Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Water Riots in Yemen

These first three photos are my own. They are not to be used in any way that profits the person using them. If you would like to use one of these, please leave a note in the comment section letting me know. Thanks.

This is where I was this afternoon - taking photos of the water feature two blocks away at the skytrain station nearest me. It was wonderfully cool under the shade tree; and, water always has the ability to soothe my soul.

The use of water in this way; while beautiful, restful and desirable was NOT the best use of this precious resource; and, I thought about those who don't even have enough clean water to drink.

I came home and started looking for a place to start my blog. I read about the water riots in Yemen and just had to share what will become a worldwide catastrophe if climate warning does not stop soon.

Photo: Anna Pearson via flickr

The focus keeps getting placed when discussing the impact of global climate change on world water supplies: Oxfam highlights the effect of water shortages and declining crop yields in Nepal; IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri comments on how thirsty Africa could become; and, Reuters writes from Yemen on a growing population depleting water sources. The article is tough to read - these people are enduring unimaginable hardships.

Oxfam characterizes the situation in Nepal with the name of their new report - "Even the Himalayas Have Stopped Smiling". in their new report [PDF]. Already changing weather patterns are causing decreasing crop yields, higher temperatures and water shortages.

The drought last winter left more than 3.4 million people requiring food assistance -- with 31% of its population living below the poverty line.

Oxfam claims the solution for this nation which is responsible for a mere 0.025% of global carbon emissions is to get communities more engaged in reducing their own vulnerabilities to climate change. They also say getting Nepal's national government to prioritize climate change mitigation and adaptation at a national level is a vital component of recovery. Financially, they will be a generous portion of aid from the wealthy nations of the world.

Photo: Matt Rudge via flickr

The Economic Times quotes Dr Rajendra Pachauri as saying that 25% of Africans will face water shortages due to climate change. By 2020, somewhere between 75-250 million people will be suffering from water stress, the IPCC chairman added.

Keep in mind, that the upper range of the figure is the equivalent of about two-thirds of what the US population is likely to be by the same time period.

Aden, Yemen; Photo: Raphael Faveau

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alluded to civil unrest on a scale which has never been seen before. There are some skeptics out there; but, if you are in Yemen, this to are something over the horizon. If you're in Yemen they are right on top of you.

According to a recent Reuters report, in Aden one person was shot dead and three wounded in riots over water shortages August 24, 2009. Two of those wounded were police officers.

In the capital, Sanaa, only 80 of the the city's 180 wells are operational due to the fast falling water table -- in some places residents only get city water once every nine days; and, some not at all.

The per capita availability of water in Yemen is now under 100 cubic meters a year; the UNDP considers the "water poverty line" to be 1,000 cubic meters per year.

That's just the tip of that story though: Rural to urban migration, unsustainable irrigation practices and a general lack of government authority only causes the problem to snowball.

Here's a video made to encourage Yemenites to conserve water. It's really quite cute.

An eye-opening video on the water shortage in Egypt.

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