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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  April 12, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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roof lights candles and passes them to worshipers. where jesus christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. a reminder, you can always keep up to date on our website just bad for your health, it's a security risk, race raising the chances for conflict, instability. military is adding the concern about water insecurity and climate change for strategies in understanding conflict. the coming water wars "inside story". mousse
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[ ♪ music ♪ ] welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. in recent years more and more armed forces and strategists are thinking about what happens when aqua fers dry up or rains are unreliable, does it make a place more vulnerable to conflict, regional, international or ethnically based. in some places the ability of a place to support a nation is diminished by the water supply. think sudan and other areas. there were ongoing conflict, but when farmers found it impossible to farm, when herdsman had to range further from home to water cattle it ratcheted up tensions there and fanned them into a full-blown armed conflict. the vulnerability of the
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maldives - a string of islands in the indian ocean threatened with sea level rides, may show up in the chronic instability there. it's tough to make a good life for millions of bangladeshis, as they cling to a smaller territory that's not under threat of floods. all this month on al jazeera america we are doing special programs and reports called "fragile planet." tonight a look at the threats of water insecurity, not just to commerce and health, but for a country being a safe and secure place. let's start with robert stanford from the united states institute for water, environment and health. welcome to "inside story". >> thank you, ray is there a growing conviction in various think tanks, department of defense or war that we have to think about way? >> much research has been done
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about the nature and extent of conflict over water globally in the last 5,000 years. what researchers found generally is that in the past conflict over water has been reduced largely as a result of better treaties, better diplomacy and cooperation. however, a number of things are undermining that security. now, certainly population growth, secondly the increased need for agricultural production, and the fact that the composition of the atmosphere is changing, making weather patterns and climatic circumstances unpredictable, affecting water security widely are there places we see early warning signs of kind of things projected for later in the century? >> i think we see it far more widely than anyone expected. certainly the cases in the introduction are cases where we
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have to examine the impact of water scarcity, peace in the region and others. what we find is water scarcity is occurring in the developed world, and changes to the hydrologic pattern is the change to how people are thinking about water security. it used to be water security was having enough water for the people serving in their jurisdiction and their needs. now we have to help the water security function, and also those up stream and downstream of us, we have to do that with changing hydrological conditions where nothing in the past is as predictable as it was then, and we see the future is far more predictable than any of us expected. >> you hear the headline and you think is one country going to invade or attack another. will one region invade or attack another because there are water
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problems. i wonder if that's the rite question. places that are under pressure, instead of bending, they break when suddenly there's not enough waters for the necessities of daily life. >> what you might find as a result of this is what we call d development - advancements that have occurred since world war two may be reversed by water scarcity, and by its dim et rick opposite, by recurring flooding event. jurisdictions may be intact, they may be indebted, and unstable. what you might expect is migrations of millions of people out of areas of insecurity to other places where water can continue to be the foundation of agriculture industry and political stability. >> migrations of millions of people. think about what you just said.
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in a world before we drew lines with the planet and created nation states, people moved from place to place in search of water. it's hard to imagine picking up in one place and moving to another because the cycle of rain fall, or the supply of water from bodies of water, like rivers and lakes has changed. >> well, we have seen this regionally in the past, over several years, where regional impacts caused by land use changes and overirrigation may have changed. regional climate exhausted soils and causing nations to collapse. one of the problems is there's no place for people to go. the world is occupied. population is such that there's no room, oftentimes in places where water is secure. what you will likely see is movement away from coastal regions where sea level is an increasing problem.
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you'll see people moving inland, uphill towards cooler temperatures and fresh water reliance and reliability. they are the trance its we can see in the future. hydrologic circumstances, more variable and extreme. >> i'm wondering if the earth can afford, through action or individual national action, to cope with this, or is this kind of a bigger problem than we know how to fix? >> well, it's certainly going to challenge the way we organise ourselves globally. we are seeing this. the world health organisation is showing this an advancement widely in the developed world. what we see here is the fact that there's probably enough water op earth for all of us, but it's not where we want or need it.
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what we have is not an easy crisis to address. it's a combination or some total of thousands of problems that need to be managed differently. >> is part of the problem not really a water shortage, but a shortage of portable pure water, there's not as much fresh water as we need, even as the oceans are rising all around the world? >> i think what it is, it's less a problem of totalable water, but in regions like the middle east and north africa, it's a problem. the principal problem is not so much the availability of water, as the success in water governance, managing water in a way that it can be available where it's needed, where we avoid contamination, produce enough food and have enough water for the ecosystems and the future.
