Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Petrol freighters, from as far a field as China and the Middle East, are stealing fresh water from the Amazon Basin - the contraband of which being facilitated by the absence of authority in the region.
The Amazon - with the largest fresh water reserves in the world – is silently being robbed of its abundant resources, with water being its most recent free-for-all commodity. The water is captured by petrol freighters either at the mouth of the Amazon River in Northern Brazil or well within the Amazon Basin. Some ships even go as far in to the Colombian port city of Leticia - the tri-border region of Peru, Brazil and Colombia – an area rife in arm and drug trafficking, and where little goes accounted for. The ships return to the high seas, with little regard as to what they are taking
The water, despite having an immense variety of residue has a high percentage of minerals and can be easily treated. It can then be bottled elsewhere from where it can cater to an already hugely lucrative bottled-water industry.
For many countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel, the cost per litre in extracting from their already scarce underground water reservoirs is far more expensive than venturing this far; $1.50 per cubic metre compared to only $0.30 for treated fresh water.
Similarly countries like China, that possess 20% of the world’s population, yet only count 8% of the world’s fresh water, also need to look elsewhere for water.
The world’s rising demand for drinking water is already bringing the conflicts that were for so long predicted. In all this, water from the Amazon has now become a strategic resource, and will be more so, for 21st Century South America.