When Water Scarcity Leads to Conflict
AK-47s, grenades, water? Earth's most precious resource doesn't fire bullets or explode but it is guarded, hoarded, and stolen in a way that ignites political tensions on a local level and an international scale.
This month, we travel to Sub Saharan and Pakistan to bring you the stories of those caught up in the struggle to secure clean water. We’ll hear from unapologetic water thieves, reporters turned refugees, and rural residents whose way of life may be completed decimated because of the wording in a decades old international treaty. Also the voices of American officials, NGO’s, and entrepreneurs on what the West can and should do to help those in need.
This hour was written and edited by Martha Little and produced by Rob Sachs, with additional production help from Flawn Williams. Our intern is Michael Abrams. Photo Credits: Michael May, Manyang David Mayer, Malik Ayub Sumbal, Abayomi Azikiwe.
In the slums of Nairobi, Kenya is a project to get clean water to the poor run by a cooperative of women. These women address a more subtle type of conflict,that between the “haves and the have nots”, a sort of ”urban water wars.” Michael May has this report.
The introduction of better water management and water technology can change lives in places like Sub Saharan Africa. And it’s not just Sub Saharan Africa where water is a problem. The United Nations estimates that three-quarters of a billion people lack access to clean water and that almost two-point-five billion lack access to adequate sanitation. So we thought we would look around the world to find some other technologies that might make a difference.
On the border with South Sudan, is a Turkana village called Loblono, in Northern Kenya. These Turkana people have survived for centuries in one of the harshest landscapes on earth, the dry-as-a-bone desert that also stretches across South Sudan and Somalia. They live a nomadic lifestyle based on herding cattle, chasing the rain and the grasslands that sprout from the desert when it’s wet. The Turkana have always been in conflict with neighboring tribes, like the Poquot and the Taposas. But, in recent years, dwindling water supplies have exacerbated the conflict on this smallest of scales. Reporter Michael May visited and brought back this report.
Americans probably know Somalia best from Tom Hanks’ 2013 film, “Captain Phillips,” in which Somali pirates hijack an unarmed container ship off the Horn of Africa. As the film demonstrates, lawlessness is a way of life in Somalia. And when you add civil war to the mix, life is unspeakably hard. The lack of a stable central government in Somalia has left the country vulnerable to conflict between clan rivalries and infiltration by terrorists for two decades. Somalia reporter Mahad Omar Diyire lives in Kenyan but returned home to file this report.
Pakistan is one of the most “water-insecure” countries in Asia according to the 2013 Asian Development Bank report. And one of the hardest hit areas in Pakistan is Sindh province, it’s mostly desert. It is the Northernmost region and shares a border with India. Here, migration in search of water is a way of life. And those who live here say that India is making their life harder. Independent journalist Malik Ayub Sumbal went to Sindh and filed this report.