One of the most pressing effects of the climate crisis is instability in water supplies, as a warming planet brings about more erratic rainfall and severe droughts. However, this lack of water security has even led to conflicts around the world, as more than 200 water-related violent conflicts took place in the past three years, according to data from the Pacific Institute.
However, an expert has warned that these water disputes, which usually involve local conflicts, could soon escalate to full-blown civil uprisings and even nuclear war.
Dario Soto Abril, Executive Secretary at the Global Water Partnership (GWP) stressed the importance of considering water security as a matter of national security.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “Obviously, we’re always talking about water security in terms of having enough access for livelihoods, for economic development, and sustainable agriculture and ecosystem, but water security is an essential matter of national security.
“Not having water security creates economic uncertainty because water is connected to agriculture and manufacturing.
“So lack of water would reduce the economic intake of the country of the region.”
He noted that the lack of water could then create instability within a country at an internal, creating internal tensions, and “civil uprisings which will create conflicts within the country”.
He warned that migration could be another impact of water scarcity, as large populations move to Europe or the US.
He said: “If people have no water security in the region, they will most likely come to Europe or the US.
“That is another reason why water security is connected to national security.”
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One example he highlighted of a recent conflict that took place in Ethiopia in 2020, after Egyptian hackers launched a cyber attack on Ethiopian water systems.
On the hackers’ Facebook page, they voiced Egyptian opposition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile.
According to the Pacific Institute, the attack was carried out as the reservoir behind the dam is being filled despite there being a lack of an agreement between Egypt and Ethiopia.
Mr Abril added: “We’ve also seen how the conflict in Syria, in one of the sieges of Damascus, the water was cut where civilians were left without water for weeks.”
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A similar conflict threatened to unfold last month between India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers with a decades-long rivalry.
The two countries share the Indus River, which flows from the Himalayan region in India to Pakistan.
As diplomats from both nations met to discuss renewing a decades-long water treaty, a major Indian news channel called on India to threaten to shut off the river flow to Pakistan.
The anchor said: “The Indus Waters give India immense strategic advantage over Pakistan.
“80 percent of Pak agricultural fields depend on these waters that India controls.
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“India can engineer floods & droughts in Pakistan.
“Why has New Delhi been shy of exercising this power?”
With both countries possessing around 100 nuclear weapons, cutting off the flow of a major river could have disastrous consequences.
Mr Abril continued: “There’s always a potential that countries could weaponise water, there’s always the tension.
“There are elements here for conflict, India-Pakistan, Ethiopia and other countries, China could potentially control the Mekong river basin.”