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Water strategy of Kyrgyzstan. Does the "water apartheid" threaten the world? Part One.

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 16:14

The UN estimates that in today's world almost 900 million people don’t have access to clean water and 2.7 billion people live in unsanitary conditions. Water, which makes life possible, brings death to millions of people who cannot use any means of hygiene and sanitation. Every 20 seconds a child dies from the diseases caused by the lack of clean water, and about 8 to 20 thousand people die in the world every day from the lack of safe drinking water, and for the year this number is from 3 to 7.5 million people. During the World War II polluted water killed even more people than all the armed conflicts and violence in all its forms.
The present global water deficit may occur in 20-25 years. And if you do not take drastic measures, then in the middle of this century humanity may face with the war not for gold or oil, but because of the water. According to some scientists, the crisis will be so grave that it would call into question the very existence of human civilization. If at the beginning of the XXI century 40% of the world’s population lived in areas with limited water resources, then in 10-12 years this problem will be relevant even for 60-65% of population. It is about 5 billion people, more than 80 countries.
Every third world’s citizen lacks water, or it is of low quality. By 2050 the number of people that seriously affected by water deficit will increase to 4 billion people. According to UNESCO, only in Asia, 700 million people, representing nearly half the population, do not have adequate water supply and 180 million people do not have adequate sanitation. By 2025, world’s population growth will lead to a crisis spreading to another 17 countries, including India, and if it affects China, no one can predict what will happen next. Even in prosperous Europe, 23 million people suffer from a deficit of drinking water (World Health Organization).
Today, the lack of potable water is felt not only in Africa and Asia, but also in America, the Middle East, in Central Australia and in the developed countries of Europe. In the world there are only three states that are self-sufficient with fresh drinking water. These are Russia, Brazil and Canada. In the Old World Scandinavian countries and the countries that have mountain ranges - the Alps and the Pyrenees can boast about having freshwater. For example, Switzerland, whose lakes are fed by alpine glaciers. From Asian countries we can only include our country, where the total water flow is 51 billion cubic meters per year.
According to environmentalists, today every fifth citizen of the Earth is regularly confronted with the lack of access to water, which could be considered as a drinking water and appropriate by the sanitary standards. Only 0.75% of the total water available on earth is fresh water, it is only 3% of the total mass of water, and the world can use only half of the available stocks. Thus, today, mankind uses less than 0.08% of the total stock of water available on earth. In the next twenty years, according to some estimates, the water consumption could grow to 40%. Availability of freshwater resources is the basis for human survival and the maintenance of terrestrial ecosystems.
Water is essential for human survival. Scientists predict that Earth's population over half a century will grow by more than 4 billion people and, of course, there will be a new global deficit: a great lack of water will be felt more acutely, especially the lack of drinking water. Today, however, water reserves are at the limit. The deficit will increase as the global use of water is growing at a rate more than twice higher than the world population increased last century. With the growth of world economy will grow its "thirst." With the growing of the level of global temperatures the flow of "water refugees" also increased.
The World Bank said that today more than 80 countries around the world face a fresh water deficit, and, according to the UN statistics, 31 states faced a threat of serious water crisis. (It is estimated that the deficit starts when the water content drops to 1,700 liters per person per year, and the crisis starts when every person has less than a thousand liters per year). It is no coincidence; fresh water deficit is recognized by the UN as the most important challenge facing mankind. This is a problem of all the people - rich and poor, the countries of North and South.
At the current pace, some regions of Africa only in a century will be able to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation to all its citizens. It turns out a kind of "water apartheid" that separates rich from poor.
Water is essential for human survival. Scientists predict that Earth's population over half a century will grow by more than 4 billion people and, of course, there will be a new global deficit: a great lack of water will be felt more acutely, especially the lack of drinking water. Today, however, water reserves are at the limit. The deficit will increase as the global use of water is growing at a rate more than twice higher than the world population increased last century. With the growth of world economy will grow its "thirst." With the growing of the level of global temperatures the flow of "water refugees" also increased.
