Archive for the ‘Water Conflicts’ Category

Forthcoming lecture on “Scarcity, Conflict, & Security: The Future of Water for Israel & Her Neighbors”

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

For those of you who will be in the Portland, Oregon, area on June 1, I have been asked to give a lecture to the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland on Scarcity, Conflict, & Security: The Future of Water for Israel & Her Neighbors. The lecture will take place at the Benson Hotel, located at 309 SW Broadway in Portland, OR, 12noon to 1:30 pm. There is a $20 admission fee (unfortunately, I have no control over this). You can find a flyer about the program here and register for the program here.

Yes, this lecture was originally scheduled for May 19. However, I was just invited to serve on a UNESCO IHP delegation to a UNEP Conference on “Strengthening Transboundary Freshwater Governance – The Environmental Sustainability Challenge” to be held in Bangkok, Thailand. The Jewish Federation was very gracious about rescheduling my talk.

Climate Change and the Spread of Disease

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

As swine flu continues to wreck havoc in the life of Mexico City residents and threatens to escalate to a global pandemic, the question of whether climate change might have a role in spread of disease seems appropriate. The short answer is “YES,” climate is likely to have a significant effect on the proliferation and geographic distribution of diseases.

Many of the world’s most notorious and persistent diseases, for example, are directly related to the lack of clean water and proper sanitation. The UN, in its 3rd World Water Assessment Report, attributes nearly three million deaths annually to such maladies. As temperatures rise, vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever are expected to expand their range into regions that previously had been inhospitable to them. Likewise, where climate change causes precipitation to increase, water-borne pathogens including bacteria, parasites and algal blooms will flourish. The result will be a significant geographical shift in the range and proliferation of various diseases.

In the case of swine flu and other diseases originating in animals, changing climates could disrupt normal geographic movements and distributions of animals harboring such diseases. These disruptions could bring the pathogens into closer contact with other animals and pathogens, as well as humans, and could result in alternate transmission routes and, possibly, alternate mutations.

Last October (2008), the Wildlife Conservation Society (a US organization based at the Bronx Zoo that operates in 60 nations to save wildlife and habitats worldwide), issued its “deadly dozen” list of diseases that could spread into new regions and become more virulent as a result of climate change. Among others, the list included avian flu, one of the three genetic components of the Mexico swine influenza. The complete “deadly dozen” list includes [in alphabetical order]:

  1. Avian influenza
  2. Babesia
  3. Cholera
  4. Ebola
  5. Intestinal and External Parasites
  6. Lyme Disease
  7. Plague
  8. Red Tides
  9. Rift Valley Fever
  10. Sleeping Sickness (trypanosomiasis)
  11. Tuberculosis
  12. Yellow Fever

A Reuters article discussing the Society’s report can be found here. The Society has brochure that describes the “deadly dozen” diseases and their interaction with climate change here.

Friends of the Earth Middle East and World Bank’s report on restrictions on Palestinian water sector

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) – a regional environmental NGO composed of Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians cooperating to promote sustainable development and sustainable peace in the region – recently issued the statement Water Being Held Hostage to the Conflict.  The statement is a response to the recently released World Bank report Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development (PDF) (see the press release here), which “reveals the extent to which water resources and sustainable development are being held hostage to the conflict.”

 

In its statement, FoEME “calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to replace the failed Joint Water Committee (JWC) with a new joint water management structure.”  It also calls on “the Quartet led by the new Administration of US President Barak Obama to focus on the dire Palestinian water economy as a matter of urgency and help the parties replace the JWC with a new institution that empowers both sides as equal partners.”

 

Referring to its past reports, FoEME asserted that the Joint Water Committee had “failed the interests of both peoples, not providing the water quantities needed to Palestinians and not protecting shared Israeli/Palestinian water resources from large scale pollution.”  Nader Khateeb, Palestinian Director of FoEME, said in the statement that: “It is time to replace the failed mechanism of the Joint Water Committee, established under Oslo, with an institution where Palestinians and Israelis are true partners in both water supply and management responsibilities.”

 

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of FoEME (and a friend of mine), stated: “The irony is that due to the water crises, following 5 consecutive years of draught, pollution largely from Palestinian sources poses an ever increasing threat to the declining shared water reserves … A key problem with the JWC is that it has disempowered the Palestinians from being able to take responsibility for water management. The Palestinians receive so little of the shared water, that Israelis must ask themselves, what incentive do Palestinians have to protect shared water from pollution?”

 

The statement notes that “In 2008, FoEME released a Model Water Agreement that called for the replacement of the Joint Water Committee with a new body where equivalent powers and responsibilities would lie with both sides covering all shared water resources.”

Jordan protests Syrian water sharing ‘violations’

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

According to The Jordan Times and other sources, Jordan is accusing Syria of violating a water-sharing agreement over the Yarmouk river by cultivating summer crops on the banks of the River.

 

According to the article “Under agreements signed between the two countries, Syria’s share of water from the Wihdeh Dam, which is built on the Yarmouk River, is six million cubic metres (mcm) for agricultural purposes, provided that the dam reaches its full capacity of 110mcm.

 

But for the first time since its construction two years ago, the dam currently holds only 18mcm, and thus Syria’s share declines to 1mcm. The neighbouring country, however, is pumping more than its allocated share to water crops planted all the way from downstream of Wihdeh Dam to Al Raqqad Valley located on the banks of the Yarmouk River.”

 

Jordan contends that “The river’s flow dropped from 1,200 litres per second last year to 900 litres per second currently, which is blamed on the cultivation of crops on the river’s banks.”

 

You can find the following two treaties between Jordan and Syria related to the Yarmouk River on the IWLP website:

  • Agreement Between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordanian and the Syrian Republic for the Utilization of the Waters of the Yarmuk River. Signed in Amman, 3 September 1987
  • Agreement Between the Republic of Syria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Concerning the Utilization of the Yarmouk Waters. Signed at Damascus, 4 June 1953; in force 8 July 1953