Closely related to the issues of inequitable development and controversial hydroelectric projects is the problem of conflict. As we have seen, many programmes for national economic development that emphasize the need for hydropower development and extractive water practices have major impacts on the lives, livelihoods and cultures of local minority and indigenous communities affected by displacement, flooding of ancestral sites and loss of community cohesion, among other violations.

Factors already discussed, namely drought and floods, coupled with lack of access to safe drinking water and discriminatory forms of hydropower development all converge and intersect with underlying ethnic, political and religious tensions, leading to many forms of conflict. Water stress in countries across the world, coupled with increased competition for resources among already vulnerable groups, is leading to the exacerbation of these conflicts, including inter-ethnic conflict, inter-state warfare, indiscriminate attacks by armed extremist groups, gender-based violence, and mass killings of minority and indigenous activists, including those calling for water justice.