Today there are an estimated 25 million “water refugees” in the world. They are fleeing from droughts and floods, mostly caused or worsened by human intervention. The growing inequality in the distribution of water also leads to internal tensions and international conflicts.
Worldwide there are 263 river basins shared by several countries. 60% of the world population lives in river basins that flow through different countries. Today this already contributes to tensions between Israel and Palestine, between Iraq and Syria, between India and Pakistan....
Rivers that flow through several countries, such as the Mekong, Ganges, Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates, Nile ... but also the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt tend to become a source of economic conflicts, and in less stable regions possibly armed conflicts. Thus the water shortage of the common Jordan is now a source of conflict, then a means of blackmail between Israel and its neighbouring countries. No wonder if you know that Jordan has as good as exhausted its groundwater supplies, and that 90% of the water pumped up in the western bank of Jordan is used by Israel.
the Cucap-indians in the North of Mexico are threatened with extinction because their rivers are pumped dry by Arizona's cotton fields and the swimming-pools of Los Angeles.
in the Sahel stock breeders, nomads and farmers are fighting for the control over water wells.
in Turkey, Philippines and in China the massive dam projects chase away entire population groups.
Conflict management, development and environmental protection go together. A thorough change in mentality, founded on ethical grounds, urges itself upon us to create the right conditions for a sustainable and solidarity policy.
Therefore the water problems in the South are our problems too. They cannot be solved without us revising the economic and power relationships between North and South. In addition, the water problems in the South are not only an injustice, they also constitute a threat to our world.
Finally one realises more and more that the conflict of interests between water users provokes rapidly mounting tensions not only in the South but also in the North: between environment and agriculture, between current and future generations, and between downstream and upstream users. Wherever in the South one experiments with new forms of water management, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes proceeding from one’s own cultural or social set of values, the North too can draw lessons from it in order to learn to treat this vital resource differently. So PROTOS and its partners want to build these bridges. For more information you can read: "Water and conflicts" (1.5 MB)(only available in Dutch).