Thursday, March 19, 2009

Selfish use of rivers seen threatening political stability

Reuters: Countries that selfishly use shared rivers threaten political stability at a time when water is scarce and demand is growing, a conservation group warned on Wednesday. Disputes over shared rivers such as the Tigris and the Euphrates could be resolved if nations put borders aside and viewed the entire river basin as a unit instead, they added.

In the past some states have built dams or siphoned water from rivers for irrigation without consulting neighbors downstream -- stirring political tension. "The question countries must face is are they interested only in holding all the water themselves and living in a destabilized region, or do they wish to share the water and cooperate?" said Mark Smith, head of the water program of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a body funded by states, and NGOs.

Rivers shared by more than one country provide about 60 percent of the world's fresh water. There are 260 international river basins in the world, covering half of the Earth's surface and home to 40 percent of the world's population....

The Euphrates River in Iraq, shot by Jayel Aheram, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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