The Stream, July 18: Severe Drought Escalates Water-Sharing Tensions Between Afghanistan and Iran

The Global Rundown

Prolonged drought aggravates tensions between Afghanistan and Iran over sharing water from the Helmand River. Scientists suggest that the 96 million ‘shade balls’ dumped into a Los Angeles, California, reservoir in 2015 may not conserve water. England’s first hosepipe ban of the summer is set to begin next month. Refugees from the Central African Republic struggle to access basic services in Cameroon. Inter-communal violence over land and water rights in Mali leaves hundreds dead this year.  

“We can see the Helmand River water, we can even go touch it, but we can’t bring its water to our farmlands. It is frustrating for every farmer to see large amounts of Helmand River water flowing into Iran.” –Rafiqullah Dawoodzai, a Afghan farmer, in reference to an ongoing dispute between Afghanistan and Iran over the waters of the Helmand. Afghanistan currently lacks the infrastructure to harness the Helmand for extensive irrigation, but is planning to construct new dams–a move that drew ire from Iran. The dispute is being intensified by the region’s severe drought. Reuters

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By The Numbers

250,000 Number of refugees from the Central African Republic who are now residing in Cameroon. Although Cameroon offers a safe haven, many of its villages lack basic services, leaving refugees and residents with minimal access to clean water and proper sanitation. Al Jazeera

7 million Number of people who will be impacted by a hosepipe ban in northwest England, the country’s first ban of the summer, as abnormally hot, dry weather grips the U.K. In other parts of England, water utilities say supply remains adequate and they do not plan to impose similar restrictions. BBC

Science, Studies, And Reports

In 2015, California dumped 96 million “shade balls” into a Los Angeles reservoir. The plastic balls were supposed to improve water quality and reduce evaporation. According to a recent report, however, the shade balls may save less water than it takes to create them, depending on the length of time they are in use. PBS Newshour

On The Radar

A spokesperson for the United Nations announced this week that inter-communal clashes in Mali have left nearly 300 people dead since the beginning of the year. The fighting is fueled by a variety of factors, including politics, ethnic tensions, and land and water disputes. The UN warned that the violence could worsen in the lead-up to the country’s presidential election on July 29. Reuters

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