Large dams are major nation-building projects. They harness power to generate energy, provide water for large-scale irrigation and can help control flooding. And politicians often describe them as symbols of national power and technical prowess.
A paper published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tests the hypothesis that climate related natural disasters may be part of the cause of conflict in countries with high ethnic fractionalization.
With the failure of July 14-15 talks held between India and Pakistan to settle concerns raised by the latter over the former’s dam projects (Kishenganga and Ratle) over the Western rivers (Jhelum’s tributary and Chenab respectively) of the Indus Basin (allocated to the latter under the Indus Waters Treaty), Pakistan has now decided to take the matter to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA), based in the Hague. While the political and legal battles over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) continue to create headlines in the region, and across the world, there is another time bomb ticking beneath the surface.
Earlier this month, armed clashes between competing factions of South Sudan’s government broke out in the capital Juba, a day after the nation’s fifth anniversary of its independence. The conflict dates back to political events and factional fighting that first emerged in 2013.
The eye catching headlines are familiar. “Water Wars” are imminent or already underway in the latest drought or dam-building hotspot. Such “wars” often extend to farmers battling over irrigation diversions, but at times countries are the players. Senior leaders are often quoted suggesting transboundary water theft constitutes a casus belli. Security officials are obliged to investigate.
While natural resource development can generate economic success, it can also increase the likelihood of conflict, particularly in Africa. Ongoing violence in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta is a good example of the so-called “resource curse” in action. In response, African governments continue to grapple with how best to use their resource endowments to foster both economic opportunity and peace. At a time of much soul-searching for the United Nations, there is a unique opportunity to put responsible and effective resource development at the heart of African peacebuilding. But how might local communities take greater ownership of these processes?
The China-funded dam highlights lack of green safeguards along the New Silk Road, writes Eugene Simonov.
Wrapped in a purple boubou (robe), Salou Moussa Maïga, 60, sits with his hands clasped between his knees and explains how climate change has fuelled violent conflict in Ansongo, Mali. As the president of a farming cooperative, he knows the cost of drought all too well. ‘The rain period has decreased considerably from years ago … we don’t have grass anymore,’ he told ISS Today. ‘Everything is naked.’