Competition over natural resources, including water, is often viewed as a driver of conflict and has emerged as a key component in many current and past conflicts. However, disputes over water, whether scarce or abundant, do not always result in violence. In fact, the management of water often brings parties together and encourages cooperation; it can be an integral factor in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and reconciliation processes. Since fresh water is irreplaceable and indispensable to life, it is a valuable and contested resource that requires careful, conflict-sensitive management to ensure that it will continue to fulfill its purposes over the long term.
This toolkit is part of a series that explores how development assistance can address key risk factors associated with conflict and fragility. By exploring waterrelated issues in depth, this toolkit and others in the series serve as companion pieces to conflict assessments. Conflict assessments provide a broad overview of destabilizing patterns and trends in a society. While they provide recommendations about how to make development and humanitarian assistance more responsive to conflict dynamics, they do not provide detailed guidance on how to design specific activities. The toolkits in this series fill that gap by moving from a diagnosis of the problem to a detailed discussion of potential interventions. Together, the USAID Conflict Assessment Framework and toolkits are designed to help USAID officers and other development practitioners gain a deeper understanding of the forces driving violence and instability and to assist in developing more strategic and focused development interventions.
This toolkit is intended to help USAID and their partners understand the opportunities and challenges inherent to development programming in conflicts where water is an important issue. This document:
- Explores the relationship between water, conflict, and cooperation
- Highlights lessons learned from relevant development and peacebuilding programs
- Discusses options for programming based on past USAID and development community experiences
- Provides a Rapid Appraisal Guide to support officers in identifying and evaluating the conflict risk and peacebuilding potential of water programs
Together, the elements of this toolkit are designed to help raise awareness about the linkages between water resource management and conflict as well as opportunities for peacebuilding and integrating a conflict perspective into development programming.