WPS GLOBAL EARLY WARNING TOOL August 2022 QUARTERLY ANALYSIS
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PLACES TO WATCH FOR VIOLENT CONFLICT
These are selected areas where the model predicts at least 10 fatalities in the next 12 months in a given second subnational administrative unit.
- Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia: Drought continued into the fourth consecutive growing season and compounded by rising food prices, led to large-scale food insecurity, which is predicted to continue into a fifth straight season next quarter.
- South Sudan is reeling from three consecutive years of flooding, but many remain without aid due to funding cuts as the world’s attention shifts to Ukraine.
- South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay faces Day Zero as multi-year drought threatens remaining water supplies.
- Iraq continues to suffer from drought and low flows in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Little or no help is forthcoming from upstream countries, while provinces defy national government efforts to manage the problem internally.
- Iran tensions continue over water sharing on the Helmand River with Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan continues to suffer from drought, inefficient water management and economic turmoil as millions face acute water and food insecurity and starvation.
- Pakistan and India suffer under an unprecedented heatwave, leading to ruined crops and wheat export controls in India.
PLACES TO MONITOR WITH WATER CHALLENGES
These are a few of the many areas where the model predicts 0 to less than 10 deaths in the next 12 months in a given second subnational administrative unit, but where we are nonetheless following water-related challenges and their implications.
- Morocco: Drought continues to impact water availability for both agricultural and urban users, with wheat output less than half the five-year average and major dams filling at rates of less than 30%.
OTHER REGIONS AND ISSUES OF INTEREST
These are a few of the areas that are currently outside of the model's geographic scope, but have water-related challenges. We are also following certain issues of interest.
- Europe: Drought, wildfires, and record heat have punished most of Western and Central Europe this summer.
- China has also suffered through several bouts of extreme heat, as well as flooding in some areas.
- Australia once again this year suffers through catastrophic flooding along its eastern coast.
- Chile in response to a 12-year megadrought and 2019 protests, will vote on a new constitution that offers much more protection of water for life and nature.
- Mexico is reeling under widespread drought. The manufacturing capital of Monterrey is especially hard hit.
- The United States continues to experience “megadrought” conditions in the southwest. The federal government is under great pressure to force states in the Colorado River Basin to further cut water usage.
- Global Food Prices have fallen slightly from an all-time high but are still fueling violent protests throughout the developing world and causing hardship in relatively wealthy countries as well.
STORIES WE ARE TRACKING
KENYA, SOMALIA, AND ETHIOPIA: DROUGHT NOW THREATENS FIFTH CONSECUTIVE GROWING SEASON
Drought has continued in the Horn of Africa through a fourth consecutive growing season and is predicted to continue into a fifth straight season next quarter (October – December 2022). At least 18.6 million people throughout Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are living with acute food insecurity and growing malnutrition. A host of other factors are making things worse, including the Russia-Ukraine war – a large percentage of the region’s grain imports come from Russia and Ukraine, and food prices in the Horn of Africa are consequently spiking. About half the population of Somalia is facing acute food insecurity and 250,000 are at risk of imminent starvation.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging or ongoing conflict throughout much of the drought-impacted region over the next 12 months. Extreme drought and acute food insecurity may be contributing to these predictions.
SOUTH SUDAN: THREE YEARS OF FLOODING
We have been reporting that South Sudan has been struggling with the worst flooding it’s seen in 60 years, with flood waters failing to recede in many parts of the country. South Sudan is now facing its highest food insecurity levels since independence, with 7.7 million people classified in “Crisis” or worse, and 87,000 facing possible famine. As the situation on the ground grows worse, humanitarian funding to South Sudan is being cut due to donor fatigue and a shift in donor focus to Ukraine. According to the World Food Programme, “almost one-third of the acutely food insecure South Sudanese [it was planning] to support this year will be left without humanitarian food assistance due to critical funding shortages, heightening the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people.”
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging or ongoing conflict throughout most of South Sudan over the next 12 months.
SOUTH AFRICA: DROUGHT THREATENS ANOTHER DAY ZERO
In our last quarterly update, we reported that flooding from record-breaking rainfall in the eastern port city of Durban and surrounding KwaZulu-Natal Province killed 450 people and left thousands homeless as waters swept away houses, cars, and infrastructure.
Now, further down the coast in Nelson Mandela Bay, people are grappling with the problem of too little water, as prolonged drought pushes the municipality towards Day Zero, when taps to city residents are shut off. “The wider Eastern Cape region of South Africa suffered a severe multi-year drought between 2015 and 2020, which devastated the local economy, particularly its agricultural sector. It had just a brief reprieve before slipping back into drought in late 2021.”
