While the First World War (WW-I) was mostly fought for gaining political, territorial and economic rights, Hitler’s aggressive policies were responsible for creating the Second World War (WW-II), the Third World War (WW-III) will soon be fought for gaining rights to the use of water all over the world. Needless to say, scarcity of water, especially that of aqua potable is going the hit the world in a dreadful form pretty soon.
What The NASA Says
In 2015, NASA’s satellite data revealed that 21 of the world’s 37 large aquifers (underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock) are severely water-stressed. With ever growing population, and increased demands from agriculture and industry, researchers indicated that this crisis is going from bad to worse, leading perhaps to another World War to gain supremacy in controlling the use of water.
What The Water Man of India Says
Rajendra Singh, known as the “water man of India,” is of the opinion that critically depleted aquifers around the world can be revived with community effort. For the past 32 years, through his NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh (Young India Organization), Singh has led community-based water harvesting and water management initiatives in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, an arid, semi-desert region in the northwest of India. For his work, Singh was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 2001, and the Stockholm Water Prize in 2015.
The following interview with Singh further clarifies the situation:
Q: You’ve often criticized states for taking a top-down, infrastructure-led approach to water management. Are governments generally supportive of alternative community-led initiatives? Is political and corporate support necessary?
RS: Governments usually don’t support community initiatives—they support contractors, not communities. The government always likes big projects in the name of combating desertification or rejuvenating the landscape: big dams, big canals, centralized irrigation water systems, pipeline drinking water systems. They create new canals even when the old canals are dry. There is no community participation in these projects. Every type of work is given to a contractor now. It is a contractor-driven democracy, not a people-driven democracy.
Q: Last year, you launched the ‘World Water Peace Walks’. What is the role of water in fostering world peace?
RS: The Third World War is at our gate, and it will be about water, if we don’t do something about this crisis. These walks are to raise awareness—this year we covered 17 countries.
The problem is that this “growing movement” comes into conflict with the diminishing supply of water around the world.
NASA recently came out with a mapped study revealing that 21 of the world’s major 37 water sources are distressed, largely because of climate change or overuse from human consumption. Many of these correlate with conflict regions or areas of high tension, such as the border between India and China, or Bhutan where the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin is currently mapped as “severely overstressed.”
Therefore, what can be done about this frightening imbalance between the need for water and its non-availability? Possibly a declaration of war between countries that do not have adequate water and those who have it by the force of military power, if necessary..
We need not have to remind ourselves that as of now, the global economy has started to come to terms with the truth that commodities such as oil are not infinite. So is water and therefore needs more careful evaluation. At the same time, people have learnt through centuries the evils of war, regardless of whether it is fought for acquiring land or extending power over more number of people. Waging a war for establishing claim over regions that are endowed with more water will not escape unnecessary loss of life and property. Moreover, people like Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace), Earnest Hemingway (For Whom The Bell tolls,) George Bernard Shaw (Arms and the Man) have told us the futility of starting a war in so many ways. However, a shift in the mindset of people all over the world around the value of water to avoid the conflict in a practical way is the only way out now