Written by Ahmad Fathan Aniq
Water is a source of life. This statement was stated along time ago by Thales (624 BC – 546 BC), the first philosopher of Greek, when he said that the world originated from water. This idea is in line with what is stated in the Quran which says: “By water, We made everything which lives” (Quran, 21: 30). However, nowadays, fresh water has become a critical resource in some countries in the world. It has become a hot issue to be discussed. Furthermore, many people believe that water will be a cause of the next world war. The war over water will change present wars which are still coloured by religious and oil issues. This statement seems reasonable to me.
Pure water has become scarce now. This scarcity is caused by at least three factors. They are: the rapidly growing population, the increasing number of industries which neglect the environment, and home waste which pollutes water. The lack of water does not only reduce the amount of water for human beings’ essential needs but also affects aquatic ecosystems and their dependent species. Next, as a result, the environmental balance will be disturbed.
To this inadequate supply of water, privatization and commercialization of water seems to be a solution. This idea is proposed by some world institutions such as The World Bank. The World Bank believes that the limitation of water consumption is the solution to the world’s lack of pure water. This policy has been implemented in some nations in the world. One of them is Indonesia.
In Indonesia, such a policy was regulated trough Regulation No. 7 of 2004 on Water Resources. With this regulation, the Indonesian government gives a big chance for private corporations to explore Indonesian water resources. Water then becomes a fertile field for business. As a result, everybody has to pay more for water than they have done before. This regulation was widely criticized by Indonesian society. They argued that this new regulation is contrary to The Basic Indonesian Regulation namely UUD 1945. It is stated in section 33 of the UUD 1945 verse 3 that the world (lands), water, and nature’s wealth which is contained in them are conquered by the nation and will be beneficial for societal prosperity. Therefore, it is society’s right to get cheap or even free water. However, now the poor people have to grope for extra money to get pure water. This condition makes conflicts between society on the one hand and the government and private corporations on the other hand.
This conflict is only a small example of the present world war on water. This war is still occurring in a smooth way. It usually appears in policy and regulation forms. Over the next few years, with increasing water scarcity, it is quite possible that the war will take its real form. A military war over water may occur. The war issues will change from religious and oil issues to what is more essentially needed, water. The next world war will be in the name of water.
Leiden, 22 June 2007