tagged w/ South East Asia
The scarcity of water in South Asia will become harder to manage as demand rises. South Asia’s population of 1.5 billion is growing by 1.7% a year, which means an extra 25m or so mouths to water and feed: imagine dropping North Korea’s entire population on the region each year.
Greater wealth in South Asia brings with it a soaring demand for food, especially for water-intensive meat and other protein. Industry and energy-producers also use water, though unlike farms they return it, eventually, to the rivers.
Worse, overall supply will not only fail to keep up with rising demand but is likely to fall (unless a cheap way is found to turn sea water fresh). The Himalayan glaciers are melting. A Dutch study last year of the western Himalayas reckoned that shrunken glaciers will cut the flow of the Indus by some 8% by mid-century. Flows may also get less regular, especially if glacial dams form, withholding water, and then collapse, causing floods.
The strain of bigger populations, diminishing water tables and a changing climate could all conspire to produce a storm of troubles. South Asia is especially vulnerable:
Mr Waslekar sees a cut of 20% in total available fresh water over the next two decades.
Others take it further. “Water is the latest battle cry for jihadis,” says B.G. Verghese, an Indian writer. “They shout that water must flow, or blood must flow.” Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terror group, likes to threaten to blow up India’s dams. Last year a Pakistani extremist, Abdur Rehman Makki, told a rally that if India were to “block Pakistan’s waters, we will let loose a river of blood.”
A blood-curdling editorial in Nawa-i-Waqt, a Pakistani newspaper, warned in April that “Pakistan should convey to India that a war is possible on the issue of water and this time war will be a nuclear one.”
More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books.
Countries downstream from China have genuine reasons to fret. Pakistan is exposed. Like Egypt it exists around a single great river, though the Indus is nearly twice the Nile’s size when it reaches the sea. It waters over 80% of Pakistan’s 22m hectares (54m acres) of irrigated land, using canals built by the British. In turn that farming provides 21% of the country’s GDP, as well as livelihoods for a big proportion of its 180m people. Many of them are already thirsty.
On average each Indian gets just 1,730 cubic metres of fresh water a year, less than a quarter of the global average of 8,209 cubic metres. Yet that looks bountiful compared with each Pakistani’s share: a mere 1,000 cubic metres. Worse yet, South Asia’s fresh water mostly falls in a few monsoon months. The dreadful floods this year and last showed that untamed and unpredictable rivers can be both resource and threat.
Angry Indian politicians, activists, bloggers and journalists claim that water-starved China (with 8% of the world’s fresh water but 20% of its population) has plans to divert the Tsangpo/Brahmaputra to farmers in its central and eastern regions. Feelings are running so high that India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, felt obliged to issue a statement on August 4th saying that China’s leaders had assured him there were no such plans afoot. And though a few run-of-the-river hydroelectric schemes are being built upstream on the Tsangpo, none of these could change the river’s course. Cool heads point out that speculation about China channelling the torrent from near the border, at a spot known as the Great Bend, looks fantastical, at least at present.
Chinese engineers would need to use nuclear explosions to have a chance of making tunnels through a series of ridged mountains to get water east from the Great Bend. Although plans have existed since the fourth century to take water from China’s west to the east, and the scheme was pushed by Mao Zedong, the engineering, at least for now, appears to be technically impossible. Yet broader Indian strategic fears—the fact that the Chinese control the Tibetan plateau, which is the source of water for parts of densely populated northern India—will evaporate no more easily than Pakistani fears of India.
The Lancet, a British medical journal, reported last year that up to 77m Bangladeshis had been poisoned by arsenic—the largest mass-poisoning in history. It was the result of villagers pumping up groundwater from ever deeper aquifers. The same poison is now entering crops and more of the food chain.
Filthy water and bad sanitation spread diseases, such as diarrhoea and cholera, which kill hundreds of thousands of Indian children every year, says Unicef, the UN’s children’s agency. Several South Asian rivers, suffering from weaker flows, have become a sludge of human and animal waste, dangerous to drink and wash in and unsafe even for watering crops.
http://www.economist.com/node/21538687The scarcity of water in South Asia will become harder to manage as demand rises.... more
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party has decided to register to take part in elections in Burma.
