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1 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Washington, DC February 24-27, 2008 Water for Life: A Source of Conflict Albert M. Wright Senior Advisor, Global Water.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Washington, DC February 24-27, 2008 Water for Life: A Source of Conflict Albert M. Wright Senior Advisor, Global Water."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Washington, DC February 24-27, 2008 Water for Life: A Source of Conflict Albert M. Wright Senior Advisor, Global Water Partnership and Dennis B. Warner Sr. Technical Advisor, Water and Sanitation Catholic Relief Services

2 Drought-Affected Reservoir, Kenya

3 Household water supply, Niger Household water supply Niger

4 Salt Build Up in Abandoned Irrigation Field, Pakistan Salt Build Up in Abandoned Irrigation Field Pakistan

5 Protected spring DRC Congo

6 6 Role of Water Water as a vital substance for sustaining life Water is a basic and indispensable necessity for health, socio- economic well being and the very existence of life on our planet It also often represents the spiritual link between us and our Creator Water as a source of conflict Conflicts arise when two or more parties disagree over the use of a body of water Such conflicts may arise between families, ethnic groups or countries In this presentation, we will address both roles of water – (1) in sustaining life and (2) in causing conflicts

7 7 Part I: Water as the Foundation of Life Water, an essential element for life - a natural resource vital for the survival of humanity and all species on earth - a common good of the entire human family - its benefits are meant for all and not only for those who live in countries where water is abundant -water is intrinsically linked to fundamental human rights Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2006

8 8 Rights and Responsibilities Rights-based principles All people have rights to water For life and health For livelihoods For protection of their environment For support in times of emergencies All people have responsibilities regarding water To share water equitably with others To conserve water as a natural resource To protect against the degradation of water resources To provide water services in times of emergencies

9 9 A World Without Water Water has physical, physiological, economic, cultural and spiritual uses. Without water: Normal daily activities (bathing, cooking, personal hygiene) could not occur Religious rituals based on water would not be possible Our bodies could not function Plants and animals would not grow and reproduce The atmosphere would become toxic without the generation of O 2 Commerce and industry would come to a halt Civilization would end Life on Earth (humans, animals, plants, insects, microorganisms) would cease to exist

10 10 Water Availability and Distribution Population and poverty Global6.5 billion Developing countries5.0 billion Living in poverty: (less than $2 per day)3.0 billion Global water availability Salt water97.5% Freshwater 2.5% (mostly in glaciers and deep underground) Available freshwater 0.01% (approx 6,000 m 3 /person/yr) Freshwater distribution Highly variable between and within countries Absolute water scarcity (less than 1000 m 3 /person/yr for all uses) affects over 500 million people in more than 30 countries

11 11 Water Supply and Sanitation Needs Minimum acceptable standards to maintain health in poor countries : Domestic water supply - 5 gallons/person/day (20 liters/per/day) Domestic sanitation - sanitary disposal of human wastes near the home that does not contaminate water supplies, food, animals or people (example: pit latrine) Poverty and the lack of water and sanitation Globally, over 1.1 billion people lack access an improved drinking water supply and 2.6 billion do not have a sanitary system for disposing of their bodily wastes The lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is mainly a matter of poverty, typically affecting people in rural areas, urban slums and squatter settlements

12 12 Populations Served by Water and Sanitation Systems (2004) USA Water supply100% (over 99% with multiple taps inside the home) Sanitation100% (over 99% with flush toilets inside the home) Global Water supply83% (54% with a tap inside the home) Sanitation59% Developing Countries (over two-thirds of the world population) Water supply80% (44% with a tap inside the home) Sanitation50% Sub-Saharan Africa (poorest region, - 740,000 million people in 42 countries) Water supply56% (16% with a tap inside the home) Sanitation37% Consider populations not served in Sub-Saharan Africa For water supply, improved access is lacking for –58% in rural areas –20% in urban areas For sanitation, a proper means of disposal is lacking for – 72% in rural areas – 47% in urban areas

13 13 Water and Health According to many sources (United Nations, World Bank, WHO) 88% of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene Nearly 50% of people in developing countries currently suffer from a water and sanitation-related disease (dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, intestinal worms, etc) At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from a water-related disease Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease 1.8 million children die each year from diarrhea (almost 5,000 each day) High levels of illness and death are closely linked to poverty and to poor water and sanitation

14 14 Water and Livelihoods Lack of access to safe water supply and basic sanitation has social and economic costs Women and girls in developing countries are the main carriers of water Many spend most of their day bringing water to the home, and it may not be safe to drink Girls who carry water often do not have the time to attend school Some parents refuse to send their young girls to school if it lacks basic sanitation facilities Time spent carrying water is not available for other household tasks, such as tending gardens, caring for children or market crafts This situation is a major cause of poverty, gender inequality, and poor education of girls in developing countries

