In countries where water-related security risks are pressing, the Water, Peace and Security partnership works with national and local stakeholders to create safe spaces that can sustain dialogue, bridge gaps in communication and promote new ways of collaboration to prevent, mitigate or adapt to these emerging risks.

Water, Peace and Security analysis with Malian experts during WPS training.
Water, Peace and Security analysis with Malian experts during WPS training (2019).

Competition over scarce water resources is on the rise in many countries. Increasing water scarcity has direct and indirect impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, including their food security and income, as well as the ecosystems that they rely on. With diminishing prospects for improved living conditions, grievances around water scarcity and competing claims can result in conflict and violence over water resources. Trust-building, collaboration and dialogue are key to preventing and addressing emerging social disruption and security issues.

To foster peace and collaboration and reduce the risk of water-related conflict, it is important that the interests and vulnerabilities of all key stakeholders—i.e. all those having influence on a situation and those affected by a situation—be heard and taken into consideration. This requires dialogue and the participation of the relevant and representative stakeholders (including women, ethnic and religious minorities, etc.). The Water, Peace and Security partnership supports stakeholders directly involved and affected by water-related conflict, and other actors with influence, in exploring new approaches for collaboration and solution-seeking to the often complex issues underlying the water-related conflicts. By bringing together stakeholders from different sectors, we help shape agreements and conflict-sensitive interventions that can sustain peace.

We believe strongly that the information and understanding that the partnership generates on water-related security risks can be used to foster collaboration and to facilitate dialogue processes and water-related collaboration. We therefore ensure that the dialogue processes we support include a safe space to jointly reflect on the information and data available on issues like water scarcity and human security in order to enable a mutual understanding on the key issues.

The Water, Peace and Security partnership can act as a (co-)facilitator, advisor or supporter in these dialogue processes, but we only do so in collaboration with and at the request of others, as the ownership of a conflict, the dialogue process and proposed solutions rest with the national and local stakeholders themselves.