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Researchers Develop A New Early Warning Tool For Water Crisis Conflicts

Researchers Develop A New Early Warning Tool For Water Crisis Conflicts
Many experts have predicted that water and not oil will be one of the primary causes of future conflicts. And this is turning out to be true as there is a in increase in violence related to water globally.
And in order prevent such potential water related conflicts, an early warning system to help predict such water conflicts has been developed by researchers from six organizations.
This global early warning tool was developed with funding from Water, Peace and Security (WPS) project of the Dutch government attempts to preempt possible water related conflicts by examining a combination of issues such as environmental variables like rainfall and crop failures and political, economic and social factors. This tool which has been presented before the United Nations security council last month before its formal launch, is capable of predicting such conflict situations a year before they would occur. 
According to the designers of the tool, this predictive process considers a host of environment related data such as precipitation and drought, in combination with socio-economical variables. The researchers claim that this is the first time that such a combination has been used to predict future water conflicts. The tool is designed specifically for awareness raising among policymakers, and people and parties in regions where there is water crisis even though the tool can also be accessed online by the public for use. 
Possible water related conflicts that may take place in Iraq, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, India and Pakistan in 2020 have already been predicted by the tool. The researchers have claimed that the tool can predict future situations with an 86% success rate wherein conflict zones where there will likely be at least 10 fatalities are identified. Water crisis related hotspots across Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are the currently the focus of the tool.
In the past decade, there has been a significant increase in water-linked violence, according to recent statistics revealed by the Pacific Institute thinktank in California, which noted that the number of such incidents of violence had doubled over the last decade compared to such incidents that took place in the decade before.
“The machine learning model is ‘trained’ to identify patterns using historical data on violent conflict and political, social, economic, demographic, and water risk,” said Charles Iceland, senior water expert at the World Resources Institute, part of the WPS partnership.
“It looks at over 80 indicators in all, going back up to 20 years. It is then able to use what it has ‘learned’ about the correlations among these variables to predict conflict or no conflict over the next 12 months, given current conditions,” he said.
Iraq and Mali were highlighted as two countries at risk by Jessica Hartog, a climate change expert with International Alert, a WPS partner.
The issue of the reduction of the Niger River’s water levels has caused tensions between Malian farmers, cow herders and fishermen. On the other hand, more than 120,000 people were hospitalised in Iraq after drinking polluted water which resulted in mass protests on te streets of the country by people who are already infuriated by lack of basic needs.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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