Theoretically enough water exists for everyone on the planet, yet all too often it is in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts.
Theoretically enough water exists for everyone on the planet, yet all too often it is in the wrong place at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. And there is no shortage of humanitarian crises when this happens.
Half the world's population lives in countries where water is scarce. Lack of it and ineffective sanitation are largely blamed for the death of 11 million children under age five; the hunger of one billion people; the inadequate food and nutrition of two billion; and 60 million girls kept out of school each year.
Water scarcity causes tension and is increasingly seen as a threat to peace, making it the new, new oil. It's blamed for causing disease, hunger, and mass migration. Many believe conflict is inevitable, and the secretary of the United Nations has even predicted "water wars."
While it makes sense that people would fight for their most precious resource, so far there has been only one war, between Sudan and Egypt, over it. Marq de Villiers, author of The Water Wars, believes this is because countries are more likely to help each when it comes to water, a necessity of life. "You cannot do without water," he said, "when shortages pinch, states do cooperate and compromise."
Will goodwill run out when the water does? Is war for water inevitable?