15 15 Water and Environment Worldwide, 2.6 billion people lack sustainable access to basic sanitation Lack of basic sanitation is a major cause of pollution to both surface waters (rivers and lakes) and underground waters Pollution of water supply sources increases the cost of water treatment, forcing municipalities to invest in alternative water sources and in more costly water treatment Polluted water sources affect not only communities, but also agricultural practices, wildlife and overall biodiversity Inadequate protection of water resources often leads to increasing degradation of other environmental elements (deforestation, soil erosion, loss of plant and animal species) and further contributes to overall poverty

16 16 Water and the Spirit Christianity has always used water as a symbolic link between God and Mankind Water as the cleansing medium in baptism Its effect upon the Israelites: Moses parting the Red Sea The offer of “living water” by Christ to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob Christ washing the feet His disciples at the Last Supper The mixing of water and wine in the Eucharist Our stewardship of water and other creations of God In naming children in some cultures, e.g. in Ghana Water is associated with birth, rebirth, renewal and responsibility

17 17 Part II: Problems Leading to Water Conflicts Conflicts around the world are being fueled or exacerbated by water shortages Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, in an address to the UN General Assembly, 6 Feb 2008

18 18 Conflicts in Water Supply and Sanitation Access to drinking water supply and sanitation services is often blocked by poor management of water sources lack of planning unequal distribution of drinking water and sanitation services between rich and poor privatization of government water utilities increases in water rates and fees

19 19 Conflicts in Water Resources Water as a tool of conflict (traditional role) Component of military action – water access used by naval warships Consequence of military action – floods or droughts indirectly caused by military activities Target of military action – water infrastructure deliberately destroyed Water as a source of conflict (emerging role) Water shortages for municipal, industrial, or agricultural needs Threat of future water shortages Allocation of water resources among two or more parties

20 20 Types of Water Resources Conflicts International/transboundary conflicts There are over 260 transboundary water basins, both surface watersheds and underground aquifers, that cross international borders Disputes arise over the control, access and use of water that moves across international borders The past half century has witnessed more than 500 conflict-related events over water, seven of which have involved violence Resolution requires international agreements Examples Nile River –10 countries have agreed to share the water resources through the Nile Basin Initiative Lake Titicaca – Bolivia and Peru created an autonomous water authority to manage the water resources of the basin Euphrates River – Turkey controls the basin headwaters which supply most of the water flowing to Iraq. No current agreement. Palestine – Israel controls the major aquifer underlying the West Bank. No current agreement.

21 21 Types of Water Resources Conflicts (cont.) National conflicts Within countries, conflicts often occur in connection with allocation between different uses, e.g. between environmental and economic uses; between power generation and abstraction for water supply; between irrigation and waste disposal or between agriculture and water transport Conflicts can be peaceful or violent depending on methods of resolution Examples Darfur, Sudan – Violent conflict (genocide) between farmers and herders regarding control of pasturelands has not been resolved. International intervention currently taking place. Ghana – A political contest between power and water utilities over location of water intake works above or below the Volta Dam. USA – Legal dispute between the States of Georgia, Alabama and Florida over allocation of the waters of the Lake Lanier Reservoir near Atlanta has been resolved in federal court.

22 22 Triggers of Water Conflicts Needs of economic development – Expanding industrial and agricultural activities may require more water than is readily available either as a natural resource or as a commercial product that can be purchased Growing water scarcity – The quantity and quality of available water can decline over time as a result of overexploitation of natural water resources, environmental degradation of water sources, or declining flows of water into the area Ownership issues – Legal rights to the ownership and use of surface and underground waters may allow some parties to control access to water Upstream-downstream needs – Withdrawal and use of water along the upper reaches of a river may have negative effects on the downstream users

23 23 Triggers of Water Conflicts (cont.) Climate change – Global warming may result in a series of changes in rainfall patterns, seasonal temperatures, river flows, groundwater levels and, consequently, availability of water resources Injustice – Parties in control of water may refuse to share with the needy access to and the use of water resources for essential human needs Water source security – A country may want to control water resources that originate in another country Territorial expansion – A country may want to expand its national boundaries to include well-watered lands in another country Fear – One party may act to take control of a common water resource before another party does

24 24 Part III: Attempts to Mitigate Water Conflicts Water is the source of health and well-being and requires responsible action from us human beings… It is therefore right to speak out and to act when the life-giving water is pervasively and systematically under threat. Statement on Water for Life, World Council of Churches, Feb. 2006

25 25 Need for Cooperative Action The role and centrality of water in international affairs will continue to increase in the coming years As the growing demand for water resources meets the fixed limit of available water, competition between individuals, organizations and countries will increase and, if not mediated, may result in violence Given water's importance for practically every aspect of life - health, environment, economy, welfare, politics and culture - it is well beyond the scope of any individual country to resolve many of the issues unilaterally There are more than 3,800 unilateral, bilateral or multilateral declarations or conventions on water: 286 are treaties, with 61 referring to over 200 international river basins

