• Scientists are working to extract moisture from the humid climate of the Sahara

The Sahara could become one enormous oasis as scientists work on a new device to gather water – from desert air.

Throughout history, wars have been fought over land, money and beliefs. Yet as the the world’s population outstrips the supply of drinkable water, a new threat may be on the horizon.

Water conflicts across the globe are already taking shape. Residents in north-western Tunisia threatened to cut off the supply of water to the capital, Tunis, last year to protest against economic hardships and continuous water cuts they suffered.

Clashes over the access to water earlier this year between farmers and herders in South Sudan’s Darfur resulted in 70 deaths, according to the UN.

And that is aside from the loss of water due to wars such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The Yemeni interior ministry said in 2015 that up to 4,000 people die annually from water-related violence that includes raids on wells and other battles over access involving armed groups. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 20 million Yemenis do not have access to drinking water because of the ongoing civil war.

Worldwide, one in 10 people lack access to clean water and researchers are studying ways to increase clean supply as access dwindles amid population expansion. Global water demand is projected to increase by 55 per cent with more than 40 per cent of the world population expected to live in areas of severe water stress by 2050, according to Unesco.

More people will result in a greater need for food, meaning more water will be necessary for increased agriculture. This has led scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), supported by Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel, to create a device that can extract water from the air.

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