World Water Crisis Threatens Peace, UN Report

On March 22, 2024, as the world celebrates World Water Day, the United Nations (UN) releases a warning, global water crisis is fueling conflicts but also posing a threat to stability and peace worldwide. The UN World Water Development Report 2024 shows the situation revealing that a 2.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, while 3.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation.

World Water Crisis Threatens Peace, UN Report

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The UN water crisis report addresses the link between water access and peace, showing how water shortages intensify geopolitical tensions and existing conflicts.

In regions like western and central Africa, the shrinking of Lake Chad by 90% over six decades has economic and security challenges for countries reliant on its waters.

The Lake Chad Basin Commission’s efforts to manage water resources serve as an example of regional cooperation to prevent disputes and promote stability.

Girls and women emerge as the primary victims of water scarcity particularly in rural areas where they bear the burden of collecting water for their households.

Spending hours fetching water deprives them of education and economic opportunities but also exposes them to safety risks, including gender-based violence. Inadequate access to clean water undermines health and perpetuates a cycle of poverty.

The UN water crisis report underlines the interplay between water scarcity and climate change, noting that rising temperatures will exacerbate droughts and floods.

As the world faces a more erratic climate, the consequences of water stress goes beyond regional conflicts, driving migration and placing additional pressure on host communities. The lack of clean water disrupts services like healthcare and sanitation.

Multilateral agreements such as the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin, addresses the potential for regional cooperation to manage water resources.

Challenges persist, including the need for investments in water infrastructure and sanitation systems especially in rural and low-income areas.

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Innovative approaches such as Israel’s circular water economy, offer insights into sustainable water management practices.

Through desalination, wastewater treatment, and efficient irrigation methods, Israel has effectively addressed water scarcity challenges serving as a model for other nations.

Collaboration between governments, NGOs, and the private sector is essential to scaling up these initiatives and ensuring equitable access to clean water for all.

In regions like western and central Africa, the shrinking of vital water bodies like Lake Chad by 90% over six decades has triggered economic challenges, tensions among surrounding nations.

The UN water crisis report highlights successful examples of multilateral cooperation, such as the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin, which has fostered stability and served as a blueprint for other regions struggling with water-related disputes.

It has global implications with climate change exacerbating water stress and scarcity. The report warns that as the climate crisis intensifies, so too will the water crisis, with more frequent and severe droughts and floods becoming the norm.

This in turn drives migration, strains resources, and heightens the risk of conflict, as evidenced by a 200% increase in gender-based violence among displaced populations in Somalia.

The UN water crisis report stresses the need for collective action and investment to address the crisis. It estimates that $114 billion annually is required to provide safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in 140 low to middle-income countries.

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