GE03 Water Conflicts Case Studies

Case Studies for GE03 Water Conflicts

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- Rapid population growth + continued poverty + soil erosion = Africa's debt crisis

- Added with droughts, caused income levels to fall; this increased pressure on water supplies from rivers

- From 1980's, major irrigation schemes introduced to grow cash crops to boost exports

- African rivers had traditionally been dammed as part of large-scale (top down) development projects. This boosted several economies, and other countries began to develop. Tensions began to grow

- However, with continued inadequacy of wealth and the necessary technology, plus the natural physical scarcity of Sub-Saharan Africa; several countries face water insecurity by  2025. This threatens their economies and the millions employed in agriculture.

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Aral Sea

- Declined to 10% of its original size, due to diversion of rivers to provide irrigated water for the cotton industry

- Continued salination is also an ecological and environmental disaster

- Cancers, lung disease and infant mortality are 30 times higher than they used to be because the drinking water is heavily polluted with salt, cotton fertilisers and pesticides

- In an ongoing effort in Kazakhstan to save and replenish the North Aral Sea, a dam project was completed in 2005; in 2008, the water level in this lake had risen by 24 m (79 ft) from its lowest level in 2007

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Israel & Lebanon & Palestine

- Already hostile and tense relationship, with shifting territorial borders

- Major disparity in the usage & access of water, issues of mismanagement

- 2002, Lebanon began to construct water pipelines across its border to divert water; which produced an angry response from Israel

- 2006, Israeli troops began to construct water pipelines across a strategic river; which caused armed disputes

- Israel's dividing wall between the West Bank & its territory has caused several issues; such as separating Palestinian villages from their farms & water supply, destroying many wells, and securing the western mountain aquifers for Israel. No equality?

- Israel has a lot of fears, and views the Palestinian lack of technological development (why) as a major hindarance & a threat to their water supplies

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Turkey & Syria & Iraq

- Turkey has a desire to become the Middle East's "breadbasket", by stimulating its economy through the GAP project. 

- This will divert much water via a series of irrigation dams

- This has worried Syria and Iraq, with the project proving to be regionally very unpopular

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Hydropolitics & Geopolitics in the Nile Basin

- Past tensions have occurred due to the traditional dominance of Egypt, civil wars in Sudan and Ethiopia. 85% of the water originates from Ethiopia & Eritrea, but 94% is used by Sudan and Egypt. 360 million people depend on the Nile

- Tension has grown due to upstream nations increasingly challenging Egypt's dominance; with Ethiopia wanting to use the Nile River for HEP plants and industrial development

- In the 1990's, the Nile Basin Initiative was created; a form of cooperative management. All countries, except Eritrea, are working with the World Bank & Bi-lateral aid donors 

- There is also community level development

- This initiative was boosted, by the 1996 Helsinki Rules on the Uses of Water of International Rivers. This regulated how trans-boundary rivers and groundwater supplies are managed

- Thus, the Nile Basin is an example that "Water Wars" may be averted

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China's South-North Water Transfer

- One of the largest water transfers globally. The aim is to divert 45bn m3/year from the water surplus river basins of the south and east, to the water deficit areas of the industrialised and heavily populated north; especially in Beijing and Tianjin

- There are externalities along the way; such as industrial growth along routeways exacerbating existing pollution problems, changes in water balances causing pollution, and the problem of displaced communities

- It is due to finish in 2050, with the main player being the government sponsored company behind this project. It involves huge civil engineering projects, and thus many argue for its socioeconomic benefits

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