Water Security is National Security

Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Water wars: 21st century conflicts?

As almost half of humanity will face water scarcity by 2030, strategists from Israel to Central Asia prepare for strife.


After droughts ravaged his parents' farmland, Sixteen-year-old Hassain and his two-year-old sister Sareye became some of the newest refugees forced from home by war scarcity.

"There was nothing to harvest," Hassain said through an interpreter during an interview at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya which is housing some 160,000 Somalis displaced by a lack of water. "There had been no rain in my village for two years. We used to have crops."

As global warming alters weather patterns, and the number of people lacking access to water rises, millions, if not billions, of others are expected to face a similar fate as water shortages become more frequent.

Presently, Hassain is one of about 1.2 billion people living in areas of physical water scarcity, although the majority of cases are nowhere near as dire. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.

Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources. Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Water for Food: Innovative Water Management Technologies for Food Security and Povery Alleviation

Modern irrigation is one of the success stories of the 20th century. As the world’s population doubled, irrigated farming expanded from 40 million ha to almost 300 million ha today – a seven-fold increase.


This revolution in water technology increased food production through improved crop yields and enabled farmers to grow additional crops each year. China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan together account for almost half the world’s irrigated area and they rely on irrigation for more than half their domestic food production.
But the world’s population continues to grow, mostly in the LDCs, and so do concerns about food security and particularly the availability of water to grow crops. Global agricultural food production already accounts for 70 per cent of all water withdrawn from rivers and aquifers. Climate change will only make matters worse. Can agricultural water management (AWM) technologies provide innovative solutions that can help to meet this challenge of feeding a growing, mostly disadvantaged, population by producing more food but with fewer resources? This paper reviews the water-food-poverty nexus and examines the role that AWM technologies may play in achieving world food and water security.

URL: http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/dtlstict2011d2_en.pdf
Courtesy: UNCTAD

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Localisation Is A Key Part Of The Answer

Last week it emerged that the Department of Energy and Climate Change, whose official position remains that "we do not have any contingency plans specific to a peak in oil production", was actually stating in internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that "it is not possible to predict with any accuracy exactly when or why oil production will peak".


Energy bills are going nowhere other than up, with knock-on effects across the economy. The fossil fuels of the future will be dirtier, more expensive and from less accessible places. At the same time, the need to decarbonise is urgent. The world's carbon emissions increased in 2010 by a record amount, in spite of many of the world's economies being in recession, and 19 countries recorded their hottest ever temperatures.

In March, Mervyn King, Governor Bank of England, said: "This is not like an ordinary recession where you lose output and get it back quickly. You may not get it back for many years, if ever, and that is a big, long-run loss of living standards for all people in this country." When something isn't working, it behoves us to question whether a different approach might be more appropriate.

One such approach, spreading around the world with great vigour, is the Transition movement. It suggests that within the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and our economic troubles lies a huge opportunity. In the same way that vast amounts of cheap fossil fuels made globalisation possible, the end of the age of cheap oil will inevitably put globalisation into reverse. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Groundwater Depletion Rate Accelerating Worldwide

ScienceDaily — In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled, say scientists who have conducted an unusual, global assessment of groundwater use.


These fast-shrinking subterranean reservoirs are essential to daily life and agriculture in many regions, while also sustaining streams, wetlands, and ecosystems and resisting land subsidence and salt water intrusion into fresh water supplies. Today, people are drawing so much water from below that they are adding enough of it to the oceans (mainly by evaporation, then precipitation) to account for about 25 percent of the annual sea level rise across the planet, the researchers find.

Soaring global groundwater depletion bodes a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system, says Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and leader of the new study.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Growing Goat Herds Signal Global Grassland Decline

After the earth was created, soil formed slowly over geological time from the weathering of rocks. It began to support early plant life, which protected and enriched it until it became the topsoil that sustains the diversity of plants and animals we know today.