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the biggest obstacle is the way we think about how we manage water, jurisdictional fragmentation falling into play when we think about managing the river basin system, and these have to change if we are to address the true sustainability that water prepares globally. >> i'm glad you brought that up. in some areas like west africa, taking water management out of government hands, privatizing it, so water people used to get is natural course in the daily lives. they are paying for it, but some of them happen to be some of the poorest people on the planet. >> certainly there are problems, as you described, and what i'm talking about foremostly and firstly is how we are thinking about water. how it comes to us, how we apportion the waters and diplomatically arrange to deal with conflict, how we deal with shortages and flooding.
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how we do that collectively when there might be multiple numbers along the same river. the failure to do that leads to sometimes unjust and unfair allocation of water, where the poorest are asked to pay the most for any type of water security. we see it on a number of lexes, but it's a level of governance that is critical. we have to see it as a true sustainability issue. water management is a central element of it, and a central element, too, of understanding and responding to climate change effects. >> bob stanford is from the united nations university institute for water, environment and health, and joined us from the studios of the c.b.c. good to talk to you sir. >> thank you very much the desire for a peaceful life does not create the water you need. as weather patterns change, people can't pick up and leave for literally greener pastures.
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water scarcity in, say, africa - it doesn't have an impact on national security here. you'll be surprised to hear that argument when our next guest makes it. it's "inside story". >> al jazeera america brings you a first hand look at the environmental issues, and new understanding of our changing world. >> it's the very beginning >> this was a storm of the decade >>...hurricane... >> we can save species... >> our special month long focus, fragile planet
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[ ♪ music ♪ ] welcome back to "inside story", on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. we are looking at water, and the threats to peace and security posed by water impurity. the latest u.n. report concludes that some 3 billion people, more than a third of humanity in 48 countries will face water shortages in the next 10 years.
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some country's existence will be threatened by chronic water shortage. in 15 years, the human race will be short of the fresh-water needed for daily life. you may shake your head knowingly in the west and south-west where unimaginable draught may make the threat seem real, but there aren't water riots in phoenix or people that can't cook food, or families hitting the road in fresno searching for the water. where is the fronted edge of the impact. is there anything to be done? >> we are joined from water aid, by serena, and david nickal, director of the environmental security programme at the stimson center. we were talking about bob in big country size terms. let's get small. take us to a small town or farming village, and talk about
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what makes daily life hard when there's water insecurity? >> thank you so much. about a billion people in the world don't have access to water and are living an insecure life. at a community or village level, in the extreme, that means communities that don't with have the water to wash and bury the dead. a mother that lost not one, but multiple children to preventible causes such as diarrhoea or dysentery because of a lack of safe water and sanitation. heartbreaking choices the family makes, which child will collect water, which child will go school. the effects of water scarcity and impurity is severe in many areas we work.
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>> does it seem plausible that that time of scenario gathers at a macro level to create an insecure nation. >> it's plausible. it's important to raise the alarm about water insecurity, and what a big risk this is for the global community. at the same time it's important to counterbalance that by saying people have always cooperated around water. water never belonged to one nation or one community, it flows through. it's a shared resource. it's been shared, and people have collaborated and cooperated over millenia for this resource. we'll have to do that. we'll have to learn better, smarter ways of managing this precious resource, water management, quality, reuse. it will be increasingly important, and it will be important not only for the developing countries and the poorest of communities where people have been living with water insecurity, but it will be increasingly important for
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developed countries you were mentioning earlier. >> there has been a little push back. when defense establishments identifying it counterintuitive like endemics or public health crisis or water insecurity as a national security issue, it wrangles the defense establishment. can you make a case for that, that in the 21st century, we have to stop thinking about throwing weights and army sizes and the old ways of thinking about defense and security, that water is a place where it's at? >> absolutely. our perception of what security means is broadening, as the world globalized. the water use at home, and water use abroad is connected to food security at home and abroad. 70% of the water used around the world goes to produce food, and we have food markets. so countries like those we saw transformed by the arab spring
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are among the largest importers of food, and their food security was impacted not only by their own water use, but climate change effects, affecting meteorological patterns. exporting countries thousands of miles away in russia, argentina, canada, australia. >> one of the reasons why they often resist securitization of new issues, new theme attics is they are seen as kinetic, first of all, to apply force in the nation's interest in order to achieve some goals abroad. even within the military they, as well, are seeing wider views, wider perspectives on what the national security means and what the national security of our mean. >> i read an analysis that identified syria as a place where if you need an example,
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there's an example. >> all right. it's an interesting case. syria has been badly led by serial authoritarian cruel regimes that killed thousands of civilians, is that not the problem. how am i supposed to believe water is at the heart of this? governance is an issue. governance and water is interrelated. prior to the arab spring, we heard about the plausible impacts of changes in food prices on countries in the arab spring. we have seen the demonstrations where people waved loafs of bread. before the arab spring, many populations in egypt, tunisia - they pointed to dissatisfaction with government water programs. sanitation, the fact that they did not have reliable, regular access to safe water resources they saw as being an example of
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the failure of government. that was how the authoritarian, the incompetent, the insufficient government registered to them, and that made water provision one of their grievances serena, you are in knapp alley -- napoli, there was a long running war and civil insurgency in that country. is that fire fed by people's impression about things like sanitation and water security? >> well, certainly by people's perception of their wellbeing and prospects for a better life. and i think that water is at the heart of that. without water and sanitation and basic hygiene, we can't meet the other goals for life. we don't have progress and education or hunger and nutrition. water is so interconnected with all the other goals that people
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have for themselves or children. that the nation has. the issue of water is foundational. it runs across all of our hopes and aspirations for the future. >> david, i'll ask you the same question i asked bob son ford. -- sam ford. we don't have a lot of time. but can we afford to fix this. the world is so burdened at the moment. going after water seems too big an assignment. >> but the payoff is tremendous. there are opportunities to increase our efficiency, the ways that we use water through policies, institutes, governance. as i said before, most of the water we use around the world produces the food that we eat. only about 20% of the farmland around the world is irrigated. it's that irrigated farm land where water is used more efficiently that produces 40% of our food.
