in their management. Managing Water Conflict looks at these current stresses and likely future scenarios for this vitally important subject.

Excerpt

There is a water crisis today. Water is not only a 'commodity', it is synonymous with life. All life on earth is dependent on water. If water is life, its possession bestows power. Water has crucial economic value, and it is a subsistence resource. Also, water has an emotional and symbolic value for certain countries and communities. The scarcity of water is increasing worldwide and its quality is continuously deteriorating. Water shortages reduce food production, aggrandize poverty, amplify disease and force people to migrate. The scarcity of water also undermines the state's capacity to govern. Nearly half of the world's population lives in international river basins. Sharing of the international rivers can therefore be a serious object of contention between riparian nations. For the last few years, 'water war' has been a topic of widespread debate. However, wars over river water are likely only under a narrow set of circumstances, as there are also more examples of water cooperation than water conflict among countries.

Nevertheless, the increasing scarcity of water raises doubt about the sustainability of these cooperative agreements over the international rivers. Water scarcity is particularly severe in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, owing to population growth, urbanization and industrialization. Whether the water crisis intensifies the dispute over the shared waters or whether it can be turned towards sustainable cooperative management of river resources, depends on many interacting processes. This book, after analysing the existing sharing mechanisms of the major international river systems in these regions, argues that the real solution lies in a comprehensive approach to river basin management.

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