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What's being occulted at COP 15: Fish Wars, Hydraulic conflicts, Water Wars- Climate change wars have already begun

By       Message Alex Engwete     Permalink
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"An elderly woman is given water in the Turkana region of Kenya." (September 2009)--(Credits)


We see the two degree target exposes over 100 countries to massive suffering and devastation...Ten billion dollars under the current scenarios will not buy the poor of developing countries coffins, let alone address the serious problems that this challenge is causing." (Sudan UN Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, speaking at COP15 on behalf of 77 developing countries)

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Henceforth, I'll always remember what my friend Alexis Sinduhije, now a Burundian opposition leader, told me several years ago as I was bemoaning the misery in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo during what has since been dubbed as Africa's World War. This is just the beginning, Sinduhije told me, the next war in the Great Lakes region will be about water!

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At the time, I didn't take Sinduhidje seriously. But since then, however, Sinduhije's words have proved to be prophetic.

The recent Fish War in the DRC where conflicts over halieutic [fishing] resources in two fish ponds in Dongo, in the northwestern Equateur Province of the DRC, have resulted in ethnic cleansing with more than 70,000 refugees in Congo-Brazzaville and the surrounding areas, tends to prove Sinduhije's prophecythough with its dense hydrographic grid still intact, the DRC would be the last country where two neighboring communities would fight over fish.

In 2007, Fre'de'ric Lassere, a professor at Laval University (Quebec) and an expert in the geopolitics of blue gold (water), in a seminal article, was arguably the first scientist to offer a model plotting the synergetic correlation between water scarcity and what he called hydraulic conflicts or water wars:

In the current context of changing climatic conditions and growing food needs, the pressure on hydraulic resources is sharply increasing. Water has become a major political issue and both the control and sharing of water, are now potential sources of conflicts. These can be inter-state conflicts or low-intensity internal ones, but in both cases, hydraulic conflicts often only exacerbate existing tensions between states or communities, and they could entail real water wars' if pushed to the extreme. The potential of conflict increases with the swiftness of the hydraulic rupture, which causes true water scarcity. However, societies appear more or less sensitive to this rupture, depending on their capacity of social adaptation.'

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Fre'de'ric Lasserre treats this issue globally. But in an expanded version of his 2007 article, Lasserre identifies the following cases of hydraulic conflicts exacerbating ethnic conflicts in the African Great Lakes region:

1) April 1999/February 2001: in Kenya, clashes between nomadic farmers and cattle raisers over access to water (around the Tana River) cause more than 100 victims;

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Alex Engwete is a Congolese-American who lives in Kinshasa (DRC) and Washington, DC. Outrage at injustices is what usually stirs him into blogging in French or in English. He likes Congolese beers and drinks "Samuel Adams" while in the United (more...)

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