Now the world’s ever-growing herds of cattle, sheep, and goats are converting vast stretches of grassland to desert. One indicator that helps us assess grassland health is changes in the goat population relative to those of sheep and cattle. As grasslands deteriorate, grass is typically replaced by desert shrubs. In such a degraded environment, cattle and sheep do not fare well. But goats—being particularly hardy ruminants—forage on the shrubs. Goats are especially hard on the soil because their sharp hoofs pulverize the protective crust of soil that is formed by rainfall and that naturally checks wind erosion. Between 1970 and 2009, the world’s cattle population increased by 28 percent and the number of sheep stayed relatively static. Meanwhile, goat herds more than doubled.

Growth in goat populations is particularly dramatic in some developing countries. While cattle herds in Pakistan doubled between 1961 and 2009 and the number of sheep nearly tripled, the goat population grew more than sixfold and is now roughly equal to that of the cattle and sheep populations combined. These livestock have grazed the countryside bare of its rainfall-retaining vegetation, contributing to the massive flooding that ravaged Pakistan in the summer of 2010. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics

Post-Growth Geopolitics


As nations compete for currency advantages, they are also eyeing the world’s diminishing resources—fossil fuels, minerals, agricultural land, and water. Resource wars have been fought since the dawn of history, but today the competition is entering a new phase.

Nations need increasing amounts of energy and materials to produce economic growth, but—as we have seen—the costs of supplying new increments of energy and materials are increasing. In many cases all that remains are lower-quality resources that have high extraction costs. In some instances, securing access to these resources requires military expenditures as well. Meanwhile the struggle for the control of resources is re-aligning political power balances throughout the world.

The U.S., as the world’s superpower, has the most to lose from a reshuffling of alliances and resource flows. The nation’s leaders continue to play the game of geopolitics by 20th century rules: They are still obsessed with the Carter Doctrine and focused on petroleum as the world’s foremost resource prize (a situation largely necessitated by the country’s continuing overwhelming dependence on oil imports, due in turn to a series of short-sighted political decisions stretching back at least to the 1970s). The ongoing war in Afghanistan exemplifies U.S. inertia: Most experts agree that there is little to be gained from the conflict, but withdrawal of forces is politically unfeasible. More >>>

This article is the part 6 from Chapter 5 of Richard Heinberg's new book 'The End of Growth', which is set for publication by New Society Publishers in August 2011. This chapter 'Shrinking Pie: Competition and Relative Growth in a Finite World' looks in greater depth at the prospects for further development in in an increasingly resource strained environment.

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Perfect Storm for Hunger: New Oxfam report tackles broken food system

The global food system is broken,” reads a new report from Oxfam International.


While much of Growing a Better Future: Food Justice in a Resource-Constrained World essentially reviews the major factors that contribute to food insecurity, Oxfam’s call to transform the food system is certainly timely, given this year’s high food prices (blamed in part for inflaming popular revolts in the Middle East) and fears of another global food crisis.

Despite producing enough food for everyone, one in seven people globally face chronic under-nutrition and almost one billion people are food insecure. Hunger is concentrated within rural areas in developing countries, and within families, women are often disproportionally affected, having serious implications for maternal and child health.

“We face three interlinked challenges in an age of growing crisis: feeding nine billion without wrecking the planet; finding equitable solutions to end disempowerment and injustice; and increasing our collective resilience to shocks and volatility,” write the authors of the report. More >>>



Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Wetness of Water

Water is amazing. It occupies about 2/3rds of the Earth’s surface.


It is the basis of life in many ways. It interacts with the atmosphere as a major cleanser of sorts. So how does it do it? Some water molecules split the difference between gas and liquid, a study in Nature shows. Air and water meet over most of the earth’s surface, but exactly where one ends and the other begins turns out to be a surprisingly subtle question. A new study in Nature narrows the boundary to just one quarter of water molecules in the uppermost layer — those that happen to have one hydrogen atom in water and the other vibrating freely above.

