Urban Fold

Saving Depleted River Could Unite War-Torn Region

This article from National Geographic examines the rapidly depleted Jordan River and how saving it could bring Israel and its quarreling neighbors together.

A six-year drought, pollution and overuse have heightened tensions between Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians who depend on water from the Jordan River.

"The fight over the Jordan illustrates the potential for conflict over water that exists throughout the world. We live on a planet where neighbors have been clubbing each other over rivers for thousands of years. (The word "rival," from the Latin rivalis, originally described competitors for a river or stream.) Worldwide, a long list of watersheds brims with potential clashes: between India and Pakistan over the Indus; Ethiopia and Egypt over the Nile; Turkey and Syria over the Euphrates; Botswana and Namibia over the Okavango. Yet according to researchers at Oregon State University, of the 37 actual military conflicts over water since 1950, 32 took place in the Middle East; 30 of them involved Israel and its Arab neighbors. Of those, practically all were over the Jordan River and its tributaries, which supply millions of people with water for drinking, bathing, and farming."

Full Story: Parting the Waters

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