A2 Edexcel Geography WATER CONFLICTS (Contested Planet)

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(2) Water Conflicts
Water, like energy and food, is a fundamental resource for all living organisms. A major problem now facing water is the
predictions of a major world water gap between growing demands and diminishing supplies. The exponential
population boom and growth (possibilities of an additional 3 billion people by 2025), economic development (in RICs and
NICs) and rising standards of living, all will inevitably increase the demand for water; depleting the supply further. If we
follow the business as usual approach, there will be a 56% increase in demand when all water uses (agriculture,
industry, domestic, HEP) are combined. Even with more sustainable use there is still an estimated 20% increase in
demand predicted. This will lead to conflicts between the various users.
Water supplies are unevenly spread across the world. 2/3 of the world's population lives in areas receiving only 25% of
the world's annual rainfall. This resource is a second potential cause of conflict between countries and regions with a
water deficit and those with surpluses, especially when they share a very large river basin.
Third underlying conflict arises from the water availability gap between the `have' and `have nots' largely in the
developing nations (esp. sub-Saharan Africa) and `haves' in developed nations. This gap is widening and reflects the
development gap. There is a huge imbalance between the users of water around the world, with rich countries using up
to 10 times more water per capita.
Climate change will affect many developing nations which lack the resilience and technology to adapt to the
drying conditions of their water sources, e.g. sources such as glaciers in the Andes, Kenya highlands and the
Himalayas which are all unfortunately disappearing which is particularly bad with their growing populations
In coastal areas, over-abstraction and rising sea levels are resulting in salt water inundation and contamination of
their clean water supplies, e.g. Tuvalu, South Pacific Islands
Costs of safe water supply in the developing megacities of the world are rising. Already slum dwelling users pay
up to six times as much as the UK residents as they rely on deliveries of bottled water from vendors
Widespread pollution of supplies, especially in the developing countries, 1.5 billion people live without access to
safe water, and 2.3 billion people lack the adequate sanitation
Developing areas are experiencing extremely rapid population growth, many 2-3% + a year and therefore there
is a rising demand to a thinning supply
2.1 The geography of water supply
Generally, global water supply (the distribution and abundance of those sources) are linked to three main physical
1. Climate ­ this determines the overall global distribution of water because of the patterns linked to annual and
seasonal rainfall distribution, snowfall. Climate also highlights whether countries suffer from droughts,
examining the extent of water strain and how arid a region is. The weather patterns across areas are usually due
to the latitudinal extent of that country, whether it is coastal or inland, behind or in-front of mountains, etc.
2. Rivers ­ rivers are extremely fundamental in the accessibility of people to a continuous water supply. It is by
rivers that surface water is transported across continents and across large parts of different countries. It is
important to note that rivers are a key source of freshwater and thus occasionally are the subject of heated
debates between countries particularly where there is water scarcity (e.g. Middle East)
3. Geology ­ the geology of a location is also vitally important as to where water is supplied, maintained and
potentially percolated. The geology of a location controls the distribution of aquifers, which supply the
underground water because of the type of rock: porous, impermeable, etc.
Blue flow water ­ the collective name of rivers and aquifers as the visible part of the hydrological system
The accessibility of the world's water supply is actually very limited. Merely 1% of the Earth's total water resources are
easily accessible as surface water.

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Water stress, scarcity and vulnerability
Globally, more and more people are coming into an increasing risk of having too little water for their survival as the uses
of water have become more unsustainable in more recent times.…read more

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Water abstraction, water extraction, or groundwater abstraction is the process of taking water from any source,
either temporarily or permanently. Most water is used for irrigation or treatment to produce drinking water.
The actions of humans have the potential to pollute both surface water and the groundwater supplies because of their
unsustainable practises in many parts of the world:
Sewage disposal in developing countries causes water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and hepatitis.…read more

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The lubricant to development" is often a term used to describe water's role. Secure water supplies are indefinitely an
essential, and arguably fundamentally essential to economic development.
Water supplies are essential to support irrigation, often 70% of total use in many regions, so that food
production can be increased with the ever-increasing demand of a growing population.…read more

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E.g. Mekong River Committee, established between Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam dealt
with HEP, flood control, infrastructure, technical cooperation, etc.
Will conflicts become more dominant in the twenty-first century as water insecurity increases? This is a widely debatable
question. The likely sites of conflict are where countries are habitually in conflict and the scarcity of water in said
countries is particularly high: Israel, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.…read more

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Supplies are underground so it is difficult to understand the problem as it takes years for an effect to show ­ no
actual understanding of the actual amount or level available to the countries: is it being replenished,
It is difficult to negotiate an equitable and reasonable share for each nation to exploit, as often the extent is
not mapped and nobody knows who owns what ­ some countries may feel they're not getting all that they own
or what they are owed, how…read more

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Existing Schemes Details
Tagus-Murcia Takes water from the Tagus River by canal to the drought stricken area of
transfer in Spain Almeria-Murcia-Alicante to provide water for 700,000 new villas and the tourist industry and
irrigating the cash cropping areas
Snowy Mountains Water is transferred from the storage lake of Eucumbene westwards by the Snowy-Geehi
scheme in tunnel to the head waters of the Murray to irrigate farms and provide water to an increasingly
southeast drought stricken area.…read more

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Business as Water scarcity will reduce food production Developing countries will become
usual Consumption of water will rise by over 50% reliant on food imports and
Household water use will increase by 70% experience increasing hunger and
(mostly in developing countries) malnutrition
Industrial water demand will increase in Sub-Saharan Africa ­ grain imports
developing countries will more than triple
Western USA, China, India, Egypt
and North Africa ­ users will pump
water faster than aquifers can
Water crisis Global water consumption would increase Food…read more

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Political International Organisations (e.g. UN) responsible for Millennium Development Goals; government
departments (e.g.…read more

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Water Conservation
Developing sustainable strategies to conserve water supplies is vital in the attempt to combat climate change.
In agriculture the maxim is "more crop per drop". Sprinkler and surface food irrigation is steadily being replaced
by modern spray technology and more advanced drip irrigation, which essentially uses less water and thus is
more efficient for a similar yield and less water useage
Grey water ­ conservation of industrial water by reuse. Using filters and chemicals can frequently recycle
wastewater.…read more



Such a brilliant resource, really detailed notes thank you!


This resource is fab but I was wandering, is it suitable for the general exam (not just pre-release) as this year water conflict is just an exam Q:)

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