The decision, which had been widely anticipated, signals the pro-democracy party's confidence in recent political reforms by the military-aligned government, which took power after the country's previous military rulers upheld a promise to hold elections in November 2010 and relinquish power.
The US president, Barack Obama, said he saw "flickers of progress" in Burma and would dispatch Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, to explore new ties.
He said the recent release of political prisoners, the relaxing of media restrictions and signs of legislative change were "the most important steps toward reform in Burma that we've seen in years".
Obama, in Indonesia for the Association of South-East Asian Nations summit, said he had spoken to Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time and she had told him she supported more US engagement with Burma.
Many western governments have expressed doubts that Burma's government is committed to democratic change.
The NLD refused to register for the elections last year because of a government-imposed ban on members who had served time in prison, which would have prevented Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from running. The restriction was lifted this year.
Senior members of the party met on Friday and agreed it was time to re-enter national politics. "Personally, I am for re-registration," Aung San Suu Kyi said in her speech to the delegates.
Any party that registers itself is required to run for at least three seats in the still unscheduled byelections for the 48 vacant seats in parliament, and Aung San Suu Kyi said she was in favour of contesting all 48 seats. The legislature comprises 224 members in the upper house and 440 members in the lower.
A statement said the NLD had "unanimiously decided to re-register as a political party … and will run in the elections". It will be the first electoral test of the NLD's popularity, and that of Aung San Suu Kyi, in more than two decades.
The NLD won a 1990 election by a landslide, but the military refused to cede power and, for the following two decades, suppressed the party's activities and put many of its members in prison.Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party has decided to register to... more
1 year ago
Protestors stormed a Thai hotel where Asian leaders were meant to meet, bringing the cancellation of the Association of South East Asian Nations summit. The demonstration was non-violent, with protestors hugging police and shaking hands. The protesters are loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup.Protestors stormed a Thai hotel where Asian leaders were meant to meet, bringing the... more
Cambodia has accused Thai troops of occupying a temple complex on Cambodian land, threatening to escalate a row over a separate, disputed temple.
About 70 Thais have been at the 13th Century Ta Moan temple complex since Thursday, the Cambodians say.
The Thai foreign ministry says it is not aware of the latest allegations.
The two nations have for weeks been locked in a military stand-off over disputed land around the ancient Preah Vihear temples, further east.
Cambodia has accused Thai troops of occupying a temple complex on Cambodian land,... more
A short film about a program for street kids in Phnom Penh, Cambodia called Mith Samlanh.
Mith Samlanh is Khmer for Friends.
Anyone who has traveled to Phnom Penh has seen the staggering number of street children in Phnom Penh. Someone once told me that handing money to a child on the street is equivalent to telling them that you agree to their lot in life. That's why I love what Mith Samlanh does for street children and their families
Mith Samlanh’s mission is to get children off the streets. The parents of street children are given an income generating project, Mith Samlanh agrees to buy the product and sell it in there shop with the agreement that the children stay in school, instead of being sent to beg on the street. The shop where the products are sold in Phnom Penh is called Friends n’ Stuff. The charming products are made from local, recycled and easily sources low-cost materials such as recycled newspapers and magazines. So much better than buying a souvenir that is probably made in China
I love Mith Samlanh’s mission, so I am including it below.
Mith Samlanh’s mission is:
1. Meeting the street children's immediate essential needs in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
- the right to life: providing nutritional meals, shelter, a safe environment and medical care;
- the right to development: providing education and reintegrating them into public school and by developing their curiosity;
- the right to protection: fighting all forms of abuse against children including physical, sexual, family, and emotional abuse;
- the right to participation: making children aware of their responsibilities and promoting action within the center and in the community;
2. Reintegrating the children into their families, into society, into the public school system, into their culture;
3. and building the capacity of the staff so that
the Cambodian nationals are able to run the
program independent of foreign intervention in
the near future.
How great is that!!
A short film about a program for street kids in Phnom Penh, Cambodia called Mith... more