Water conflicts are increasing in most parts of the world, with Asia being the hotspot with the highest number of conflicts; and these conflicts have only increased in the recent past.
As per an article published on Statista, in 2021, at least 41 people were killed, and over 200 others were injured in a violent border conflict over access to water resources in the region between the republics of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
This conflict is just a part of several larger water conflicts in the Asian region, and with China controlling the largest and most important rivers in the region, unrest in India and Bangladesh has been rising.
Most experts believe that the conflicts surrounding water will intensify in the coming years.
Brahma Chellaney, a geostrategist and author of the article China is waging a water war on India, wrote, "By embarking on a dangerous game of water poker, Beijing has demonstrated how the denial of hydrological data in the critically important monsoon season amounts to the use of water as a political tool against a downstream country. Indeed, despite supplying data in past years, China's lack of transparency raised questions. After all, like rice traded on the world market, hydrological data comes in different grades and qualities — from good, reliable data to inferior data and broken data."
"China's latest action actually violates two bilateral MOUs of 2013 and a 2014 accord, which obligate it to transfer hydrological data to India from three upstream monitoring stations in Tibet every year from May 15 to October 15. No data has been transferred thus far this year, although India, in keeping with the MOUs, paid for the data in advance. While China sells hydrological data to downriver countries, India provides such data free to both the downstream neighbours- Pakistan and Bangladesh," Chellaney further added.
Africa is facing the world's second-largest water conflict after Asia.
Ethiopia plans to build a gigantic dam on the Blue Nile, flowing through its territory at the cost of more than five billion dollars.
This project has been causing particular worry in downstream Egypt, where the Nile water has been the country's livelihood for centuries.
The source distinguishes the following different types of conflict:
- Trigger: Conflicts over water control, economic or physical access to water, or even water scarcity trigger violence.
- Weapon: Water resources or water systems are used as an instrument or weapon in a violent conflict.
- Casualty: Loss of water resources or water systems due to becoming intentional or incidental targets of violence.
When the topic is water, how could we possibly not recall Samul Taylor Coleridge's famous lines from his poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink, Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.
Even though the poem's context was different, this is gradually going to be a reality in the 'extremely near future. To imagine a life without water is simply unthinkable.
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