What if people refuse others the access to safe drinking water ?

Photo Credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Flickr/ EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

Thousands die in Yemen in fights over water

by Rehab Abd Almohsen

“The conflict in Yemen is exacerbating water scarcity by reducing access to safe drinking water. If urgent action is not taken, the country will fall into further humanitarian crisis.” by Fawzi Karajeh, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa

Speed read

  • Up to 4,000 people die each year in fights over scarce water resources
  • The civil war means around 20 million people are without clean drinking water
  • Solar power could pumps working during power cuts, but this adds to depletion problems

Clashes over water are killing up to 4,000 people a year in Yemen, its government says.

These conflicts, which predate the country’s civil war, include raids on wells and other fights over water access involving armed groups, according to Yemen’s interior ministry.

This compares with more than 2,500 deaths so far in the civil war that began in March and involves an alliance led by Saudi Arabia fighting supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former president who was ousted in 2012.

According to a regional representative of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the civil war has left around 20 million Yemenis without access to drinking water.

“With the current conflict, the number of people that don’t have access to clean water is believed to be more than 80 per cent of the population,” says Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, who represents the FAO’s Near East and North Africa region.

Yemen has the highest water scarcity in the world, he says, with more than half the population lacking a regular supply of drinking water even before the fighting began.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Desertification, drought, wars, disputes, waste and climate change in the Middle East

Photo credit: al-Araby

The Arab world contains one third of the world’s deserts [Getty]

Threats greater than terror: Desertification and drought

by Mohammad Ali Musawi

Blog: The Middle East is facing a potentially catastrophic threat – st.

The United Nations inaugurated the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on 17 June 1995 to highlight ways to prevent desertification and recover from drought.

According to UN estimates, 52 percent of the world’s agricultural land is moderately or severely affected by soil degradation, and affects 1.5 billion people globally.

Further, drought and desertification are causing the annual loss of 120,000 square kilometres of land around the world, an area larger than the size of the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain combined.

This has a severe impact on food security, biodiversity, socio-economic stability and development.

The UN estimates some 50 million people will be displaced over the next decade due to the effects of drought and desertification.

The Arab world

The Arab world contains around one third of the world’s deserts. Most Arab countries have insufficient water resources, and this makes the region especially vulnerable to desertification and drought.

According to a 2011 report published in the Middle East Journal of Scientific Research, an estimated 68.4 percent of the total area of the Arab world is arid.

However, even with these risk factors, mismanagement of water resources and unsustainable land practices are rife across the region. For example, in Saudi Arabia, a predominantly arid country with no rivers, the daily per capita water use is double the European average.

Furthermore, Iraq, which was considered as a regional breadbasket in the 1970s, has lost a significant amount of its farmland to various wars and neglect.

The effects of drought and desertification across the region are not only environmental, but also come at an extreme human cost.

Read the full article: al-Araby

Lake Chad shrinking

Photo credit: Vice News

Boko Haram isn’t the only threat facing in the region. Desertification has reduced the surface area of Lake Chad from approximately 25,000 square kilometers (9,600 square miles) to nearly 1,350 square kilometers (520 square miles).

In Photos: On the Banks of Despair With Lake Chad’s Boko Haram Refugees

The banks of Lake Chad are strewn with garbage. Pollution is one cause of the environmental crisis currently facing Africa's fourth-largest water basin. - https://news-images.vice.com/images/2015/05/15/in-photos-chad-body-image-1431716697.jpg
The banks of Lake Chad are strewn with garbage. Pollution is one cause of the environmental crisis currently facing Africa’s fourth-largest water basin. – https://news-images.vice.com/images/2015/05/15/in-photos-chad-body-image-1431716697.jpg

By Tomaso Clavarino

Hunted by a coalition of armies after brutally killing thousands of people in 2014, members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram are now hiding on hundreds of small, inaccessible islands scattered across Lake Chad, a large and shallow body of water bordered by Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Nigeria.

