Water Wars

Topics: Water resources, Water, Human rights Pages: 12 (4440 words) Published: June 3, 2012
Critical Literature Review:
Water Wars

The term War as violent as it is in its connotation, should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, war is a violent way for determining who gets to say what goes on in a given territory (Orend). With this said, conflicts over water have been the source of dispute since humans began cultivating food; hence the word “rivalry” comes from the Latin word rivali, “one using the same river as another” ("The World Watch Institute"). The relation between water and violence has often been overlooked; until influential people like, Ismail Serageldin, Vice-President to the World Bank, in 1995 alleged that “if the wars of this century were fought for oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water” (Shiva). Water Wars are not like typical wars with a battlefield and battalions, however often may are used, it is more looked as a conflict over how we value and use water. Water Wars are known to erupt where there is a water crisis, such a water shortages, mismanagements, or environmental threats. First, a clash must occur over the culture of water (value and use of water), for example one side treasures and esteems water for its preservation of life, while the other sees water as a commodity. This conflict between two or more water cultures in a battle for the power of water resources are known as Water Wars, as best defined through the literature. Human rights have usually been used and related to for the prevention of water violence, in spite of this, as we enter the 21 Century universal access to basic water services has not been met, causing an increase in Water Wars (clash between those who have the power to claim resources and those who do not). There is no surprise why social conflicts regarding human rights to water have increased, especially with the support of advocacy groups and the ability of previously closed societies to organize and express dissent or opposition to water projects or policies that harm their interests, livelihoods, or cultures. These social uprisings are not uncommon in today’s third world countries, where changes in the communities access to water supply have occurred, the question however is: Why has this change in access to water cause people to resort to violence as a source of help in dealing with the poor governance of water in their communities? Understanding the importance of water is relevant to this answer. Water is the essence of life; it may well be the most essential element and source to life. Water is very important for the sustainability of the earth ecosystem and plays a vital role in nearly every function of the human body. For that reason when we search the universe for life we search for water, because it is only from liquid water that all known forms of life exist. Without water human beings cannot live for more than a few days and the lack of it causes serious illness which results in millions of deaths around the world. A child dies every 15 seconds from diarrhea, caused largely by poor sanitation and lack water supply (Knight 7). Poor health constrains development and poverty alleviation (Knight 7). For example, Napoga Gurigo lives in rural Ghana, takes about 3 hours a day to collect the water she needs for her family preventing her from attending school or tending to other necessity for the progress of her family (Knight 6). Water has the power to improve communities by improving family’s income, for instance boosting crop production and the health of livestock (Knight 7). The right to water is more basic and vital than already known rights acknowledged by domestic constitutions and the international community. As Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General avowed that “Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right” (Knight 6) or Nelson Mandela once stated that “freedom alone is not enough without light to...
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