A conflict is a struggle between people with opposing needs or goals. It can vary from a mild disagreement to a win-or-lose confrontation. People react differently to conflict, some walk away or fight the conflict. Similarly, countries face conflicts over natural resources they possess. Countries with many natural resources face conflict as a result of greed for wealth. Wealth causes internal grievances that lead to conflict or civil war. Sometimes a country can have too few resources that can cause to conflict. Conflict can be internal or external but in the case of Yemen, conflict is internal, and it is about resource ownership.
Yemen is the majorly poorest nation in the Arab countries, facing interlocking conflicts and disappearing natural resources. Its government authority is weakening remarkably and is facing challenges from the al-Houthi Movement, secessionist movements and militant non-state actors. Houthis are dissolving the Yemeni government and are taking control of the few natural resources available. Chaos, insecurity, economic and humanitarian crisis are the everyday life challenges for the Yemenis.
In essence, conflicts transpire in different ways such as tribal conflicts, political conflicts and sectarian conflicts. The people have the need to fight for the resources available and other socio-political issues. Currently, the country is facing a water, oil and land conflicts. But, 70-80% of all rural conflicts are over water resources. Yemen is among one of the most water-scarce countries in the world since 90% of its water goes to irrigations schemes. The country’s oil and water resources are continuously disappearing resulting into conflicts as it lacks enough resources to appease its population. Thus, few available resources in Yemen are causing conflict in many different ways.
The increasing population plus poor controlling of water resources are leading to a catastrophic situation in Yemen. People are drilling illegal wells into natural groundwater reserves at an alarming rate, and there are leaky pipes wasting 60% of water in town areas. Water usage laws exist to deal with these situations, but the nation’s government does not have the capacity to implement them. Therefore, the natural resource conflict in Yemen shall result in national destruction.
While comparing Yemen to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has the financial capability and connections that can encourage an inclusive dialogue in Yemen. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Yemen lacks the financial capability and connections to solve its internal conflicts. Secondly, Saudi Arabia remains the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer since the government has control over its natural resources. Unfortunately, Yemen’s oil and natural resources are disappearing since the government has no control over the remaining few resources. Lastly, Saudi Arabia‘s police presence manage protests and some arrests take place, and there is no bloodshed during such protests. In Yemen, the government and police have no control over protests.
Proposed Resolution Proposals
Resolving conflict helps maintain precious resources and a healthy economy. A solution to Yemen crisis over natural resources would come out internally and not from outside. What is lacking in the country is the provision of several alternatives and options to the people about what they should do. A political solution such as talks and the formation of a new government could end the crisis. Therefore, an intra-Yemeni dialogue between the stakeholders and the broad-based government could halt the militant forces and economic collapse.
Yemen must create economic incentives and make its people understand what they have to do to solve the conflicts in the country. Basing on the lack of water, in rural areas rainwater harvesting should increase, and application of new irrigation methods would be essential. Additionally, a decline in qat production and export could conserve water. However, the problem is convincing Yemenis that these changes will bring economic benefits to them.
The dialogue between the major stakeholders in the conflicts in Yemen would enable the country to identify the potential causes of conflict and the possible surfacing conflicts. Thus, the dialogue would enable the Country strategize on how to handle the existing and surfacing conflicts. On the other hand, water conservation techniques would enable the country store water for future use minimizing the water resource conflict.
The Yemen population is suffering from lack of water, food shortages, and dehydration that lead to health problems such as malnutrition. Therefore, solutions such as foreign assistance could be useful in solving the Yemen crisis. The U.S.A is presenting an initiative to support the country to face all its development issues. It is enhancing these efforts or reforms through donors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) as well as states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Yemen has to cooperate since the water crisis is life threatening to the country. Finally, Yemen could also use rainfall water harvesting methods and improve its irrigation efficiency, and possibly preserve water for the future.