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We need water

Water is essential for all living things. Every type of ecosystem depends in some way on water. And it’s not just how much water an area has, but also the quality of the water. As pollution changes our water sources, it also affects all the living things in the world.

Sharing water

Water is a unique resource because one water source can belong to several different countries.

Even when governments are unfriendly in other areas, experts find that officials can usually work together, or cooperate, on water problems. In fact, this type of cooperation goes back tens of thousands of years as people began to raise crops and animals.

Modern countries have learned that cooperating about water works better than fighting about it.

Learning to cooperate, step by step

Cooperation calls for many different skills. The United Nations hopes that by educating and including children in discussions about water, a new generation will care about sustaining, or keeping, our water resources and making water available to more people around the world.

Can you cooperate?

Divide your class into four groups. One group represents farmers, who use water to irrigate their crops.

The second group represents city officials. They need water for drinking, sewer systems, and watering parks and lawns.

The third group is industry. These are factory owners who use water to produce their products.

Finally, the fourth group represents citizens – regular people who use water for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, etc.

1. Each group should meet and decide why it needs more water, or how it could save water. For example, farmers might consider planting crops that need less water to grow. Talk about how water is important to your group and how it can be a problem.

2. Each group selects a spokesperson to be the negotiator.

3. When each group has a goal, the four negotiators explain their goals to the whole class. Then the four begin to work together so that each group can achieve at least part of its goal. Other group members can give ideas or background information to help the negotiation.

4. Talk in your classroom about how cooperating worked for you. Discuss what you might have done differently to make it work better.

Water Cooperation