Global scarcity of key life source far worse than thought, new study finds
Andrea Germanos, staff writer
A new analysis reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population—and will be “one of the most difficult and important challenges of this century.”
Grassroots action has backed down the city’s aggressive water shutoffs. Larry Gabriel
This article appears in Cities Are Now, the Winter 2015 issue of YES! Magazine.
The Detroit water-rights movement really got into gear when Charity Hicks was taken to jail while trying to stop shut-offs on her block. “It started a windstorm of people rising up and speaking out, knowing what was happening regarding the water,” says Detroit poet and activist Tawana Petty. “She was always instrumental in the water struggle but her personal experience brought it home to everyone.”
Technicians from Peru’s national water authority, ANA, inspecting a polluted stretch of river in the department of Huancavelica in south-central Peru. Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS
LIMA, Jun 10 2014 ([ http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/06/peru-needs-to-know-more-about-its-water-in-order-to-supply-more-people-with-the-valuable-resource/ ]IPS) – Peru urgently needs a national plan for the management of water over the next two decades, one that will take into account the effects of climate change and the social and environmental conflicts triggered by problems over water. In his office surrounded by papers, maps and graphics, Humberto Cruz, an engineer with the national water authority, ANA, told IPS that the country desperately needs a plan to improve the unequal distribution of water and its inefficient use in this South American country.
Drought, Water and Agricultural Management, and Climatic Conditions are Factors in the Syrian Conflict
May 28, 2014, Oakland, CA: A new research paper evaluates the role of regional drought, unsustainable water management policies, and climatic conditions in contributing to the severe conflict in Syria in the past few years. The paper (“Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict in Syria,” by Dr. Peter H. Gleick), coming out in the July issue of the American Meteorological Society journal Weather, Climate, and Society, concludes that the many factors influencing the severe violence in Syria include long-standing political, religious, and social ideological disputes; economic dislocations from both global and regional factors; and the consequences of water shortages influenced by drought, ineffective watershed management, and the growing influence of climate variability and change. Improvements in water-use efficiency and productivity in agriculture, better management and monitoring of groundwater resources, and comprehensive international agreements on managing and sharing the rivers that cross political borders are key to mitigating these risks.
Starting in 2006 and lasting through 2011, Syria suffered the worst long-term drought and the most severe set of crop failures in recorded history. The decrease in water availability, water mismanagement, agricultural failures, and related economic deterioration contributed to population dislocations and the migration of rural communities to nearby cities. These factors further contributed to urban unemployment, economic dislocations, food insecurity for more than a million people, and subsequent social unrest. Continue reading Water and Conflict in Syria→
‘Great political clout’ of energy industry trumps those in need of drinking water
– Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
“There is an increasing potential for serious conflict between power generation, other water users and environmental considerations,” says the World Water Development Report 2014: Water and Energy (pdf), published on the eve of World Water Day.
The energy sector, which has “great political clout,” the report states, is set to consume an unfair share of this limited resource, “despite ongoing progress in the development of renewable.” The report continues:
Water, once a synonym of life, is fast becoming the basis for disrupting life as we perceive it on Earth.
Scenario 1: Faced with a task of feeding 8 billion (and counting) hungry mouths, agriculture is becoming more and more intense, with water usage (70 percent of the world’s freshwater is used in agriculture) promising to go up drastically. However, sinking ground water levels, contamination due to indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides, and pollution have all combined to put severe caps on this front.
Scenario 2: Rapid urbanization, migration, and a loss of opportunities on the other hand is forcing migrations of unprecedented scales – people who have to be provided access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
Nairobi — The discovery of the biggest aquifer yet in Kenya’s history could soon put an end to the drought residents of Northern Kenya experience perennially.
The aquifer discovered by UNESCO in Lotikipi of Turkana County is said to have the potential to grow Kenya’s water reserves by about 10 percent for the next 70 years at an abstraction rate of 1.2 billion cubic metres annually.
Despite being in the path of this huge project, the people have very little information about the dam and the impacts it will bring to their lives. The situation is the same everywhere in Africa where poor communities are relocated to make way for huge infrastructure projects
Rudo Sanyanga Africa’s poorest nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), plans to build the world’s largest (and most expensive) hydropower dam, Grand Inga on the Congo River’s Inga Falls. A day before I set forth for the DRC, the huge project took a significant step forward with the signing of a “cooperation treaty” by the DRC and South African governments. The treaty makes South Africa the principal purchaser of the power generated at Inga III power plant, the first phase of the Grand Inga. The country will buy 2500 MW of the total 4800 MW from the proposed dam. The balance will be sold to mining companies in Katanga in southeastern DRC. As expected, the signing event, held in Paris in May, attracted a lot of media coverage and excitement within the government circles in the DRC and internationally. It made headline news within the DRC for a week running. My mission was to see for myself what challenges that damming the Congo River at Inga Falls would bring. Continue reading Will Congo’s poor benefit from world’s largest dam project?→