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2 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Water Resources Induced Conflicts and Politics

By Shishir Reza
Water Resources Induced Conflicts and Politics

‘Hydropolitics: Conflicts over water as a development constraint’, edited by Leif Ohlsson, a professor at University of Gothenburg, Sweden, was published by University Press Limited (UPL) in 1995.

The research-based book deals with the role of water and origin of disputes, water as source of life, the Nile, the Arab-Israel conflict, hydrological security of Turkey, Syria and Iraq, domestic and international water politics of India, cooperation or conflict over water, and finally, looming water crisis.

 The book informs there are approximately 276 trans-boundary river basins on the planet, with a geographical area covering almost half of the earth’s surface. Nearly 145 states have territory in these basins, and 30 countries lie entirely within them. But around two-thirds of the world’s trans-boundary rivers do not have a cooperative management framework.

History shows that since 1948, the world has faced 37 incidents of acute conflict over water. Many of the world's great rivers flow across national frontiers, and over the centuries, there have been disputes. These have only sharpened as environmental issues have compounded age-old conflicts over water-sharing.

The writers inform that some two dozen countries are already classified as water-scarce and these are areas as diverse as Israel, southern California and even the Netherlands. The book mentions that fresh water shortages are becoming a major cause of conflict, both domestically and between states. In addition, the growing world population, further spread of irrigated agriculture and industrialisation will all make increasing demands on depleting water resources.

The researchers also explain a number of success stories of regional cooperation for management of international rivers, such as the Mekong River Commission (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam); Convention and Protection of the Rhine (Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland under EU Framework); Nile Basin Initiative (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo and Eritrea-observer); and Senegal River Basin Water and Environmental Management Project (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal).

The writers forecast that in 2025, two-thirds of the countries in Africa will experience severe water shortages. Countries with a potential drought problem, countries prone to water stress _ Denmark, France, Botswana, Iraq, Poland, and countries threatened by water scarcity _ Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Rwanda, Malawi, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kenya, etc.

The researchers analyse multiple water functions: health function _ clean water is essential to human health; habitat function _ the health of aquatic ecosystem is essential for fish and seafood supply and a major determinant of biodiversity; two production functions _ biomass production, necessary for supply of food, fuel wood and timber; social production _ since industrial development has traditionally been driven by easy access to water.

 In addition, two carrier functions _ as a carrier of solutes and silt, water is active in generating environmental problems through its erosive force, and the disturbances that follow water mobility in the global water conflict; and psychological function _ which makes water bodies, water sights, fountains, etc, fundamental human preferences, are discussed.  

Analysts from diverse range of areas _ hydrology, international relations, development studies, conflict resolution and anthropology _ address two major themes: water availability as a constraint on development and water scarcity as a source of international conflict.

 The edited volume is a great analysis on water resources and global water conflicts. The book is very much helpful for environmentalists, ecologists, water resources specialists, water conflict negotiators and students of water resources engineering.

Photos: Internet.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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