26 26 International Development Organizations International institutions (United Nations, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, UNEP, Habitat, World Bank) Bilateral agencies (USAID, DFID, CIDA, GTZ, NORAD, JICA) Non governmental organizations (CRS, Caritas, CARE, Oxfam, World Vision, ADRA) Institutes (IUCN, WWF, Sierra Club, Conservation International, Water Advocates) Foundations (Gates, Hilton, HG Buffet) Private sector multinationals (Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical) Other (church missions, family foundations, individuals)

27 27 International Water Initiatives Most international efforts to reduce water conflicts have been based on meeting basic water needs and reducing inequalities : International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade; launched at the UN General Assembly –Goal: 100% coverage in water and sanitation by : Millennium Development Goals; ratified by 189 nations at the Millennium Summit to help the poorest countries end poverty by 2015 –Goal No. 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability, with Target 10: –Reduce by half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, using 1990 as the base year : International Water for Life Decade; declared by UN General Assembly –Goals: achieve water and sanitation targets in the MDGs, improve water efficiency in agriculture, free women and girls from the burden of carrying water, and involve women in decision-making on water management 2008: International Year of Sanitation; declared by UN General Assembly –Goal: raise awareness and promote action on sanitation

28 28 Water as a Human Right 1948: Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes water as integral component of rights to life, standard of living, health, housing and food 1949: Geneva Convention (protocol 1, article 54) prohibits destroying in wartime drinking water installations, supplies and irrigation works 2002: UN Economic and Social Council stated that the human right to water is fundamental for life and health and is indispensable for the realization of other human rights. Everyone is entitled to safe and sufficient drinking water and governments are obligated to respect, protect and act to realize the right to water 2007: Ecumenical Water Working Group called on President Bush and the Congress to recognize and implement the human right to water so that everyone will have accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses 2007: United Nations Human Development Report called on all governments to recognize the human right to water, prioritize and fund water and sanitation in national budgets, provide international assistance for water projects and develop a strong global plan of action 2007: U.S. House of Representatives began consideration of a proposed sense of Congress resolution on global freshwater resources that also recognized the human right to water

29 29 Part IV: The Christian Response A central question is why should we be more involved in this and other issues relating to Social and Environmental Justice. Water is an essential element not only for growing crops and raising animals, but also for people’s very survival… Competitive claims on water resources by irrigation, industry, and urban domestic users often favor the more powerful, leaving the less powerful thirsty. Inaction on our part will have profound consequences for life in all its forms and especially for the vulnerable.… Water for Life, Franciscan (OFM) JPIC, Rome

30 30 Guiding Principles for CRS Activities Dignity and Equality of the Human Person All of humanity has been created in the image of God and possesses a basic dignity and equality that comes directly from our creation and not from any action on our own part. Rights and Responsibilities Every person has basic rights and responsibilities that flow from our human dignity and that belong to us as human beings regardless of any social or political structures. Social Nature of Humanity All of us are social by nature and are called to live in community with others—our full human potential isn’t realized in solitude, but in community with others. The Common Good In order for all of us to have an opportunity to grow and develop fully, a certain social fabric must exist within society.

31 31 Guiding Principles for CRS Activities (cont.) Subsidiarity A higher level of government—or organization—should not perform any function or duty that can be handled more effectively at a lower level by people who are closer to the problem and have a better understanding of the issue. Solidarity We are all part of one human family—whatever our national, racial, religious, economic, or ideological differences—and in an increasingly interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions. Option for the Poor In every economic, political, and social decision, a weighted concern must be given to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. Stewardship There is inherent integrity to all of creation, and it requires careful stewardship of all our resources, ensuring that we use and distribute them justly and equitably— as well as planning for future generations.

32 Possible Solutions From the perspective of the water professional: There should be a paradigm shift from sharing water resources to sharing the benefits of water resources management and use We should promote greater emphasis on water as a human right and water as a vehicle to end poverty We should promote education of all stakeholders (politicians, development workers, direct beneficiaries), as well as the general public, on the paradigm shift We should explore the peace-building potential of shared water We should promote Peace Engineering more actively We should promote solidarity among stakeholders We should promote IWRM (Integrated Water Resources Management) as the overall approach to sharing and protecting water resources for the benefit of all

33 Possible Solutions (cont.) From the perspective of the Social Ministry leader: Conserve – Give personal example of using water wisely at home and at work Study – Inquire and learn about water needs and problems in the world Support – Assist local and national movements that work to address water-related poverty and human rights violations Lead – Provide ideas, inspiration and leadership to your own Social Ministry group on water-related activities Advocate – Speak out to public officials and encourage them to (1) establish and implement sound national and international water policies and (2) provide greater support to water and sanitation development for the poorest of the poor Participate – Become directly involved with the poor in another country by traveling to and working with them on their water problems Recruit – Encourage young people to consider professional careers working with the poor in developing countries

34 Shallow Well, Niger Shallow drinking water well Niger


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