The lake, which provides water to more than 68 million people, is already losing vegetation and wildlife due to desertification. Now, in Chad, one of the poorest areas in the region, Boko Haram has started attacking neighboring villages, burning down houses, and jeopardizing communities already devastated by hunger, malnutrition, and a trade embargo with Nigeria.

Read the full article: Vice News

Food shortages in South Sudan

Photo credit: UN News Centre

A child sips on therapeutic milk at a hospital in Juba, South Sudan, where nearly one million children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Photo: UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt

South Sudan: UN agency warns of catastrophic food shortages if conflict continues

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is sharply reducing food supplies and slowing humanitarian access to people in need, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said today, urging warring groups in the country to follow up quickly on the ceasefire deal agreed on Monday.

Without such commitment, the country’s conflict areas face potentially catastrophic food shortages, UNICEF warned, pointing to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) group of experts’ report, which is released this week, and to its own latest nutrition survey, which supports the IPC’s findings.

“UNICEF needs access to remote areas made inaccessible because of the fighting,” the agency’s Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, said. “This is where the crisis is forming. Both parties to the ceasefire need to reach a long-term settlement or face a growing food crisis by the end of the dry and lean season.”

Mr. Veitch said UNICEF and its partners are starting to see large numbers of people on the move in conflict areas because of food shortages. At least 229,000 children are estimated to be suffering from severe acute malnutrition in South Sudan – a number that has doubled since the start of the conflict just over a year ago.

“We remain on edge, and any increase in violence will see supply routes cut, markets disrupted and humanitarian access denied. This would be catastrophic for acutely malnourished children and could quickly lead to high levels of mortality.”

Read the full article: UN News Centre

More effective interventions and more lasting results



Africa: FAO Director-General Calls for Global Action to Address Food Insecurity in Conflict Areas

New York — Food insecurity and political instability are interrelated – Graziano da Silva

Agriculture and food security must be treated as essential components of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said during a special meeting of the UN Peacebuilding Commission held here today.

“Food security is an important foundation for peace, political stability and sustainable development. In the history of humanity, time and time again we have seen vicious circles linking violence and hunger – and these are conflicts that are not restricted by national borders,” Graziano da Silva told meeting participants.

But the FAO Director-General also emphasized that, at the same time, food security can be used as “a conflict prevention and mitigation tool” for the advancement of peace and security. Policies and actions on food security can not only build resilience and resolve conflicts, but can prevent conflicts, too.

“We cannot just wait for an emergency to react. To achieve food security, we need to act before the crisis. We cannot prevent a drought from happening, but we can prevent it from becoming famine,” added Graziano da Silva.

Impact of conflicts and hunger

Hunger kills far more people than war or terrorism, the FAO chief noted during his speech. For example, between 2004 and 2009, an estimated 55,000 people a year lost their lives as a direct result of conflict or terrorism, while in Somalia alone, between 2010 and 2012 over 250,000 died due to famine caused by severe drought, he said.

Read the full article: allAfrica

There is good news and there is bad news

Photo credit: Eng. Taleb BRAHIM

Vegetables and Moringa sapling in family garden 2009-11

Africa Can End Hunger By 2025 With Effective Policies – FAO Official

By Chris Arsenault


A significant group of African states have met the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people compared with 1990, including: Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Malawi, Mauritania, South Africa and Togo.

Others, including Ghana, Cameroon and Mali have done even better, reducing the absolute number of hungry people by 50 percent or more.

These relative improvements, however, mask large challenges.

One in four people across sub-Saharan Africa are still undernourished, the highest proportion of any region on earth. according to the FAO’s 2014 report State of Food Insecurity in the World.

To meet their targets on reducing hunger, African leaders signed the Malabo Declaration last year, setting a series of goals including: targeting 10 percent of public spending on agriculture, doubling farm productivity, growing farm economies by at least 6 percent annually, and tripling inter-African trade in agricultural goods and services.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Homeless and hungry in East Africa


Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia (file photo).

