In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, countries use over 80 percent of their water resources in agriculture, according to a U.N. Children’s Fund report. As climate change and migration exacerbate already scarce water supplies, The Blue Peace Strategy is working to promote transboundary cooperation and help ensure food security and political stability in the region.

Over 5 million people along the Euphrates River, which runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq, are at risk of water scarcity and power outages, according to the REACH Initiative. Among this number are 1 million displaced Syrians. Rising temperatures, reduced rainfall, and a historic drought are reducing the river’s water levels, and Humanitarian groups warn of an unprecedented water and agricultural crisis.

“Water is life. Without water, there is no life, there is no development,” André Wehrli, the Senior Water Policy Advisor at The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), tells Food Tank. “Fair and equitable access to water is needed for long term peace and stability.”

Wehrli advises SDC’s Blue Peace Strategy, an initiative aiming to promote water cooperation and generate peace in the MENA region—the most water scarce region in the world. Of the 33 most water stressed countries, 14 are in the Middle East, according to the World Resources Institute.

The Blue Peace Strategy fosters relationship building between countries by combining continued dialogue with baseline studies, knowledge, and capacity building, and building confidence and trust.

The 2022 Global Risk Report from the World Economic Forum names water security as a top risk in terms of impact for the tenth consecutive year. In 2017 alone, water was a major factor in 45 global conflicts. And an article published in Geneva Solutions expounds the use of water as both a weapon of war and an instrument of peace.

“While international treaties and water law are absolutely necessary, they are not a silver bullet solution,” Wehrli explains. “It is important to strengthen the entire global water governance system.”

Read the full article about water scarcity by Elizabeth Rhoads at Food Tank.