Report warns of global conflict over water

March 23, 2012 at 1:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- Water scarcity could destabilize countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia over the next decade, U.S. intelligence experts say.

Economies could be disrupted and regional conflicts worsened as globally rising populations face scarcities in water supplies created by climate change and poor management policies, a report prepared for the U.S. State Department said.

"During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems -- shortages, poor water quality, or floods -- that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure, and increase regional tensions," the report said.

While intelligence sources consider wars over water to be unlikely, they said some countries could use water for political and economic advantage over neighbors, The New York Times reported Friday.

Upstream countries will make increased use dams and other projects "to obtain regional influence or preserve their water interests" over weaker countries downstream, the report warned.

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