Water & Sanitation

About Water and Conflict


Water is a simple but absolute necessity of life. Yet much of the world’s population lacks adequate clean water, either because of physical scarcity or because they are denied equitable access to water resources. Such conditions inevitably breed conflict. Water-related violence is common in many parts of the world. 

CRS focuses on the increasing dynamic of water stressed and water-scarce countries and the pressure this puts on governments and communities. 



  • Multi-level approach: Conflict is as much a challenge at the local level as it is at the national and cross boundary level. Communities frequently battle over water rights issues and access across rural and more remote populations. In urban areas, the problems are usually exacerbated by limited or no access to water in the poorest slums and shantytowns, leading to forced illegal access. In many countries, CRS is engaged in clarifying the roles of government, civil society and the private sector in the ownership, management and administration of water resources and services. 

  • Role as peacebuilder: CRS works with the community to understand problems of scarcity and equity.  Based on that, we provide practical guidance and tools for action and peacebuilding.  We organize dialogues between stakeholders, coordinate activities, help to resolve conflicts, analyze stakeholders’ water rights, assess the water quality standards and practices in place, and address bureaucratic obstacles and corruption. 

  • Gender Integration: Surveys from 45 developing countries show that women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the vast majority of households. It’s estimated that women and children spend 200 million hours each day collecting water. CRS works with communities to address issues surrounding water scarcity and insufficient water supply services affecting the schooling of young girls and the education of women. CRS projects that bring water to villages and urban areas free women from the burden of drawing and transporting water and permit them to work at other productive or income-generating activities or spend more time with their families.