I have chosen the thesis statement: ”Water as a resource will become a significant factor when it comes to conflicts between nations and ethnic groups”.
My presentation form is an essay, and in the text, I have tried to illustrate the following:
The unfair distribution of water in the world today
Why water is such an important resource
What impact the lack of water has on the millennium development goals
The conflict over the water
What we can do to improve the situation
Once, my grandfather told me a story from his childhood. Even though he was only ten years old, the memory stayed with him all his life. The year was 1925, and that summer, after a period with dry and hot weather, one of the neighbours was caught using a well without asking the owner.
This situation was unheard of. There were unwritten rules that everybody knew; if there were shortage of water, they would share. When looking back at history, water has not been cause to wars. Even though there have been discussions, water has been regarded a gift from nature and something that belongs to everybody, and people have managed to agree on how to use this resource.
But for the last decades the situation has taken a radical change. In Africa, Central Asia, Western Asia and America, some of the countries are arguing fiercely over access to rivers and inland seas. It is mainly freshwater that is the centre of attention, and confrontations arise as the water shortages grow. Water is essential for human survival and it’s also an important factor in food production, industry, generating power and maintaining health and medical service. Altogether: we need water to exist.
The struggle to secure people all over the world with enough fresh water is therefore extremely important. It has been one of the bright spots in the work with the Millennium Development Goals. Now we experience that many developing countries are on track to halve the number of people without access to clean water by 2015. Since 1990, 1.6 billion people have got access to clean water. This is very encouraging numbers, yet it is not the full picture. Nearly one billion people still haven’t got access to clean water, and we have to admit that there is a clearly unfair distribution of water in the world.
So, what is the cause of this? Parts of this unfairness is not manmade, but results of geographic situations. When a number of nations make use of common water recourses like rivers, it is challenging to avoid conflicts. An example is the nations in northeast Africa that is depending on the Nile for their livelihood. Some 4000 factories are discharging their wastes into the Nile, making the water a source to many types of water-borne diseases. 5000 children die every day from drinking dirty water. Water pollution also ruins the livelihood for fishermen, and makes the soil close to the river unfit for farming. This contamination can be understood based on ignorance or even lack of money.
What does the lack of water lead to? As I mentioned earlier the fight over water has increased the last decades. We need more water, and therefore it has become a recourse worth fighting for. Today there are many countries worldwide that are involved in disputes over access to freshwater. Some of these conflicts are well known such as the disagreement between Israel, Syria, Jordan and Palestine over the Jordan River and the water recourses on the Golan Heights. The Mekong River is the cause for disputes between China, Thailand and Indochina. And there are similar conflicts many other places around the world.
Since more than 50 countries located on five continents might soon be caught up in water disputes, something has to be done. If they move quickly to establish agreements on how to share reservoirs, rivers and underground water aquifers, there is still hope. A local inventor from Sandnes has made a contribution to improve the situation. He has invented the so called “Miracle-membrane” which combines water to the soil and makes it possible to cultivate even in desiccated areas. But international action and support is also necessary to improve the situation. Aid should be given to poor countries to develop purge systems, drill wells and make plans for how to use water reserves. To meet the goals we also have to make an effort regarding our own consumption. For example it requires 15 000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef, a pretty high price to pay for a good meal.
”Water will be the new oil”, former UN Secretary General, Mr. Boutros Gahli, once said. Among people who live for less than one dollar a day, clean water is more expensive than fuel for cars. What we take for granted is a question of life or death to others.
“Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.” William Ashworth
Even though it doesn’t affect us directly, we can not ignore it.