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October 29, 1997
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Lw 011'r sr$ ~c 9 - nr moo ?to ?ON w.siwnwwww .wrw.w- In ernational Environmental Intelligence Brief Contents Articles 29 October 1997 Concerns El Nino's Potential Impact on Stability in South America~ Southern Africa Bracing for El Nino Hazardous Radioactive Waste Disposal Practices in FSU Golan Water Valuable to Israel Desertification Conference Makes Little Headwa Colombia's Environmental Re ime Weak French Nuclear Industry Suffers Another Setbac Calendar APPROVED FOR RELEASEL DATE: 17-May-2011 Worsening ]Drought in Indonesia Heightens Instability Page 1 (b)(1) (b)(3) Worsening Drought in Indonesia Heightens Instability Concerns US weather experts predict an unusually severe El Nino effect could deprive most of Indonesia of significant rainfall during the critical monsoon period that normally runs from late this month through next March. The country is suffering from its worst drought in 50 years, with many regions reporting 25- to 50-percent less rainfall than average over the past six months. -At least 416 people have died in Irian Jaya as a result of the drought, according to press reports, and nearly 90,000 face serious food shortages exacerbated by logistic difficulties associated with distribution of supplies to remote areas. Indonesia will have to import about 9 million tons of grain-nearly twice its average annual grain imports of the past five years--to maintain a constant level of consumption next year. Jakarta has sufficient foreign exchange reserves-more than $20 billion-to finance the projected increase, but drought-induced price hikes and the ongoing currency crisis in the region will prompt double-digit inflation by early next year, according to economic forecasters. Growing public anger over the government's ineffective response to the drought's worst effects could embarrass President Soeharto in the runup to his expected nomination to a seventh term next March. the poor are increasingly upset about rising food prices, and the media report Muslim leaders have warned that, the current environmental and economic crises constitute a divine warning. Drought Creating Food Shortages Wakes See Severe food shortages reported JAKARTA Java Sea '.9(h90Poa Philippine Sea Severe food shortages reported Australia IRIAN 'JAYA Pap. N. Gui. China Percentage of Normal Precipitation, May-September 1997 i?.: ai,atppa,,' Sew Oca.ur Australia y 0. SUMATRA KAL1A4AN6 N, SULAWESI ndo.nes rlr AKARTA 4..A JAVA Percent - Less than 25 [= 25 to 50 =More than 75 500 Wiometers 0 500 Miles . TIMOR Percentage of Normal Precipitation, September 1997 i i 111111F! ___ '10 1 i IN, JAKARTA Ind r e s i a JAVA TIMOR IRIAN JAYA i. J 44 Unc i~LCrl 744371000522) 10-97 El Nrno's Potential Impact on Stability in South America US weather experts are not able to predict the magnitude of this year's El Nino, but most South American governments have laid the political and economic groundwork to respond to and mitigate potential disaster. Peru and Ecuador, likely to be hardest hit because of geography, were quick to declare emergencies and begin contingency planning in mid-July. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela have taken measures-such as developing plans to speed or delay harvests-to minimize El Niflo's effects on - agricultural production. - Regional governments and international lending institutions already have set aside relief funds equal to the estimated damage of the last major El Nino in 1982. El Nino's impact alone is unlikely to cause political or economic instability, but it could amplify the problems of governments already besieged by other problems. Most notably, Ecuador's. lameduck administration faces - mounting pressure from indigenous groups for failing to address their economic concerns, and Colombia's scandal-plagued administration has shown itself incapable of protecting its citizens from insurgent and paramilitary attacks. -- Bolivia's new coalition, meanwhile, appears slow to grasp the potential impact of the phenomenon; poor planning, combined with the country's outdated transportation infrastructure, could severely test La Paz's ability to deliver relief supplies. - Fujimori, on the other hand, is. advertising the efforts his government is taking in advance of a possible reelection bid in 2000. Large-scale increased government spending on relief could strain fiscal budgets and reduce incumbents' ability to fund popular programs during coming reelection campaigns-particularly in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Nevertheless, foreign reserves are at or near record levels throughout the region-providing flexibility to temporarily set up agricultural imports without encountering balance-of-payments problems. Southern Africa Bracing for El Nina Drought conditions caused by the current El Niflo event ate likely to slow GDP growth in southern Africa by 1 to 2 percentage points next year, While early warning and recent flooding will blunt the drought's impact, most governments are bracing for a 20- to 40-percent decline in agricultural output. - Mozambique, Malawi, and Angola-the countries most dependent on subsistence agriculture-are the most likely to turn to international donors for additional food aid to avert starvation, according to the Southern African Development Community Food Security Unit. - Zimbabwe and, to a lesser extent, Zambia have some grain stockpiled and viable commercial farming sectors that will help mitigate against famine temperatures in southern Africa are already above normal ranges. Recent academic research suggests drought conditions will peak in southern Angola in early January, followed by movement of the core area to Botswana, northern. Zimbabwe, southern Zambia, northwest Mozambique, and, finally southern Malawi by mid-to-late fall. Budget constraints in the region's largest economies-South Africa and Zimbabwe-are likely to limit local relief efforts and could increase internal political tensions. Pretoria has already warned farmers to adjust sowing plans and herd sizes because, unlike during previous droughts, the government will not be able to provide cash relief. - Harare announced plans to establish a $129 million relief fund Without a sizable