FR EN ES Search
  1. Home
  2. Past Events
  3. Key figure 831 violent conflicts linked to water in the world since 2010


All the news

Key figure: 831 violent conflicts linked to water in the world since 2010

According to the Pacific Institute, conflicts related to water are increasing considerably around the world. The database Water Conflict Chronology, built by the research centre in the 1980s and whose last update was published in March 2022, proposes the categorisation and archiving of all the violent incidents involving water since the oldest known war for water in ancient Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago. Although water resources have never been, or only rarely, the sole source of conflicts and wars, the Pacific Institute states that the relation between water and security is currently greatly underestimated in geopolitical analyses.  

An indispensable guide for understanding conflicts linked to water

The database “Water Conflict Chronology” is composed using an explicit and transparent survey methodology. Conflicts are defined as episodes of violence (injured and dead) or threats of violence (verbal threats, military manoeuvres, demonstrations of force). The Pacific Institute points out that it excludes from the list negative effects linked to the direct management of water, such as the displacement of populations following the construction of a dam, and the impacts of “natural” disasters such as droughts and floods.

The conflicts are divided into three categories. They can be related to control over water, that’s to say physical or economic access to water (the “Trigger” category). Water or water infrastructures call also be used as arms during violent conflicts (“Weapon” category). Lastly, the chronology lists events where the loss of water resources or infrastructures linked to water are the deliberate or accidental target of violent episodes (“Casualty” category).

Lastly, the conflicts are listed according to the region of the world concerned. Each violent event is given a precise date, a location, and a brief presentation of the facts associated with an academic or journalistic source.



More than 1,300 conflicts identified with a significant increase since the 2010s

831 conflicts linked to water recorded since 2010 with two areas of strong tension: Asia and Africa.

For example, for 2021 the Pacific Institute reports more than 41 wounded and 200 deaths during the violent border conflict between Tajikistan and Kirgizstan, a conflict over the control of a canal and a pumping area on the river Isfara. The map also indicates tensions between China, India and Bangladesh over the management of Chinese dams upstream.

The second region in which conflicts over water are concentrated is Africa. The report mentions tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over the mega Renaissance dam upstream of the Blue Nile. It also mentions different recent violent episodes in southern Sudan, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Angola and Guinea.

The most recent violent conflicts over water recorded in 2022 are:

  • In Ukraine, a release of water ordered by the Ukrainian authorities at a dam north of Kiev to delay the advance of Russian troops towards the city, followed by the destruction of the same dam by Russia several weeks later;
  • In Yemen, the destruction of a water reservoir by unidentified air strikes;
  • In Somalia, the explosion of an Ethiopian tanker truck by militant Al Shabab Salafists, causing ten deaths and fifteen wounded.

According to the authors of this chronology: “unless strategies that permit switching from conflict to cooperation regarding water are pursued and implemented, violent incidents linked to water resources appear destined to increase”.

Mettez à jour votre navigateur pour consulter ce site