Some water molecules straddle the gas and liquid interphase, according to senior author and USC Dornsife Associate Professor of Chemistry Alexander Benderskii, who said the free hydrogen behaves like an atom in gas phase, while its twin below acts much like the other atoms that make up the bulk of the water. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Joint Efforts to Map Water Levels Across Arab Countries

June 9, 2011—Across and within Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon, water levels in reservoirs and rivers, rainfall patterns and soil moisture will be mapped by satellites high overhead.


This new view of water systems will allow leaders to monitor local and regional drought and flood conditions, track evaporation from lakes and reservoirs, and even estimate future water supplies and crop yields.
This new project, financed by the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility, is the first in a series of investments under the Arab World Initiative approved by the World Bank Board of Directors.

In the past, information on water has come from people and equipment on the ground. But collecting data in the field is often expensive and difficult to gather and verify. Satellite images can provide a unique view, across mountains and borders, and provide it almost instantly.

Not Enough Water-20% Less
Water supplies have a major impact on agriculture and the environment. A steady water supply is also essential for city life. Cities are growing in size and population throughout the region. And, because of climate change, experts predict an increasingly dry future. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that rainfall in many parts of the region will decrease by over 20% during the next century. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Editorial: Mr. President - Are you insane or just blind.

With the greatest respect I would like to ask all world leaders "Are you insane or just blind?"


The world is beset by a perfect storm of peak oil, climate change and an out of control population. all of which are potential conflict triggers.

The high cost and apparently constrained supplies of petroleum are causing blackouts, rolling brownouts and falling productivity in over fifty countries around the globe as I write this.

Climate change has the potential, given the expected rise in average global temperatures, to raise sea level by one metre by the end of the century, inundating islands, coastal plains and deltas around the globe.

Changes in rainfall patterns along with the melting of glaciers could disrupt food production in many of the worlds most populous countries causing famine. Droughts are now evident in states around the world. China is building canal over 1700 kilometers long in an attempt to bring water to water stressed northern areas of the country. Agriculture accounts for at least 70% of a countries water usage. South Asia which is home to well over one fifth of the world's population, is dependent on the seasonal monsoon rains for much of their food production as well as glacial melt water which is the source of the major rivers in the region. As temperatures rise the glaciers will melt, and if the rainfall patterns change millions may perish.

We could see refugee flows the likes of which have never been seen in recorded history, caused by any or all of the above scenarios. Climate Change Refugees will flow from areas of famine to areas where there is food. They will do so legally or illegally and they will be forced to do so even if it costs them their life.

No country can mitigate or adapt to the coming changes on its own. The only way that the human race can survive with a reasonably tolerable level of civilization is by working together. We no longer have time for political bickering, posturing or arguing within states or between states.

The time is now. We have to protect the major portions of the global commons, the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere. Humans need these to survive, we need the plants, the animals, the insects. We are dependent on all of it, we cannot survive without a healthy planet.

We are today, more than at any time in the history of the human race, our brothers and sisters keepers.

The Editor


Location: The Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Climate change: major impacts on water for farming

New FAO survey sums up current scientific understanding of impacts, highlights knowledge gaps and areas for attention


Rome - Climate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come, warns a new FAO report.

Climate Change, Water, and Food Security is a comprehensive survey of existing scientific knowledge on the anticipated consequences of climate change for water use in agriculture.

These include reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharges in the Mediterranean and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa -- regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and mountain glaciers for water will also be affected, while heavily populated river deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced water flows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels.

Additional impacts described in the report:

An acceleration of the world’s hydrological cycle is anticipated as rising temperatures increase the rate of evaporation from land and sea. Rainfall will increase in the tropics and higher latitudes, but decrease in already dry semi-arid to mid-arid latitudes and in the interior of large continents. A greater frequency in droughts and floods will need to be planned for but already, water scarce areas of the world are expected to become drier and hotter.

Even though estimates of groundwater recharge under climate change cannot be made with any certainty, the increasing frequency of drought can be expected to encourage further development of available groundwater to buffer the production risk for farmers.