In fact, some city residents are already waiting in line for water with jerry cans. Meanwhile, the region is trying to keep the worst effects of the drought at bay by moving water from less affected areas to more affected ones, drilling bore holes, and other means. President Ramaphosa, while visiting the area in mid-July, said that “although government is doing all it can to prevent Day Zero in the metro [region], communities living in the area must also help by using water sparingly and wisely.”
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts ongoing and emerging conflict in the area around Nelson Mandela Bay over the next 12 months.
IRAQ: CONTINUED LOW FLOWS IN EUPHRATES AND TIGRIS RIVERS
Iraq has been experiencing continuous drought since 2020, leading to low flows in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Water Resources Minister Mahdi Rasheed told the press in late May that river levels were down 60% compared to last year. The Ministry of Agriculture cut cropping in irrigated areas to 50% less than the previous year due to surface water shortages.
In mid-July, Iraq asked Turkey to increase water flows down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a request which Turkey indicated it was considering. Both countries have been facing drought conditions. Flows from Turkey into Iraq have been steadily declining over the past couple of decades, as Turkey has built a large network of dams across both rivers. But Turkey argues that Iraq is partly to blame for its water woes, due to its antiquated and inefficient agricultural water management system. Likewise, Iran continues to reduce flows to Iraq, with some transboundary rivers having fallen completely dry. Iran’s struggles with its own water crisis have prevented any increased sharing to date.
The Iraqi government must also contend with renegade provinces refusing to implement or enforce its water resource reduction directives. In June, for example, the governor of the Babylon Province ordered the opening of a water gate on the Euphrates to supply local farmers. “The move was a blatant act of defiance against the federal government that is responsible for the management of water resources throughout the country.” In July, the General Commission for Groundwater announced that some of its workers were attacked in Al Muthanna Province while local authorities stood by and did nothing to contain the situation.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging and ongoing conflict throughout much of Iraq over the next 12 months.
IRAN: TRANSBOUNDARY ISSUES WITH AFGHANISTAN
In late July, the Iranian and the Afghan ministers of foreign affairs discussed issues of shared waters in a phone call and later agreed – according to Iranian news, still to be confirmed by the Taliban – to an Iranian visit to Afghanistan to discuss details of water sharing. Iran very directly expressed its concerns over what it perceives as too little flows from Afghanistan and emphasized that failure to find a solution could negatively affect bilateral relations more generally. This is clearly an increase in tensions – and possibly also part of Iran’s strategy to coerce Afghanistan into compromising over water sharing while the country remains weak and the Taliban’s ability to govern water resources remains extremely limited. According to Iranian news outlets, these threats have been successful, and Afghanistan has committed to ensuring a sufficient water share to Iran. At the same time, tensions on the border – over locally shared water as well as other issues – flared up again in late June and early August.
In spite of some positive signs, the persistent domestic water crisis in Iran – which the government tries to blame on neighboring Afghanistan – as well as the lack of effective governance of water resources at all levels in Afghanistan indicate that tensions will persist into the future.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging conflict in the border areas between Iran and Iraq, and emerging and ongoing conflict in border regions with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
AFGHANISTAN: DROUGHT AND ECONOMIC TURMOIL
In our last quarterly update, we reported that Afghanistan has been enduring the “worst drought since records began.” Drought, flooding, and violent storms, together with the inability of the Taliban to manage water resources or water infrastructure in the country in an effective manner, and the economic implosion triggered by the Taliban takeover, are the reasons why Afghanistan tops the list of insufficient food consumption globally.
“For nearly ten consecutive months over 90 percent of the population has faced insufficient food consumption.” Some indicators of food security in Afghanistan appear to be improving, while others are worsening. With the Taliban in control, Afghanistan is also seeing declining aid from abroad.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging and ongoing conflict throughout most of Afghanistan over the next 12 months.
PAKISTAN AND INDIA: EXTREME HEAT, DECLINING WHEAT PRODUCTION AND EXPORT CONTROLS
In our last quarterly update, we reported that Pakistan and India were suffering through unprecedented heatwaves. Wheat and other crops were wilting in the heat on both sides of the border. Cities and towns were seeing electric power outages for hours each day as utilities rationed power – meaning people were unable to run air conditioners or refrigerators. The European Space Agency reported that the hottest temperatures recorded in the region were south of Ahmedabad, with maximum land-surface temperatures of around 65C (149F).”
These high temperatures continued through the end of June. “[For] a period of almost 100 days [between March and June], high temperatures in Delhi were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on all but 15 of them, with many days breaking 110 degrees.”
In mid-May, in the face of declining wheat production in India and soaring wheat prices, the Indian government imposed a ban on wheat exports, which continues to this day. This move, intended to bring relief to Indian consumers, worsens the situation for consumers in other countries who are paying more and more for food.
The WPS Global Early Warning Tool predicts emerging and ongoing conflict throughout Pakistan and parts of India over the next 12 months.