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Water Conflict

water warsjpgWater is one of our most critical resources, but around the world it isunder threat. Worldwater.org is dedicated to providing informationand resources to help protect and preserve fresh water around the globe.

In an ongoing eff ort to understand the connections between water resources, water systems, and international security and confl ict, the Pacifi c Institute initiated a project in the late 1980s to track and categorize events related to water and confl ict, which has been continuously updated since November 2009.

Changes to Chronology Reflect New Data

Recent world events from the Middle East to China to India to Ethiopia and other regions have, unfortunately, continued to lead to new entries. And new information is being sent in all the time by historians, water experts, and readers to update, correct, and expand the current chronology. As a result, we will continue to update theChronology with new entries and a range of corrections and modifi cations. In addition, we have made changes in how several of these entries are categorized. Th e heading “Basis of Confl ict” now off ers a more clear set of categories than in previous listings. Th e current categories, or types of confl ict, now include:

• Control of Water Resources (state and non-state actors): where water supplies or access to water is at the root of tensions.
• Military Tool (state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation or state as a weapon during a military action.
• Political Tool (state and non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems themselves, are used by a nation, state, or non-state actor for a political goal.
• Terrorism (non-state actors): where water resources, or water systems, are either targets or tools of violence or coercion by non-state actors.
• Military Target (state actors): where water resource systems are targets of military actions by nations or states.
• Development Disputes (state and non-state actors): where water resources or water systems are a major source of contention and dispute in the context of economic and social development.

gunsIt will be clear to even the casual reader that these defi nitions are imprecise and that single events can fall into more than one category, depending on perception and defi nitions. For example, intentional military attacks on water-supply systems can fall into both the Targets and Tools categories, depending on one’s point of view. Disputes over control of water resources may refl ect either political power disputes or disagreements over approaches to economic development, or both.

We believe this is inevitable and even desirable – international security is not a clean, precise fi eld of study and analysis. It is evolving as international and regional politics evolves and as new factors become increasingly, or decreasingly, important in the aff airs of humanity. In all this, however, one factor remains constant: the importance of water to life means that providing for water needs and demands will never be free of politics. As social and political systems change and evolve, this chronology and the kinds of entries and categories will change and evolve.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene March-April 2017 Vol.12 No.2