And the loss of glaciers - which support around 40 percent of the world’s irrigation -- will eventually impact the amount of surface water available for agriculture in key producing basins

Increased temperatures will lengthen the growing season in northern temperate zones but will reduce the length almost everywhere else. Coupled with increased rates of evapotranspiration this will cause the yield potential and water productivity of crops to decline.

"Both the livelihoods of rural communities as well as the food security of city populations are at risk" said FAO Assistant Director General for Natural Resources, Alexander Mueller. "But the rural poor, who are the most vulnerable, are likely to be disproportionately affected". More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sustainable development must be as much blue as it is green

Seychelles' Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, has reminded a United Nations debate on the pathway to sustainable development that the world's oceans, coasts, and small island countries must be included in the concept of a green economy.


Speaking at the informal debate in the UN General Assembly on the challenges of the green economy held on June 2, Amb. Jumeau stressed that what the small island developing states (SIDS) described as a "blue economy" must be part and parcel of the concept, definition, and development of a climate- and environment-friendly green economy.

"This is something we in the small islands talk about a lot but do not hear about enough," Ambassador Jumeau said, “We cannot build a new eco-friendly and sustainable world economy without factoring in and caring for the oceans, which would require integrating the SIDS.”

He later explained that the push by the SIDS for the "blue" economy to be incorporated within the concept of the global green economy is essentially to ensure that the oceans and marine resources, and consequently the small islands as large ocean territories, are not forgotten or left behind. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When the Nile runs dry

A new scramble for Africa is under way. As global food prices rise and exporters reduce shipments of commodities, countries that rely on imported grain are panicking.


Affluent countries like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and India have descended on fertile plains across the African continent, acquiring huge tracts of land to produce wheat, rice and corn for consumption back home.

Some of these land acquisitions are enormous. South Korea, which imports 70 percent of its grain, has acquired 1.7 million acres in Sudan to grow wheat—an area twice the size of Rhode Island. In Ethiopia, a Saudi firm has leased 25,000 acres to grow rice, with the option of expanding this to 750,000 acres. And India has leased several hundred thousand acres there to grow corn, rice and other crops.

These land grabs shrink the food supply in famine-prone African nations and anger local farmers, who see their governments selling their ancestral lands to foreigners. They also pose a grave threat to Africa’s newest democracy: Egypt.

Egypt is a nation of bread eaters. Its citizens consume 18 million tons of wheat annually, more than half of which comes from abroad. (See data.) Egypt is now the world’s leading wheat importer, and subsidized bread—for which the government doles out approximately $2 billion per year—is seen as an entitlement by the 60 percent or so of Egyptian families who depend on it.

As Egypt tries to fashion a functioning democracy after President Hosni Mubarak’s departure, land grabs to the south are threatening its ability to put bread on the table because all of Egypt’s grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows north through Ethiopia and Sudan before reaching Egypt. (Since rainfall in Egypt is negligible to nonexistent, its agriculture is totally dependent on the Nile.)

Unfortunately for Egypt, two of the favorite targets for land acquisitions are Ethiopia and Sudan, which together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Today’s demands for water are such that there is little left of the river when it eventually empties into the Mediterranean.

The Nile Waters Agreement, which Egypt and Sudan signed in 1959, gave Egypt 75 percent of the river’s flow, 25 percent to Sudan and none to Ethiopia. This situation is changing abruptly as wealthy foreign governments and international agribusiness firms snatch up large swaths of arable land in the upper Basin. While these deals are typically described as land acquisitions, they are also, in effect, water acquisitions.

Now, when competing for Nile water, Cairo must deal with several governments and commercial interests that were not party to the 1959 agreement. Moreover, Ethiopia — never enamored of the agreement — has announced plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam on its branch of the Nile that would reduce the water flow to Egypt even more.

Because Egypt’s wheat yields are already among the world’s highest, it has little potential to raise its land productivity further. With its population of 81 million projected to reach 101 million by 2025, finding enough food and water is a daunting challenge. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself

CIUDAD OBREGĂ“N, Mexico — The dun wheat field spreading out at Ravi P. Singh’s feet offered a possible clue to human destiny. Baked by a desert sun and deliberately starved of water, the plants were parched and nearly dead.



