Failure to regulate fresh water could lead to resource wars

27 Jul 2016 12:10pm
WINDHOEK, 27 JUL (NAMPA) - At least 800 rivers worldwide are likely subjects of inter-state disputes if not properly regulated, says Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa.
This, he said, is because countries extract increasing amounts of water to irrigate crops and supply water to growing populations, as well as to expand businesses and industries.
Mutorwa was speaking during a presentation on foreign policies and issues related to agriculture like water, forestry and food security, at the five-day Foreign Policy Review conference which started here on Monday.
The conference has thus far covered issues of sustainable development and the role of foreign policy in shaping them in line with development agendas.
The aim of the review is to analyse the impact of global changes on Namibia’s domestic policies, reflect new and emerging issues and identify strategic priorities of the country’s Foreign Policy, to maximise the benefits derived from international engagement.
Mutorwa said tackling the issue of proper regulating of fresh water has long been an urgent international task. However, as it is with other environmental issues, the financial, technological and political ability or will to put proper regulations in place is not always universally shared.
“Competition over access to, or possession of, fresh water resources which is an indispensable life giving and life sustaining commodity, is and remains an increasingly important aspect of contemporary world politics,” he said.
He added that failure to regulate fresh water could lead to resource wars, as the quality and quantity of water for downstream states, progressively diminish.
Resource wars refer to conflicts triggered by a struggle to grab valuable resources.
The minister also informed diplomats that competition for water between households, industry and agriculture in the next 20 years would leave little margin to sustain ecosystems in many parts of the world. Climate change is expected to worsen the situation.
“But solutions will only be useful if they can be implemented where the water falls, flows or is stored involving the people who use it,” he added.
Mutorwa called for Africa to scrutinise any policies which are negative to its economic growth and to maintain tough bargaining positions in the interest of the majority of the people in Africa.
The conference, organised by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, ends on Friday.