injection of funds, drought conditions will spur regional migration, putting pressure on urban unemployment and spreading any food crisis across borders. El Nino effects also will reduce real wages by raising food costs, In South Africa, drought is likely to harden organized labor's opposition to the ANC's market- oriented economic strategy by placing Pretoria's growth and employment targets for next year out of reach, according to press reports. - Zimbabwe's President Mugabe, who already is under fire for mismanaging low-cost housing and veterans' pension funds, could face additional unrest similar to that which occurred after the 1995 El Nino-if his government does not meet wage demands and imposes a drought levy. Drought will fuel intraregional competition for scarce water resources. Namibia plans to divert water from the Okavango River in the event of a prolonged dry spell-a move that conservationists claim will damage the pristine Okavango delta and Botswana's - most diverse wildlife refuge. - Botswana plans to tap the Zambezi River, creating problems down- stream for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Southern Africa: Threats to the Okavango Conservationists worry that Namibia's modest plan to siphon 20 million of the 10 billion cubic meters flowing through the Okavango delta could have dWider environmental impact on the world's largest oasis. The director of Botswana University's Okavango Research Center is concerned the diversion could eliminate flood plains covering 90 square miles of the 5,800-square-mile delta. Large animals, such as elephants, would he forced to migrate, adding to their overpopulation in other parts of the country Concerned by the extensive damage elephant herds cause to grasslands, Gaborone successfully pushed for an exemption to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species ban on elephant culling and ivory trade. Moreover, experts are skeptical that Namibia will limit its outtake to 20 million cubic meters annually. A director of the Kalahari Conservation Society publicly noted the pipeline will have to operate full time, not just during peak drought periods, to recoup construction costs. - Lowering the force of the river will prevent nutrients from reaching the edges of the delta and could cause silting, according to Botswana's Director of Wildlife and National Parks. Hazardous Radioactive Waste Disposal Practices in FSU Most countries of the former Soviet Union.. have regulations and systems in place for disposing of radioactive material, but the material is rarely monitored because of its pervasive use in education, industry, and medicine. The absence of monitoring has led to the common practice of dumping radioactive material in trash bins, vacant lots, and landfills. Standardized facilities for disposal of radio- active material-RADON( facilities-are facing problems because of budget shortfalls and the sheer magnitude of radiation sources-press reports estimate 400,000. According to press reports, enterprises that normally would use RADON facilities cannot pay the hefty sums these facilities charge and are resorting to creating their own disposal sites. - From 1982 to 1992, more than 800 dumped radiation sources were detected within Moscow. Several cases of radiation poisoning-most recently in Georgia-have involved improperly disposed radiation sources. The improper disposal of radioactive materials could contaminate commercial goods, posing a health risk to consumers. Several shipments of contaminated scrap iron from decommissioned nuclear-related facilities have been stopped at the Italian border, according to press reports; the metal was to be recycled into other products. Georgian Radiation Casualtie Golan Water Valuable to Israel Security remains Israel's prime reason for keeping the Golan Heights, but an impending water shortage in Israel is increasing the territory's value. Israel consumes about 2 billion cubic meters of water annually, of which 300 million cubic - With Israel's domestic supply of fresh water averaging only 1.8 billion cubic meters per year, this rate of water consumption is irreversibly harming the country's acquifers, according to academic studies of declining water tables and increasing salinity. Meeting Israel's water needs with imports or water from desalinization and sewage treatment plants would be expensive, take time, and create additional security vulnerabilities., Even if neighboring countries would sell water, Israel would avoid relying on unpredictable foreign suppliers who could turn off the taps for political reasons. Academic studies estimate providing 150 million cubic meters annually from desalinized seawater or treated sewage would cost about $175 million; in addition, several billion dollars would be needed to build new treatment facilities. The Israeli Government would seek Washington's assistance in financing the construction of such plants. If the government allows the state water monopoly to raise prices, an academic study suggests households and industry would be willing to pay up to 14 times more for water than the farm sector. Farmers are likely to first reduce production of crops that use significant amounts of irrigation water, such as bananas, citrus, and cotton; these crops consume more than one-fourth of Israel's water but add only about $400 million to the $100 billion economy. lead to larger food imports. -- Israel has made considerable strides in implementing water-conserving technologies, but losing access to Golan water would accelerate the decline in Israel's farming sector and Israel: Nearing Limits of Its Water Supply Israel's per capita supply of fresh water is among the lowest in the region ... Thousand cubic meters per year Egypt Israel Jordan Lebanon Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey us . and the Lebanon, Syria, Golan Heights ' and Jordan 13 provides a significant share of water Golan consumption. Heights Percent ' 18 Israeli farms use the lion's share of Israel's fresh water... Percent 7 Households ... and would provide the cushion if Israel loses part of the Golan's water. 300 Industry 0 1990 91 92 93 94 95 9,418 T* Boundary representation Is not necessarily authoritative. 0 6 Kilometers 0 6 Mites ? e1 ) GOLAN HEIGHTS' Agriculture / (Israeli occupied) 65 < S i ;:: ~ y r