Water, Conflict and Female Vulnerability

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Woman with water vessel. Source: waterdotorg/flickr

On Monday, August 29th, the Environmental Change and Security Progam (ECSP), part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, will host a free afternoon event exploring the linkages between water access, gender, and conflict. “Digging Deeper: Water, Women, and Conflict” will be a panel discussion under the auspices of a fledgling ECSP research project examining how these dynamics interact and contribute to human insecurity. If you are unable to attend the event in person, it will also be transmitted live via webcast.

The ECSP has been working together with the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation at USAID to identify opportunities to reduce the underlying sources of conflict through water-related programming. ECSP’s contribution to the May 2011 edition of the “Global Waters” newsletter highlights the diversity and complexity of this topic, with issues ranging from the “exposure of women as they travel to gather water” to “direct conflict over access to limited water resources by people of different groups.” The article also serves as a reminder that further consideration needs to be given to the “secondary or tertiary violence stemming from water-related social and demographic disruptions and the possible specific targeting of water-seeking women for political ends.”

Speakers at the event will be Carla Koppell, former Director of The Institute for Inclusive Security and now Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment with USAID; Dennis Warner, senior technical advisor for water supply, sanitation and water resources development at Catholic Relief Services; and Sandra Ruckstuhl, a long-time World Bank conflict and natural resources consultant who is now at Group W.

Background Material

Tackling the Water Crisis

Reshaping the Future of Foreign Policy

This essay collection examines the centrality of water in tackling 21st century challenges such as peace, food and energy security. Contributions focus on governance and investment in water management, highlight the importance of the diverse social groups who, despite being central to the water scarcity debate, are often marginalized, and look beyond water itself in order to address the importance of rivers and aquifers.

Water Conflict Prevention and Mitigation

Conflict Prevention and Mitigation in Water Resources Management

This report discusses the prospects for conflict prevention and mitigation in water resources management. The authors take stock of the understanding of water-related conflicts and lessons learned with respect to governance, trans-boundary cooperation, and conflict resolution in integrated water-resources management.

Water, Globalization, and Global Security

This paper discusses the role of water in international security. The author argues that among the most pressing issues concerning water globalization is the controversial trend toward privatization, the failure to meet basic human needs for water, worsening ecological degradation and the risk of international and subnational violence over shared water resources.

Environmental Peacebuilding

Managing Natural Resource Conflicts in a Changing World

This swisspeace conference paper explores the linkages between natural resource and conflict management in developing countries; provides insights into the challenges and best practices of the peaceful management of key renewable natural resources in different parts of the world; and formulates entry points for improving current intervention strategies by external actors as well as entry points for innovative future research in the realm of environmental conflict and resource management.

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