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Resource Scarcity and Social Unrest

Due to the over-exploitation of water by agribusinesses in Baja California, water has become a scarcity for many residents living in San Quintin. Christian Zlolniski notes the rise of protests, political rallies, and conflict among neighboring colonias, as residents fight for basic rights (576). Because of the competition for water from a limited number of wells and redirection of water to other settlements, political unrest is common.

This issue of water scarcity is certainly not limited to Mexico. In their article titled, “Resource Scarcity and the Prevention of Violent Conflicts,”Renée Gendron and Evan Hoffman report that, “historically, inter-state wars have not been fought over access to water (OECD, 2005). Local tensions, local violence and increased regional tensions can and do occur over water issues however (OECD, 2005). These tensions will likely continue to increase because, “competition for water exists at all levels and is forecast to increase with demands for water in almost all countries. In 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress” (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2009)” (2009). Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed, as economic and social inequalities will only perpetuate this issue when scarce resources need to be distributed.

The following video clip demonstrates the violence that can erupt because of a scarcity of resources. In this conflict, South Africans exhibited xenophobia, or a fear of strangers, because they were seen as a form of competition for scarce resources. Economic inequality and increasing prices for limited resources can lead to polarization and violent conflict between different people groups, both in countries like South Africa and Mexico.



Gendron, Renée, and Evan Hoffman. “Resource Scarcity and the Prevention of Violent Conflicts.”

        Peace & Conflict Review 4.1 (2009): 1-11. Print.

Zlolniski, Christian. “Water Flowing North of the Border: Export Agriculture and Water Policies in a

        Rural Community in Baja California.” Cultural Anthropology 26.4 (2011): 565-88. Print.


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