Dry land training: water shortages and the people who fight over them examining conflict in Yemen

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In recognition of the world’s growing concern over environmental resource scarcity, this project examines whether water shortages in Yemen exacerbate conflict between the Houthi rebels in Sa’ada and the Yemeni government—and if so, how? Yemen fulfils a significant number of conditions that environmental security analysts claim should make it vulnerable to ‘water wars’. Yet it is evident that those engaged in conflict in Sa'ada display an apparent lack of concern over dwindling water supplies. This single case analysis calls into question some key assumptions of the environmental security discourse. Namely, the notion that resource shortages, coupled with several intervening factors, make conflict more likely. While this project cannot disprove the probabilistic theories of environmental security analysts, it does suggest that if water scarcity is not a driver of conflict in water-scarce and conflict-prone Yemen, then the 'water wars' thesis should be viewed with considerable caution.
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