This humanitarian catastrophe has been going on for several generations. And no one is able to stop it.
Quality of life is made up of many factors. And one of the most important is the environment, environmental well-being. This is the purity of air we breathe, the purity of water we drink. Its availability is really the most important factors that determine the quality of life. According to the experts, 20% of all diseases are due to the poor condition of the environment. Only by improving the quality of water consumed, life expectancy could increase by 5-7 years in a decade. Such assessments force to look at this issue with much attention. In fact, the current unsatisfactory low life expectancy in Kyrgyzstan is largely associated with water quality.
Solution of water and sanitation problems is not just a good thing, but a promising business project that will benefit to the world economy. According to the United Nations Environment Program, an investment of $ 20 million in low-cost water treatment technology can help 200 million rural families get out of poverty. $ 15 billion a year allocated to achieve the "Millennium goals" will give economic benefits in the amount of $ 38 billion.
Now they are making active efforts to create and develop the largest consumer market of the 21st century - a market of clean drinking water. Probably water-saving technologies will become especially important around the world in the coming decades. With every year humanity consumes more and more truly priceless water. At the same time the water price increases. Over the past 50 years, oil prices have increased in 10 times; and for the water for household use in about 100 times; for the drinking water - in 1000 times. Industry production of bottled water - is one of the fastest growing in the world, and even the oil complex is far behind. Total sales in 2009 amounted 110 billion liters, and profits exceeded $ 1 trillion.
Water business is becoming one of the most dynamic in the world. It is growing at 30-40%. Profits in this industry reach 1 trillion dollars per year which is 40% of the profits of oil companies and more than pharmaceutical company profits. In the list of millionaires were the first magnates due to the sales of drinking water.
The recognition of access to safe water and sanitation as a human right - is an important, necessary step in the struggle for life. For the first time this idea was expressed by civil society organizations more than a decade ago. Today it is widely recognized, and the leaders of many countries support it.
In 1996 the World Water Council was created, and the participants were more than 50 countries. According to the representatives of the International Water Management Institute, the water consumption over the past 100 years has increased in seven times, while world population tripled.
Last year, for the first time in the UN history in the General Assembly historic resolution, declaring the human right to "safe and clean drinking water and sanitation" was set to a vote. 190 countries, including Kyrgyzstan, directly or indirectly recognized this right. The UN has made efforts to draw public attention to the Millennium Development Goals. These goals include the reduction of the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. Analysis of the problems in the health sector faced by the poorest inhabitants of the planet and these problems are mostly diseases such as malaria or tuberculosis, as well as the growth in food prices and environmental degradation leads to the conclusion that it often happens that the problem is in the lack of water resources. In 2007, leaders of the Asia-Pacific region said they considered it one of the most important factors in ensuring security. In March 2010, all countries of the European Union made a statement underlining the need to implement this law.
The Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, John Kerry, in a report released on February 22, 2011 in the press department of the Government of the United States on the topic: "How to avoid water wars": Water deficit and the growing importance of Central Asia for the stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan" noted that "For the first time senior officials recognize the important role of water management in achieving goals in foreign policy and national security interests ".
Director Peter Gleick, a co-founder and president of Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security says that in case of water deficit, the competition for limited supplies can make the states consider an access to water as a matter of national security. In history there are many examples of competition and disputes over shared freshwater resources. National security issue is compounded by a water deficit caused by the needs of agriculture, hydropower, energy and climate variability and it will be felt globally.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged to take advantage of the World Water Forum which is to be held in 2012 in Marseille, France, in order to declare the universal right to safe water and sanitation at the international level. I hope that Kyrgyz government will have a chance to participate in this forum and to tell their positions.
The division between rich and poor by water management should make us think seriously.
