›October 23, 2014 // By ECSP Staff
Mass displacement has become a significant feature of recent conflicts, as the number of people forced to flee their homes has passed 50 million worldwide, a level not seen since World War II. This is one of the reasons why the UN Security Council will focus on women refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) during its annual open debate on women, peace, and security on October 28, according to Elizabeth Cafferty, senior advocacy officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) celebrated 150 years of their mission to “protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence.” Though this mission hasn’t changed in the past century-and-a-half, the nature of conflict and crisis response has. [Video Below]
With almost 800 million people currently lacking access to clean water and two-thirds of the world’s population projected to face conditions of severe water stress by 2025, disputes over water are a growing global concern. But while dwindling water supplies sharpen focus on conflict, long-term peacebuilding opportunities are often overlooked. [Video Below]
At last month’s launch of the USAID Water and Conflict Toolkit at the Wilson Center, Gidon Bromberg explained that the toolkit is about much more than just conflict. “It’s put very much in forefront the possibilities of peacebuilding,” he says in this week’s podcast. “Water is an opportunity in areas where there aren’t many opportunities.”
In 2008 and 2010, the price of many basic food stuffs soared, sparking a series of riots and food crises around the world. People in the poorest countries – those living with the smallest margins – were most affected, while the economies of developed nations were able to absorb the price changes. According to Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index, how climate change will impact different countries depends not only on their vulnerability to physical changes, but also their ability to absorb these impacts. [Video Below]
›January 7, 2014 // By Laurie Mazur
Physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a spouse or partner is a major factor in maternal and reproductive health, said Jay Silverman at the Wilson Center last month.
Silverman, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, cited a 15-country study of both developed and developing countries that found 25 to 75 percent of women have suffered from intimate partner violence at least once. And the effects are very significant, both in terms of the health of mothers and their children. [Video Below]
›“Cooperation over water is not a privilege, it’s a necessity,” said Gidon Bromberg, co-director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, in a TEDx talk at Yale. He sees the shortage of water in Jordan, Israel, and Palestine as an opportunity to bring these contentious communities together – even more so during this period of upheaval in the region.
Water woes have long contributed to regional tensions, said Bromberg. Water rights between Israel and Palestine were supposed to be settled during the Oslo accords in 1993, but negotiations were unsuccessful and water discussions were consequently left unfinished. The lack of formal negotiations caused each side to seize whatever resources they could Although Jordan was not part of the negotiations, it does share water resources with Israel and the West Bank and thus has been impacted by the lack of formal allocation processes. Both Jordan and Israel have diverted flow of the Jordan River into dams and irrigation projects. As a result, the Jordan River has lost 98 percent of its historic flow and the Dead Sea has lost one-third of its surface area.
Today, Israel has restricted Palestinian water use such that Palestinians have access to water only once a week in winter and once every three weeks in the summer, leading them to store water in containers on their roofs, Bromberg said. Though mismanagement is as much to blame as conflict, he notes, Palestinians chafe under the limitations.
Yet Friends of the Earth Middle East has used this difficult situation to educate the public, propose reforms, and build trust between Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli communities. Bromberg highlighted “fear of a small but vocal minority on both sides” as a key factor in preventing dialogue between the communities, but insists that water can bring people together. Neighboring communities have to work together, he said, “not because they’re best friends,” but to improve their own water situations.
Friends of the Earth provides that opportunity with their Good Water Neighbors project and hopes the trust built between communities extends beyond water issues as well. Since communities have strong motives to solve these problems, they work together more effectively than high-level politicians who may not be as apt to collaborate.
A positive update on the state of the Jordan River given in an interview with ECSP in October suggests that Bromberg may be on to something.
Sources: Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth.
Video Credit: TEDx.
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