Conflict or Cooperation over Water 6

Conflict or Cooperation over Water Part VI

Desalination of seawater. Many plans have been made, but the costs are still high. The method provides 3–4 per cent of the drinking water used in the world, or 0.34 per cent of all water use. This technology is largely limited to the capital and oil-rich states of the Middle East, Australia and Japan.
Purchase.We see another form of hunting for new water resources when some countries with little water – such as China and Saudi Arabia – buy the right to produce food in Africa and thus also the right to their water. They thus bring production to where there is plenty of water. If Saudi Arabia continues to over-consume its large groundwater reserves in the same way as today (85 percent of water consumption goes to irrigation), the country will run out of water within 30 years. Therefore, they choose to locate production to countries with more water.

We also see large-scale plans to go the other way – to transport fresh water from water-rich to water-poor countries – for example from Alaska to the Middle East. But how many countries have the money to buy such water? Also: Is this economically and ecologically viable?

12: Reduce demand – manage the water better

More efficient technology . The amount of water in the world is given, and humans in parts of the world already consume their water. The solution to the water problem is therefore not so much a question of increasing access as doing something about the way we use the lake. A technological advance can be behind using the water more efficiently – producing more with less use of water .

One partial answer may lie in the sector that uses the most water, namely agriculture. With drip or drip technology in irrigation agriculture, plants are supplied with exactly the amount of water they can benefit from, and little is wasted. With terrace cultivation of rice, one can also get much more rice left for a given amount of water. Better pipes for transporting water and sewage and replacing old pipes are other ways to remedy the shortage of water.

Many will say that the individual must change their attitude and become more aware of their water consumption, especially for people in arid areas. Shower shorter time (and thus also save energy), use less water for washing and do not let the water run unnecessarily between such measures.

Some countries import water by using up common resources without neighboring countries having the political or military weight to stop them. According to, Egypt, for example, is completely dependent on one resource that flows through nine upstream states (soon 10). As a former Egyptian foreign minister and UN secretary-general, Boutros-Ghali said in 1989: “Egypt’s national security lies in the hands of the other nine African states in the Nile River.”

Pricing of water. A strategy that has been in the wind for some time, not least under pressure from the World Bank, is that suppliers – public or private – must pay for water to a greater extent than before.. The idea is that people will be more careful with their use when water costs money. Since everyone must have a certain amount of water to survive, it is still difficult to price water in line with other goods. How should one then price the lake so that everyone can get to their basic needs without having to pay large parts of their income on water? Can a top-price system be used where a smaller basic consumption is delivered at an affordable price? In Bolivia and a number of other countries, people have rebelled against what they see as unfair water prices. Is it reasonable for a slum without access to pipe water to pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than one who has such access?

Transition to less water-intensive production in dry areas. We have mentioned virtual water in front. One strategy for getting out of a situation with a shortage of water may be to switch to more use of virtual water in a dry country. This means converting production in the country to less water-intensive production and rather importing the most water-demanding products. But then the question will arise: Is it possible to produce cotton elsewhere than in dry areas? Should Israel produce less oranges that require a lot of water, and rather use their scarce water resources for other products?

Reports and forecasts show that the world needs better management of the blue gold – of water resources. This is where work comes in to enable and enforce international agreements on common water resources. The same applies to work within countries to redistribute water between users and sectors. Often it can mean having to challenge the prevailing power relations.

Conflict or Cooperation over Water 6

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