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Friday 15 October 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 - Water

When thinking about this topic. The first aspect that came to my mind was the very real danger, in future years, of wars being fought over water.

It has often been said, that the next major war between nations, will be fought over the supply of water. The signs for this are already evident in various parts of the world.

Rain falls where it feels like and rivers are no respecters of national borders and therein lies the problem.

Some countries are lucky enough to be, at the moment anyway, self sufficient in water supply. But, many others have to rely on the water that flows into their country, via rivers, from across the national border.
So, what happens if that water supply dries up, or is diverted?

Just taking one major river, the River Nile, as an example, can show some of the potential problems.

The River Nile runs through many countries, most notably Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan & Egypt. But, it also has sources, or contributary lakes in Tanzania, Congo & Rwanda.
That's a lot of countries to be affected by one river. Albeit, one that has two parts. This situation is mirrored in many other parts of the world.

Egypt was called, by the Greek philospher Herodotus, "The gift of the Nile" and it most certainly is. Without the River Nile, that great ancient civilsation of pharoahs, tombs and magnificent monuments would never have existed. That's how important a river can be.

We tend to take our rivers and even our rainfall for example. But, the times they are a changing.

The rather large elephant in the room now, is climate change, global warming, or whatever you wish to call it.

This adds a whole new dimension to the future of water supplies to many countries.

It is already thought, that the current conflict taking place in Sudan, is at least partly caused by a dispute over water. This is something that is likely to be more common and widespread in the future.
And not just in Africa either.

The Middle East is another potential flash point.
It is thought that the Dead Sea could be extinct within 40 years. Although the Dead Sea is, obviously, not a river. One of the reasons for it shrinking, is the diversion of the water that would normally feed it.
The Dead Sea is supplied by the River Jordan. Another one of those rivers that has fed ancient civilisations.
The River Jordan is used by Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Israel. All, bar Lebanon, have diverted, dammed, or built reservoirs for use of the river for their own countries water supplies.

It doesn't take a genius to work out the potential future problems that could result between these countries. One of which is a nuclear power!

With the ever increasing rise in the worlds population, especially in the areas with the worst natural water supplies. And, with the added problem of the changing climate, which could result in reduced rainfall and river levels. The future does not look very good.

For me, the issue of future water supply, is as potentially dangerous, if not more so, that any threat from terrorism. In fact, it could even lead to future terrorism.

The time for action, is now.

But, what can we do?


  1. Definitely, water has and will be the cause of wars, large and small.

    The 20th century was largely seen as the struggle between the east and west; capitalism versus communism. The struggles of the 21st century will likely be between the north and south; those with developed resources and those without, and water is a huge part of that equation.

    I'll be getting my Blog Action Day post ready shortly...

  2. I think you're right. Unfortunately, most governments are still focussing on those old enemies.