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international bordercamp strasbourg

Water and Migration in a globalised world

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18.Jul.02 - Water is the basis for the sustenance of life. However, about 1.1 Billion people do not have sufficient access to freshwater. As rivers, lakes and their aquifers are being depleted, freshwater becomes an ever more precious economic resource. The more people are facing disastrous droughts and floods, the greater are the business opportunities of corporations like Monsanto or Vivendi Environment. The logic of profit goes: the more scarce water becomes, the higher the price. In consequence, more and more people cannot afford a secure and clean freshwater supply or are being expelled from their homes as dams are being flooded while the stork market shares of global water companies surge.
In the global economy, the World Bank and the IMF are pushing for privatisation as the all-round solution, while local or traditional mechanisms of control and distribution of freshwater and sanitation are being eroded by state laws and international trade treaties. The ecological, social, economic and human consequences of the resulting mal-distribution and destruction of freshwater resources are impossible to estimate but the scars on the planet are already there: Tens of thousands of large dams and millions of people displaced and forcefully scattered around without compensation or place of living.
What politicians and the media merely identify as unwanted economic migrants are also individuals that were forcefully displaced by drought or dam building. But while the economic logic of European water transnationals has destroyed their livelihoods, European governments implement ever more restrictive and repressive border regimes to keep out those that their neo-colonial policies have displaced. The current political discourse and its inherent racism effectively hide the disastrous business practices of European water transnationals. In fact, it is "Western" capital and companies that are heavily involved in constructing dams or diverting rivers to serve industries and growing cities while those outside the profit margin are being displaced and forgotten.

In addition, the overall discourse of progress, development and security hides the powerlessness, exclusion and deprivation that billions of people all around the world experience. This means that the 1.1 Billion thirsty people have no means of expressing their destitution and end up being thrown out of their living spaces as "modernity" invades.
On top of that come conflicts over water (Palestine-Israel, Egypt-Sudan, Turkey-Syria) or wars in which water resources are targets (Iraq war (US bombing of Baghdad's civilian water facilities). On a global measure, 80 countries suffer from water stress, meaning that they cannot meet the basic water provision for their citizens. In total, 4 Billion people are affected, out of which 5 Million children die annually from lack of water.
These aspects and others should also be taken into account and will necessitate more in-depth analysis and reflection. Clearly, many instances of water shortages that create migration flows can be identified beyond conflict and globalisation. One such is agricultural production, which in the verge of the Green Revolution has left natural water aquifers empty and meant starvation in countries such as Ethiopia. But even these involve TNCs such as Monsanto that have pushed their industrial agribusiness around the globe and are today buying up water resources around the world. So we will not come around identifying the adverse impact of current water commodification and form a response by using water as a bridge between the analyses of globalisation and migration.

This workshop will endeavour to extend and debate these first ideas of analysis and will offer the opportunity to bring the various struggles around water together and develop a common understanding of the connection between water mismanagement and migration flows. Also, it seems important to make a contribution to the ongoing discussion about water in social movements and the NGO world.
As a start-off point for this input, the workshop will put to the debate the following principles and should open a discussion on future perspectives on the protection and redistribution of freshwater resources:

• Rejection of capitalist mode of production and exchange (i.e. current public-private partnerships, trade in water)
• Rejection of external power and authority over water resources (i.e. private property over water resources, privatisation, state control)
• Rejection of technocratic, developmental or nationalist "solutions" (ODA, national water schemes such as the Spanish Water Act or India's damn policies) • Recognition that water is essential to all life and interconnects all life on this planet.
• Water can only be organised by non-hierarchical, autonomous, self-regulated means that recognise the natural water cycle and water democracy in disregard of nation-state borders.
• The global-local relationship of analysis and action is crucial to tackle a global water problem that is determined in every village pump or industry practice.
• Recognition that the survival of people in their living-spaces is reliant on secure and clean fresh water. In consequence, the protection of water rights and access to water is fundamental for the freedom of people to chose their place of living.
• Non-protection of water resources will inevitably lead to forced migrations as the natural environment will be destroyed

A small overview of a few basic connections:

From water abundance to water scarcity Loss of right over water, erosion of control over water Mechanisms of mismanagement and exploitation Appropriation and destruction of water resources Destruction of basis of sustenance of life in all its forms Displacement, enforced migration

From oppression to emancipation through social change

Re-settlement in previously lost spaces Creation of spaces of re-organised water resources Collective enhancement of water resources and usage Re-conquest of control over water resources Obstruction of exploitation Struggle for the right to water From water scarcity to water abundance

the water workshop will take place on wednesday the 24th of july at 1100h at the campsite