WPS early warning update predicts increased drought-induced conflicts
A recent update of the Water, Peace and Security (WPS) partnership global early warning tool predicts conflict in parts of drought-stricken Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The drought threatens a fourth consecutive growing season and puts the countries at risk of emerging conflicts.
Forecast of increasing risks...
The latest update also warns that floods in South Sudan and dwindling water resources in northern Cameroon could lead to conflict, and observes that the Middle East continues to be riddled by instability and protests related to a dire water situation. Furthermore, the update predicts emerging or continuing conflict for the next 12 months in much of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, noting that “the entire region is caught in a complex struggle with water insecurity and its many implications for people and the economies, as well as regional stability more broadly.”
WPS coordinator Susanne Schmeier, IHE Delft Associate Professor in Water Law and Diplomacy, said the region’s challenges are complex and interlinked. “As drought conditions continue in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin, countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria – all struggling with ineffective water management and policies – will continue to see protests and instability, but also a continuously increasing risk of regional tensions over shared water resources,” she said.
... but also hope
According to the report there is, however, also hope. New technology that makes desalination of water cheaper has enabled Israel to sell water to Jordan, one of the world’s most water-insecure countries. Though tensions around water between Jordan and Israel continue, the two countries in November 2021 signed a declaration of intent for a deal that would see Jordan export solar-produced energy to Israel in return for water deliveries. The tool does not predict extensive violent conflict in Israel or Jordan over the next 12 months.
Global early warning tool
The WPS tool applies machine learning to predict possible conflict up to a year in advance and notes that water-related challenges may be among the drivers of such conflict. The WPS Partnership’s latest update is based on an analysis of December 2021 data. The tool is developed and maintained by the IHE Delft-supported WPS Partnership, which also includes experts from the World Resources Institute, Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Wetlands International and International Alert.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool, launched in 2019, employs 15-20 global indicators proven to be the most significant from among more than 200 considered.
Water-related security threats
The WPS partnership was set up in 2018 to pioneer the development of innovative information tools and practical approaches that can support local and international actors who work in high-risk areas. These tools and approaches can help predict and prevent water-related security threats in a timely manner.
The WPS partnership includes an expanding group of organisations supported by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The current partners include: IHE Delft (lead), World Resources Institute, Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Wetlands International and International Alert. In addition, the consortium collaborates with a growing number of other organisations, including: Oregon State University and Clingendael – the Netherlands Institute of International Relations.