Water Is A Matter Of National Security.

January 25, 2010

In 1950, there were 2.5 billion people in the world. Today, there are nearly 7 billion, but the quantity of water available for human use is finite. Currently, half of the world's major rivers are seriously depleted and polluted, threatening the security, health and livelihood of people. In sub-Saharan Africa, more people die from water-related infections than from wars, conflicts, and HIV/AIDS combined.

The security risks deriving from finite water resources and population growth manifests in reduced state capacity, social conflicts, civil violence and even international conflicts. The perennial conflict between farmers and herdsmen over grazing lands are early manifestations of this phenomenon. Paradoxically, excess water, especially through flooding also threatens life and property. Economists have estimated the cost of flooding in Nigeria at N1.2 trillion in the last few years.

The foregoing dictates that water should be regarded as a top national security issue and this is why we call on the government to take steps to manage our water resources from a security perspective. The government must urgently develop a security plan to manage our water resources; grow the capacity to reverse the effects of land degradation, water-sheds and water-courses; appreciate the dynamics of international "hydro-politics" and map out strategies on conflict areas in domestic and international waters. The government must also create an action-plan against flooding and strengthen institutional capacity to mitigate river and lake pollution.

Across the world, water is being included in the agendas of the highest authorities responsible for national security. We must embrace similar policies before water ÔÇô which is the source of life- becomes a source of death and destruction


The StandPoint is the consensual position of the NVS editorial board.