Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Water management critical to peacebuilding


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24 March 2014. Restoring access to water in conflict area is critical to post-conflict situation according to a new study.

 In times of war, water resources and infrastructure are often destroyed or become inaccessible to large segments of people living in conflict areas. Restoring these critical services can avert humanitarian crises and rebuild state authority, according to a new study launched on the occasion of World Water Day by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the University of Tokyo, McGill University, and Duke University.

 

According to the study, entitled Water and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, effective water management is vital for mitigating new tensions over water resources, with some 1.8 billion people expected to face absolute water scarcity in the next decade.
Cooperation over water management, the study says, can serve to restore trust among divided communities as well as between neighboring countries. Early intervention in the water sector can also help societies set the foundation for more equitable and sustainable water use and in turn support better economic recovery.

Today, countries are beginning to recognize water management is critical for peace and development: of the 55 countries affected by major conflict between 1990 and 2013, the study shows that 30 of those addressed water management in their post-conflict constitutions.

"The sound governance of water resources is vital for promoting peace and stability and is among the highest priorities during post-conflict recovery and peace building. Water, sanitation, and the related infrastructure are also critical to economic development and the recovery of livelihoods in the aftermath of war." said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The study further demonstrates the steps that post-conflict countries can undertake to provide reliable sources of water for the restoration of agricultural livelihoods and food security, including data collection, repairing damaged irrigation networks, and improving governance systems. It emphasizes the need for cross-sectoral coordination in order to manage competing interests and mitigate new conflicts.

Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNAMID

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