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  • Freshwater vulnerability threatens developing nations’ stability

    Many nations and regions already facing uncertain political futures must contend with a growing threat to stabilization: freshwater vulnerability. An analysis of 119 low-income countries finds common challenges that could inform broad solutions.

    Many nations and regions already facing uncertain political futures must contend with a growing threat to stabilization: freshwater vulnerability.

    The finding comes from a new study co-authored by researchers in Stanford’s Global Freshwater Initiative that weighed a variety of contributing factors, such as regulatory enforcement, corruption, transboundary competition, and water transported “virtually” in agricultural products, as well as traditional constraints like scarcity and infrastructure. Stanford U reports that among its striking findings:

    Institutional issues are the most common factors generating water supply vulnerability, affecting nearly 40 percent of the 119 low-income nations studied. The most prevalent issue was corruption, which can paralyze water development projects and regulation.

    Patterns of vulnerability are often similar in countries that would otherwise seem to have little in common.

    A lack of precipitation does not necessarily equate with water supply vulnerability.

    By the study’s measures, the world’s most water-vulnerable countries are Jordan, Yemen, and Djibouti. The three countries have much in common, including low rainfall, limited surface water storage, excessive groundwater mining, high dependence on waters shared by neighboring countries, and the importation of most food calories.

    In light of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, the report provides a roadmap for how influential countries such as the United States could help the region’s vulnerable nations steer clear of destabilizing water crises, said co-author Steven Gorelick, the Cyrus Fisher Tolman Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

    “Jordan is a peaceful and generous country that has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees,” Gorelick said. “The U.S. has an opportunity to help Jordan deal with the consequent stress of inadequate water supply, which will improve its political stability, so it’s really in our best interest to do so.”

    Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are over-pumping groundwater. In Jordan, where people depend on groundwater for 80 percent of their freshwater, levels are dropping three feet each year and will likely be depleted by 30 to 40 percent within the next fifteen years. Refugee migrations from conflict-torn lands and global warming-related extreme weather will likely worsen the situation. A related Global Freshwater Initiative study finds that 45 percent of major cities solely dependent on surface water will be unable to simultaneously meet human, environmental and agricultural water demands by 2040.

    The Global Freshwater Initiative is coordinating the Jordan Water Project, an international, interdisciplinary research effort aimed at developing new approaches for analyzing strategies to enhance the sustainability of freshwater resources in Jordan and, ultimately, arid regions throughout the world. The project, headed by Gorelick, is focused on developing a comprehensive national hydro-economic model to evaluate new supply options and demand strategies.

    Water vulnerability is a crucial issue as countries attempt to slake the thirst of growing populations. In the past fifty years, the amount of water withdrawn for human use has tripled. Access to water is a national security matter, crucial to agriculture, industry and ecosystems.

    “We have often incorrectly assumed that the lessons of water challenges in one country are not transferable to others,” said study co-author Barton “Buzz” Thompson, the Robert E. Paradise Professor in Natural Resources Law and the Perry L. McCarty Co-director of the Stanford Woods Institute.

    To the contrary, the study suggests a range of commonalities that decision-makers and aid agencies would do well to consider. For example, Vietnam, Guatemala, and Sri Lanka were found to share vulnerability factors such as high population densities, high numbers of species needing protection, low governmental transparency and a lack of water regulation enforcement mechanisms. Many countries of North Africa and South Asia share struggles with water quality threatened by poor sanitation, low volumes of renewable freshwater and high dependency on neighboring countries for freshwater.

    Source: Homeland Security News Wire

  • Death of Luke Somers

    The murder of Luke Somers by his captors during a rescue operation is a reminder of the brutality of the terrorists of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). They have again demonstrated their cruelty and their disdain for human life, freedom, and the Yemeni people whom they terrorize daily.

    Earlier this week, AQAP released a video announcing that Luke would be murdered within 72 hours. Along with other information, there was a compelling indication that Luke’s life was in immediate danger, and so we recommended that the President authorize an attempt to rescue Luke. Tragically, Luke and a foreign national hostage were killed by their captors during the course of that operation.

    Even in our grief, we couldn’t be more proud of the brave men and women of the U.S. military who twice risked their lives in operations to try and bring Luke home safely. We also appreciate the efforts of the dedicated intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic professionals who supported these operations, and we are particularly grateful to the Yemeni government, under the leadership of President Hadi, for their critical and supportive role in trying to liberate this young American from unfathomable captivity, and for their enduring partnership in combating the scourge of AQAP.

    AQAP knows how to hate, they know how to murder, and now they have robbed a family of an idealistic young photojournalist who went to Yemen to practice his calling and document the lives of ordinary Yemenis. As a parent, I know there are no words that can assuage the loss that Luke’s family has suffered, or the anguish of the family of the second hostage who was killed. There’s no way to wipe away their pain. But Teresa and I both pray that they can find some small solace in knowing that the United States government and all of our people grieve with them, and that there were brave Americans in uniform willing to lay down their own lives so that they had a chance to live. We also pray for the families of all the innocents who are held against their will, whose safe return we work towards every day.

  • YEMENI VICE PRESIDENT PRAISES SAUDI SUPPORT FOR HIS COUNTRY

    ADEN, Yemen, Yemeni Vice President and Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah, today hailed the great support exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Coalition countries, to restore legitimacy in Yemen.The Yemeni Vice President expressed Yemen’s regret an…

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