East Africa: Over 11 Million East Africans Homeless and Hungry, Says UN

The number of displaced people in the East African region stood at 11.4 million by end of September, a new situation analysis report shows.

According to the report, released by the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), at least 2.47 million people of the total of displaced population are refugees, while another over 8.97 million are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and others severely affected by conflict.

This represents an increase of 1.4 million people.

Experts say it is a major humanitarian problem for regional governments with the charity office warning that funding for aid response is proving to be a challenge at a time of critical need.

“Out of the $4.44 billion requested for humanitarian response, only $2.54 billion had been received by December 2,” says the report.

The statistics are provided in the context of populations facing serious food insecurity situations.

‘265,000 Rwandans hungry’

The report says at least 12.8 million people in some 10 countries in the region , including Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, are actually facing severe food insecurity.

The report claims that in Rwanda, at least 265,000 citizens and 74,590 refugees are hungry in a country of about 11 million people.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Desertification, one of the root causes of conflict

Photo credit: steinchen

Desertification as a Source of Conflict in Darfur


While Darfur shows the limits of current peacekeeping and humanitarian policy, it is also becoming clear that the roots of conflict are not found in the often-repeated claim of simplistic “ethnic hatreds.” To a considerable extent, the conflict there is the result of a slow-onset disaster—creeping desertification and severe droughts that have led to food insecurity and sporadic famine, as well as growing competition for land and water. The “Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment”—a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)—argues that severe environmental degradation is among the root causes of the conflict. The 354–page study includes the following findings:

  • Deserts have spread southwards by an average of 100 kilometers over the past four decades.
  • Land degradation is linked with overgrazing of fragile soils. The number of livestock has exploded from close to 27 million animals to around 135 million.
  • A “deforestation crisis” has led to a loss of almost 12 percent of Sudan’s forest cover in just 15 years, and some areas may lose their remaining forest cover within the next decade.
  • Declining and highly irregular patterns of rainfall in parts of the country—particularly in Kordofan and Darfur states—provides mounting evidence of long-term regional climate change. In Northern Darfur, precipitation has fallen by a third in the past 80 years.

Read the full article (marked with highlights): Worldwatch Institute

The role of desertification as a root cause of global conflict and instability (Excellent Development)

Read at :


Land degradation causes conflict

Disputes over dwindling access to water, farmland or grazing grounds can easily escalate into serious conflict.

A publication by the UNCCD earlier this year highlighted the role of desertification as a root cause of global conflict and instability. It’s not an issue that often comes to light. By the time conflicts have developed into full-blown wars that make it into the news, the motives have usually shifted to political aims or extremism.

From disputes to war

But the root causes of many of today’s conflicts are likely to lie in poverty, food and water insecurity. An increasing number of people in the world depend on degrading land, most of them are poor.

Climate change, droughts and unsustainable land management are increasing land degradation at an alarming rate. It is estimated that 12 million hectares (greater than the size of Portugal) of productive land becomes barren every year due to desertification and drought – a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain.

Disputes over dwindling access to water, farmland or grazing grounds can easily escalate into serious conflict. In addition, drought and hunger are driving many people to leave their homes in the search for more productive land, again leading to conflict and cross border instability through the sudden influx of refugees.

A flood of refugees

The UN predicts that over the next 30 years a billion or more poor people may have no choice but to flee their homes, as they will simply not be able to feed themselves, unless we start taking action now.

There is no magic bullet to fix the complex problems of land degradation and unsustainable land management. But there are many small-scale solutions that are already working at local level – sand dams are one of them.

Small-scale solutions with big potential

Sand dams help prevent conflict by increasing the availability of water, both in terms of volume and the length of time that it is available throughout the year. They relief the strain on water resources in the wider area and therefore reduce the likelihood of conflict occurring.

