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  • Will US aid change?

    In the aftermath of the World Humanitarian Summit, the world’s largest humanitarian donor gives a frank assessment of what’s next.Highlights: USAID will not commit to specific targets for cash programmingUSAID cannot yet commit to channelling one quar…

  • Activities of Secretary-General in Qatar, 20-22 May

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew on Friday, 20 May, from New York to Doha, Qatar, to participate in the sixteenth Doha Forum.Upon arrival in Doha on Saturday, 21 May, the Secretary-General met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalif…

  • News in Brief 26 May 2016 (PM)

    Humanitarians ready to assist civilians fleeing Iraqi cityHumanitarian agencies are doing “everything” they can to assist people fleeing the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where at least 50,000 civilians are believed to be trapped.That’s according to the UN H…

  • Harb welcomes Yemeni Ambassador, Jad Association

    Telecommunications minister Boutros Harb welcomed Monday before noon at his ministry office the Yemeni Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Ahmad Al-Daylami. Discussions reportedly tackled political developments in Yemen as well as the situation in Lebanon and th…

  • YEMEN FM: WE WILL GIVE TALKS ‘LAST CHANCE’

    Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Mikhlafi who is leading the government negotiating team announced Saturday that he received regional and international guarantees to comply with the six points mentioned by the government delegation in Kuwait consulta…

  • 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

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