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if we expand irrigation, we could produce more food with less water. even here in the united states, where we are an agricultural powerhouse, according to the u.s. department of agriculture, half the farm land in the united states uses the most efficient modern techniques. there's scope for improvement and cooperation providing benefits for all users. >> thank you both for joining us on "inside story". granted the kind of disastrous effects we have been talking about on the programme seem extremely unlikely in the united states. that doesn't mean there aren't severe threats to lively hoot and forced changes to every day life coming. california's bounty, farms churning out a big share of fruit and vegetables have been facing month after month of shortage. the government's instituted restrictions he probably hoped to avoid early in the drought. what it means for california, all of us, still ahead on "inside story".
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we are back with more "inside story" from al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez.
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we have spent a lot of time on this edition of the programme talking about far away places, suffering serious water problems. the problems are not all far away. the largest richest state, california, where a lot of the produce is grown, is suffering severe water shortages. water deficits so severe that week after week of intense soaking rain would not come close to making up the deficit. "al jazeera america"s jennifer london reports on the drought and joins us now. >> hi, it's nice to be here. >> tell us what you see out there. not only in farm land, but the places people live. >> as you mentioned we have been covering the drought for over a year, and have done stories op how it's impacting farmers and city dwellers, and have gone out to the rural communities in the state's central valley, and the best way to sum up how the drought is impact them, if you
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look at east porterville in the central valley, population over 7,000 - more than half of the residents have no running water. no running water to their homes. many of those residents - hundreds - have been without the running water for months, some for a year. i think one way you could look at it is if you believe that life is water, it's safe to say the small town of east porterville is dying. >> will everyone who lives there have to go move somewhere else? >> well, that's not - it's interesting you say that because some of the city officials we spoke to in nearby communities say, yes, they don't have running water. they can move. that is not viable. all the homes in east porterville is not hooked up to water. they are uncorp rated. they rely on wells, and they have gone dry because of the drought.
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it's happened before, where one home's well might go dry, another - but never before has it happened to hundreds of wells, and now thousands of wells. the county of tulori, the county it's in stepped in - we reported on this in september - the county stepped in issuing bottled water deliveries to people's homes, setting up tanks in the front yard that the city and county have been filling once to twice a week to get water to these people. we have been to porterville five different times, and what we see there is something that i experienced when i travelled internationally to places like africa or south-east asia, where you see families bathing their children in buckets. people don't have water to wash dishes. they don't have water to flush toilets. even the bottled water that is delivered, and the tanks in the front yards - they have to ration, because it's not enough
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for them to live on. >> you know, the lyrics to the old song goes "it never rains in southern california." if we move into a period where for much of the year it will rain, will california have to change what it grows and how it grows it? they say that almonds take up a huge percentage of all the water in california. will they have to just stop growing them? >> well california is the nation's breadbasket. much of the produce and fruits and vegetables that are consumed in the u.s. and around the world are grown in california's central valley. agriculture uses about 80% of the total water usage for one year. almond is one of the big - almond crops use a lot of water, it's one of the biggest water consumers when you talk about large farms and big ag. there's a lot of smaller farms
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as well that cater to the farmer's market and do the farm to table. but what is happening with the farms is they have already seen, for the past few years, huge reductions in the amount of water that the state allocates to the farms for irrigation. some farms have received no allocation over the last few years, others saw cutbacks, and they were having to buy water. it is at least three times as expensive, and the smaller farms rely on groundwater, that is not replenished because like you said, it never rains in southern california - as it turns out it never rains in california at all, it seems. the farmers have to start rethinking how to do business and what we can grow. >> a remarkable ongoing story, thank you, jennifer. >> thanks, ray. >> and thanks for joining us for "inside story". follow us on twitter and facebook, and watch us next time. i'm ray suarez.
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