– See more at: http://www.excellentdevelopment.com/articles/pioneering-sand-dams/land-degradation-causes-conflict#sthash.5cvqajnd.md3ZAIWA.dpuf

Harsher droughts and rising numbers of conflicts with farmers (IRIN News)

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What does the future hold for pastoralists in the Sahel?

Harsher droughts and rising numbers of conflicts with farmers are threatening the future of pastoralism in the Sahel, but experts say that integrating crop and livestock systems can help sustain the livelihoods of herders and farmers.

Droughts have wrought severe consequences in recent years, including in 2011-2012, when a major drought left some 18 million people in the region at risk of hunger.

Practices such as rotational grazing, land and tree regeneration, intercropping, and agroforestry can help ensure herders continue to feed their animals while avoiding conflict with farmers over shrinking productive lands, experts say.

A look at nomadism

Nomadic pastoralism remains an essential part of life in the Sahel, where more than 60 percent of the population is involved in livestock farming.


“Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships.” (IPS)

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Water Scarcity Could Drive Conflict or Cooperation

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 2 2013 (IPS) – When the General Assembly declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation (IYWC) three years ago, the U.N.’s highest policy-making body was conscious of the perennial conflicts triggered by competition over one of the world’s most critical finite resources.

Current and past water conflicts and marine disputes have included confrontations between Israel and Jordan, India and Pakistan, Egypt and Ethiopia, Palestine and Israel, and Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

Picking up the cue from the United Nations, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is focusing its weeklong meeting this year on the theme “Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships.”

Striking a more optimistic note, SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren told IPS historically, water has been a source of cooperation more often than not. Over the past 50 years, he noted, there has been almost 2,000 interactions on transboundary basins of which only seven have involved violence and 70 percent have been cooperative.

“I think the future situation depends very much on our ability to deal with the water demand challenge,” said Holmgren, a former ambassador and head of the Department for Development Policy at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


The climate, migration, and security nexus is a key test case in N.W. Africa ( Towards Recognition)

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Climate Change, Migration And Conflict In Northwest Africa: Rising Dangers Across The Arc Of Tension

Posted by Kayly Ober

Northwest Africa is crisscrossed with climate, migration, and security challenges. From Nigeria to Niger, Algeria, and Morocco, this region has long been marked by labor migration, bringing workers from sub-Saharan Africa north to the Mediterranean coastline and Europe. To make that land journey, migrants often cross through the Sahel and Sahel-Saharan region, an area facing increasing environmental threats from the effects of climate change. The rising coastal sea level, desertification, drought, and the numerous other potential effects of climate change have the potential to increase the numbers of migrants and make these routes more hazardous in the future. Added to these challenges are ongoing security risks in the region, such as Nigeria’s struggles with homegrown insurgents and the growing reach of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has expanded out of Algeria.

For the United States and the international community, this region is critical because of its potential for future instability. The proximity of Algeria and Morocco to Europe, Nigeria’s emerging role as one of Africa’s most strategically important states, and Niger’s ongoing struggles with governance and poverty all demand attention. Northwest Africa’s porous borders and limited resources, which allow Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to flourish there, suggest that there is no time to waste in developing better and more effective policies for the region.

The climate, migration, and security nexus is a key test case because it is likely to exacerbate all of these existing risk factors. Climate change alone poses a daunting challenge. No matter what steps the global community takes to mitigate carbon emissions, a warmer climate is inevitable. The effects are already being felt today and are projected to intensify as climate change worsens. All of the world’s regions and nations will experience some of the effects of this transformational challenge.

Changing environmental conditions are likely to prompt human migration, adding another layer of complexity. In the 21st century the world could see substantial numbers of climate migrants—people displaced by the slow or sudden onset of climate change. While experts continue to debate the details of the causal relationship between climate change and human migration, climate change is expected to aggravate many existing migratory pressures around the world. Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods are projected to increase the number of sudden humanitarian crises in areas least able to cope, such as those already mired in poverty or prone to conflict.


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