The alarming use of water as a weapon by the Islamic State is sadly part of a greater trend: diminishing water resources as a source of manipulation and conflict [“For Islamic State, water is a weapon,” front page, Oct. 8].

In the Niger River Basin, where Boko Haram has gained influence, similar scarcities have been used to recruit those desperate for food or water. When extremist groups offer an alternative to starvation or thirst, those groups look awfully favorable to local populations, regardless of their views.

As trends of drought and underdevelopment sweep through these and other basins, we must question whether violence can be prevented with water, too. Foreign development programs are often justified with direct economic impacts and health outcomes. But fending off extremist influence is yet another reason to help with infrastructure and agriculture in the developing world. 

Water is not just a weapon; it’s also a path to peace.

Ricky Passarelli, Springfield

The writer is an engineer with the Environmental Security Program at the Stimson Center.