By Kartikaye Gilra:
Today’s water crisis is not an issue of scarcity, but of access. More people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet. And as cities and slums grow at increasing rates, the situation worsens. Every day, lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills thousands, leaving others with reduced quality of life. 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people. 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease. The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. People living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per litre of water than wealthy people living in the same city. Thus, it can be easily understood water is of significant importance to all the nations and a lot of struggle happens for the same reason. Water treaties have been signed in the past but have failed to solve the problem.
The 145 treaties which govern the world’s international watersheds, and the international law on which they are based, are in their respective infancies. More than half of these treaties include no monitoring provisions whatsoever and, perhaps as a consequence, two-thirds do not delineate specific allocations and four-fifths have no enforcement mechanism. Moreover, those treaties which do allocate specific quantities, allocate a fixed amount to all riparian states but one-that one state must then accept the balance of the river flow, regardless of fluctuations.
Humanity is facing “water bankruptcy” as a result of a crisis even greater than the financial meltdown now destabilising the global economy, two authoritative new reports show. They add that it is already beginning to take effect, and there will be no way of bailing the earth out of water scarcity.
The two reports — one by the world’s foremost international economic forum and the other by 24 United Nations agencies — presage the opening tomorrow of the most important conference on the looming crisis for three years. The World Water Forum, which will be attended by 20,000 people in Istanbul, will hear stark warnings of how half the world’s population will be affected by water shortages in just 20 years’ time, with millions dying and increasing conflicts over dwindling resources. A report by the World Economic Forum, which runs the annual Davos meetings of the international business and financial elite, says that lack of water, will “soon tear into various parts of the global economic system” and “start to emerge as a headline geopolitical issue”. It adds: “The financial crisis gives us a stark warning of what can happen if known economic risks are left to fester. We are living in a water ‘bubble’ as unsustainable and fragile as that which precipitated the collapse in world financial markets. We are now on the verge of bankruptcy in many places with no way of paying the debt back.”