Water wars

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Water wars is a phrase used to describe increased competition for water resources, due to drought, climate change, or increasing populations; controversies over and reduced access due to privatization of water services; or the role of these tensions in leading to physical conflicts, within or among nations.


  • "By 2025, 1800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions"; "Water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2025 in developing countries, and 18 per cent in developed countries"; and "Water use has been growing at more than the rate twice of population increase in the last century." -- UN Water [1]
  • "By 2015 nearly half the world's population -- more than 3 billion people -- will live in countries that are 'water-stressed' -- have less than 1,700 cubic meters of water per capita per year -- mostly in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and northern China," predicted a CIA report from 2000. [2]


  • "The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics" from 1985; and "Water will be more important than oil this century" from 2003. -- Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali. [3]
  • "There are those in Iran who must abandon their homes due to lack of water; they are known commonly as 'water refugees'. In Gaza, less than 15 gallons of water a day are available to each Palestinian (opposed to each American who has 800 gallons of water available a day). If you think things couldn’t get worse in the Middle East, look to the foreseeable future, when usable water will be far more precious than oil." [4]
  • "Water, like air, is a necessity of human life. It is also, according to Fortune magazine, 'One of the world's great business opportunities. It promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th.' In the past ten years, three giant global corporations have quietly assumed control over the water supplied to almost 300 million people in every continent of the world." [5]
  • Water war "is a term devised by environmentalists for a type of conflict (most probably a form of guerrilla warfare) which has not yet occurred, but which they predict will happen sometime shortly after the millennium through an acute shortage of water for drinking and irrigation. About 40 per cent of the world's populations are already affected to some degree, but population growth, climate change and rises in living standards will worsen the situation: the UN Environment Agency warns that almost 3 billion people will be severely short of water within 50 years. Experts point to the disaster of the Aral Sea, which has already lost three-quarters of its water through diversion for irrigation of the rivers feeding it. Possible flash points have been predicted in the Middle East, parts of Africa and in many of the world's major river basins, including the Danube. The term has been used for some years, happily only in a figurative sense, to describe disputes in the southern and south-western United States over rights to water extraction from rivers and aquifers." [6]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Water statistics: Water resources," UN Water website, accessed April 2009.
  2. "Water" in "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts," CIA Report, 2000.
  3. "Talking Point: Ask Boutros Boutros Ghali," BBC News, June 10, 2003.
  4. Susan Williams, "Water wars," Indiana University, October 12, 2002.
  5. "Water for Profit: How Multinationals Are Taking Control of a Public Resource, CBC News, February 2003.
  6. Michael Quinion, "Water war," WorldWideWords.org, 1996-2009.

External resources


  • Vandana Shiva, "Water Wars. Privatization, Pollution, and Profit," South End Press, 2002 ISBN 089608650X. Excerpt.
  • Diane Raines Ward, "Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly and the Politics of Thirst," Penguin Putnam, 2002 ISBN 1573222291.
  • David A. McDonald, "The Age of Commodity: Water Privatization in Southern Africa," Earthscan Publications, 2005 ISBN 1844071340.




External articles

Article series

General articles