Water is a key object of the ecological balance of the planet, and it is one of the symbols of interdependence and mutual understanding of the world community. Whatever it was, water is a strategic resource of geopolitics and the whole world. For example, Russia had a strong position about it because there is concentrated a quarter of the world's fresh water, and which territory includes about 5 million of freshwater sources. Only 1% of water is used. Today Russian government is working to provide people with clean drinking water with the "production of innovative domestic equipment". There are disputes over the use of the filters invented by Viktor Petrik. These filters, according to his claims, "make the radioactive water into water that is good for drinking and it prolongs human life to 140 years."
Conflicts over water can occur both inside and outside the country. Since 1994, the Pacific Institute has been recording a chronology of historical debates over water resources. Local and sub-national conflicts are increasing in severity and intensity of international conflicts, taking into account the fact that disputes over water distribution through local and ethnic boundaries or between economic groups also lead to conflicts. National Intelligence Council voiced these concerns in the Global Trends 2025: in a transformed world water deficit is especially felt in Asia and the Middle East, therefore it will be difficult to co-operate in the regulation of water resources within and between the states. In the Middle East the price of a barrel of drinking water some time ago exceeded the cost of a barrel of oil. This question is being actively discussed by several international organizations in Europe, Asia and the United States.
The waters, flowing between India and Pakistan, in contrast to Central Asia, are managed by the Treaty on Indus Waters. This is a long-term agreement, signed by the governments of India, Pakistan and the World Bank. The treaty was signed in 1960 and it is considered to be the most successful agreement on the allocation of water resources in the world. This agreement has been remained intact for 50 years and it went through four Indo-Pakistani Wars.
The agreement allows Pakistan to monitor the "Western Rivers" (the Indus, Zhelum and Chenab), and India controls "Eastern Rivers" (Sutlej, Beas and Ravi) up to the border with Pakistan. The agreement specifies the quantity of water, which both countries will receive from these rivers and it also plays an important role in regulating the use of rivers for hydroelectric projects. It sets out principles for the hydropower plants on the eastern rivers, and it allows Pakistan to focus on projects, and defines mechanisms for resolving conflicts.
The U.S. political circles have already recognized that water issues in Central Asia is a key issue in the geopolitics of the region and have identified water as a basic element of foreign policy.
Particularly serious is the situation in the Middle East. Jordan and Israel can not share the waters of Jordan, and Syria and Iraq express extreme dissatisfaction with the policy of Turkey, which is situated on the rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, originating in Anatolia, many dikes and dams, diverting water to their storage. The most interesting is the fact that the Turkish authorities do not hide their intents that, by adjusting the flow of water in the Arab countries, Turkey could control the policy in the region. Turkey and Egypt are against securing the right to water mainly because of the conflicts over water allocation between neighboring states. Illustrative examples are the tragedy of the Aral Sea in the USSR and the drying up of the Murray Basin - Darling in Australia.
Drought in Turkey in 1993 forced its government to buy about 16 billion cubic meters of water from neighboring Bulgaria, and paid 0,12 cents for each cubic. Canada sells water to the USA for 5 cents per cubic meter, South Africa pays Swaziland, India pays Nepal, and all Europe produces mutual settlements for water supply. This is a win-win approach, because the countries of the upper flows prevent floods, store water in special reservoirs and lower it to the downstream countries in the most desired vegetation period.
Beginning form the 1940s, Syria, Jordan and Israel could not agree on the norms of water consumption of the Jordan River. Each state built dams, canals in order to divert as much water as possible from the common rivers. This led to the war. The entire Middle East, North Africa, and South-East Asia are experiencing a deficit of water resources. For them the solution to this problem is on a par with the elimination of poverty, ensuring political stability, etc. Tensions between the countries increase especially during periods of drought.
Water resources play an important role as the main driving force of human security. It must be recognized that the threat of so-called "water wars" has not become a reality yet. Conversely, many regions that are threatened by water deficit managed to avoid conflicts through discussion, compromise and agreement. This is due to the fact that water, as an international, an indispensable element, can serve as a cornerstone for building trust and this is a condition for reaching peace.
So, for our country cooperation on water issues with international organizations such as UN, OSCE, especially within the framework of "Millennium Goals" program is a priority. And we must take into account international experience on water issues.

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