Water covers 75% of the earth’s surface. Most of it contains high concentrations of salt and is unusable to developing countries for consumption or irrigation purposes because desalination is too expensive. Consequently, when a water source like a major river originates in one country and flows into another, the shared water source could become an issue of national security. (For example, if one country dams or diverts a shared river for irrigation purposes, it could reduce the amount of water flowing downstream to the second country).
For this week’s discussion, think of the enduring disputes taking place between Jordan and Israel (Jordan controls the headwaters of the Jordan River as it flows into Israel); Turkey and Iraq (Turkey controls the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers before they enter Iraq); and between Ethiopia and Sudan and Egypt (Ethiopia controls the flow of the Nile River before it enters Sudan and Egypt). What concerns do these downriver countries (Israel, Iraq, and Egypt/Sudan) have over freshwater access?