Water wars? Devastating shortages will fuel MidEast conflicts for 25 yrs
In a worrying global trend, the Middle East is set for a record water shortage to strike over the next 25 years. The global fallout from the recent record heatwaves will force more and more people into overcrowded cities and stagnate economic growth.
Worse still, according to scientists with the World Resource Institute (WRI), water shortages will exacerbate existing conflicts – and the factor is considered to have contributed to the rising violence in Syria that erupted in 2011.
“Drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilization,” a new WRI report says.
The institute estimates that, of 33 countries predicted to face “extremely high water stress” by the year 2040, 14 will be in the Middle East and North Africa.
The process will take place gradually, owing not only to a period of drought we’ve been facing, but also by overcrowding, as the global demand for water grows.
As many in the world grow poorer, a middle class is also emerging – and its own demands for increased use of water will also put pressure on resources, as its demands for electricity and water-intensive food production far outstrip those of the poor, the researchers say.
The situation is not uniform, where drought is concerned: some areas become drier, and others wetter. And as some are set to die of thirst, others may suffer deadly floods, which will also destroy livelihoods and displace hundreds of millions of people.