Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA
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At ancient times, when the population on planet Earth was scarce, there was little friction over water resources. This has changed over the past few decades with the exponential growth of population with no corresponding increase of water revenue from nature. Compounding the problem is the construction of dams on almost every river in the world. Dams are used to regulate water flow, store water for use in dry seasons, eliminate or moderate flood hazards, generate hydropower, or control navigation. Dams may also have negative side effects. Dams constructed on international trans-boundary rivers can be extremely controversial. International conventions regulate the exploitation of the water of trans-boundary rivers. There have been violations to these conventions. These violations were done in the name of development. The results were disastrous for downstream riparian countries. In addition to the socio-economic effects, environmental, political, and massive migratory pressures have also been observed. At issue is the question of survival versus development, and which one should have higher priority. Examples will be given of development projects constructed by Ethiopia on the Nile River, which impacted Sudan and Egypt, and of development projects constructed by Turkey on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which impacted Iraq and Syria.
Keywords: Trans-boundary rivers, Nile River, Tigris-Euphrates Rivers, Water conflicts, Water sharing conventions, Dam construction.