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Water/Waste Processing e-News / Drinking Water

Water scarcity could lead to political conflicts, expert warns

June 26, 2014
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Euphrates River <photocredit>silverjohn/iStockphoto/Thinkstock</photocredit>

Water shortage may turn into a serious geopolitical problem in the years to come as access to fresh water will become increasingly strained, putting countries up against one another. This stark warning comes from the president of the World Water Council, Benedito Braga, who warned in an interview with Bloomberg that the biggest risk for conflict is predicted around the Tigris-Euphrates and Nile River basins.

When major water sources like rivers are shared between two or more countries, problems may arise, especially in times of climate change and water stress. In fact, the first warning signs of tension regarding water scarcity could already be noticed, Braga stated. Ethiopia is planning to build the largest power plant in Africa, but Egypt has strongly criticized the project, claiming that the facility would reduce water flow of the Nile to farmers. At first glance, the political conflict in Syria has nothing to do with water, but actually it is being aggravated by drought and poor water management that has led to groundwater depletion, Bloomberg reported.

Another possible conflict may occur due to the small amount of snowfall in Turkey last winter. As a result, the country might have to use water from its reservoirs for irrigation, potentially affecting water supplies downstream the Tigris-Euphrates -- a basin that Turkey shares with Iran, Iraq and Syria. All these are examples of potential water shortage crises which need to be managed with care in order to minimize the risk of other types of conflicts, Braga added.

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