Dr. Singh, a wheat breeder, grabbed seed heads that should have been plump with the staff of life. His practiced fingers found empty husks.

“You’re not going to feed the people with that,” he said.

But then, over in Plot 88, his eyes settled on a healthier plant, one that had managed to thrive in spite of the drought, producing plump kernels of wheat. “This is beautiful!” he shouted as wheat beards rustled in the wind.

Hope in a stalk of grain: It is a hope the world needs these days, for the great agricultural system that feeds the human race is in trouble.

The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries.

Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories — wheat, rice, corn and soybeans — has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007, with some grains more than doubling in cost.

Those price jumps, though felt only moderately in the West, have worsened hunger for tens of millions of poor people, destabilizing politics in scores of countries, from Mexico to Uzbekistan to Yemen. The Haitian government was ousted in 2008 amid food riots, and anger over high prices has played a role in the recent Arab uprisings. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Call for Papers: Water Grabbing? Focus on the (Re)appropriation of Finite Water Resources

In many river basins in the world, water resources have become the object of increasing competition between food production and other sectors.



The rush to acquire new lands as sources of alternative energy, food crops, and environmental services have led to the so called “land rush” or “land grabbing” that have made headlines and which contributed to skyrocketing global food prices in 2008.
By drawing on notions of ‘marginal’, ‘waste’ and ‘unproductive’ lands, powerful transnational and national actors have moved into large-scale agriculture to take advantage of potential windfall gains in sub-sectors such as biofuels and major commodities (sugarcane, rice, wheat and other cash crops).
New demands for land have also arisen due to climate change mitigation measures in the form of carbon forestry (REDD and tree planting for carbon sequestration). Land acquisition has ranged from buying or leasing land that may or may not be cultivated and/or occupied, and sometimes merely by organising smallholder production and controlling output markets. The process is part of a global re-alignment of political economic relations – the rise of new political and economic power centres through diverse trajectories of neoliberalisation.

Despite headline attention to ‘land grabbing’ the implications for existing surface and groundwater water resources have so far not been adequately examined. There are indications that in many cases ‘land grabbing’ is motivated by the desire to capture water resources. This is because in many cases, the land coveted or acquired by investors is not ‘marginal’ but of prime quality and associated with irrigation facilities or the potential for sourcing freshwater from river systems or aquifers (e.g., in arid areas land is plentiful and agricultural expansion will not create conflict until water is used). This raises the crucial question of whether this water is truly available or will be reallocated from existing users. Hydrologic complexity, in particular surface water/groundwater interactions and inter-annual variability, often obscures how reallocation takes place and what are the associated third party impacts on the environment or other social groups.

Acquisition of land and water resources, therefore, may or may not be related to one another, and each of them may amount to resource “grabbing” or not, depending on whether local people have been deprived from these same resources. (Re)appropriation may be effectuated through various means, ranging from violent expulsion to different types of compensations, to legal purchase, “legality” referring to what dominant discourses and the state consider as acceptable and lawful. There is obviously a fine line, and often a fuzzy overlap, between what some would consider as “resource grabbing” and others as lawful reallocation, be it organised or orchestrated by the state or through market mechanisms.
More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts repor

Some areas in the tropics face famine because of failing food production, an international research group says.



The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) predicts large parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be worst affected.

Its report points out that hundreds of millions of people in these regions are already experiencing a food crisis.

"We are starting to see much more clearly where the effects of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty," said Patti Kristjanson, an agricultural economist with the CCAFS initiative that produced the report.

A leading climatologist told BBC News that agriculturalists had been slow to use global climate models to pinpoint regions most affected by rising temperatures.

This report is the first foray into the field by the CCAFS initiative. To assess how climate change will affect the world's ability to feed itself, CCAFS set about finding hotspots of climate change and food insecurity.

Focusing their search on the tropics, the researchers identified regions where populations are chronically malnourished and highly dependent on local food supplies.

Then, basing their analysis on the climate data amassed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team predicted which of these food-insecure regions are likely to experience the greatest shifts in temperature and precipitation over the next 40 years.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 3, 2011

Event: 2nd World Congress on Cities and Adaption to Climate Change

The Resilient Cities 2011 congress is being held in Bonn, Germany 3 - 5 June.


The Resilient Cities 2011 official website is: resilient-cities.org/bonn2011
The Resilient Cities 2011 congress will be documented on their website. Here you can find all resources and information (photos, speeches, press releases) available for download*. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thirsty Chinese reroute nature

A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south.


The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of mega-cities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took thousands of years to fill.

Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least 23 billion cubic meters, or 6 trillion gallons, of water each year hundreds of kilometers from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the North China plain and its 440 million people.

The engineering feat, called the South-North Water Diversion Project, is China’s most ambitious attempt to subjugate nature. It would be like channeling water from the Mississippi River to meet the drinking needs of Boston, New York and Washington. Its $62 billion price tag is twice that of the Three Gorges Dam. And not unlike that project, which Chinese officials last month admitted had ‘‘urgent problems,’’ the water diversion plan is increasingly mired in concerns about its cost, its environmental impact and the sacrifices poor people in the provinces are told to make for those in richer cities.

Three artificial channels from the Yangtze would transport precious water from the south, which itself is increasingly afflicted by droughts: The region is now suffering its worst one in 50 years. The project’s human cost is staggering — along the middle route, which starts in Hubei Province at a gigantic reservoir and snakes 1,300 kilometers, or 800 miles, to Beijing, about 350,000 villagers are being relocated to make way for the canal. Many are being resettled far from their homes and given low-grade farmland. In Hubei, thousands of people have been moved to the grounds of a former prison. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Libya: Water Emerges as a Hidden Weapon

CAIRO, May 27, 2011 (IPS) - Libya’s enormous aquatic reserves could potentially become a new weapon of choice if government forces opt to starve coastal cities that heavily rely on free flowing freshwater.



With only five percent of the country getting at least 100 millimetres of rainfall per year, Libya is one of the driest countries in the world.

Historically, coastal aquifers or desalination plants located in Tripoli were of poor quality due to contamination with salt water, resulting in undrinkable water in many cities including Benghazi.

Oil exploration in the southern Libyan desert in the mid-1950s revealed vast quantities of fresh, clean groundwater - this could meet growing national demand and development goals.

Scientists estimate that nearly 40,000 years ago when the North African climate was temperate, rainwater in Libya seeped underground forming reservoirs of freshwater.

In 1983, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi initiated a huge civil water works project known as the Great Man-Made River (GMMR) - a massive irrigation project that drew upon the underground basin reserves of the Kufra, Sirte, Morzuk, Hamada and the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer - to deliver more than five million cubic metres of water per day to cities along Libya’s coastal belt.

"The Colonel’s GMMR project was discounted when first unveiled as an uneconomic flight of fancy and a wasteful exploitation of un-renewable freshwater reserves," Middle East-based journalist Iason Athanasiadis told IPS. "But subsequently it was hailed as a masterful work of engineering, tapping into underground aquifers so vast that they could keep the 2007 rate of dispersal going for the next 1,000 years." More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Rain for the Sahara

The nomads of Niger – the poorest country in the world -- have thrived in the desert for over a thousand years but today live a marginal existence.



These unique cultures are threatened by drought and climate change. The nomads’ fertile pastureland has been taken for farming; they are forced to live in the ever more arid desert regions. In a region where little aid is available, Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) is a consistent presence. Our staff is all local people, our programs are the result of community brainstorming sessions – we are revitalizing communities assailed by poverty. They are ready to attain new skills, improve their lives. We all have much to learn, much to share – please join us.

RAIN’s mission is to work with nomadic peoples of West Africa to improve their lives through education, water security, agriculture, and income-producing activities. These locally rooted programs promote literacy and empowerment while sustaining nomadic traditions throughout the Sahel and Sahara. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands