Israelis, Palestinians tackle water shortage with tech

Several of our highlighted peacemaker organizations work on water scarcity issues — from advocating for better policies surrounding trans-boundary water management, to researching better low-water farming techniques. A conference held this September in London brought together 70 experts from Israel, the West Bank, and the UK to discuss innovations that can benefit water scarce communities.

Israeli and Palestinian researchers came together last week with colleagues from around the world in the green and pastoral setting of South London’s Wilton Park to discuss the challenges of water scarcity.

The conference, a show of cross-border dialogue, focused on innovations that can benefit water-scarce communities. It was attended by around 70 experts, including many from Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and the UK. Other participants came from Bahrain, Morocco, and Oman, as well as the United States and other European nations.

Among the topics discussed at the conference were new water technologies and partnerships and their effects on regional stability, the financing of water innovation, and how water issues affect women.

The conference stressed that water scarcity is not an issue unique to the Middle East:

According to the World Wildlife Fund, some 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion people find water scarce for at least one month of the year. Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people — they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever. By 2025, the WWF says, two-thirds of the world’s population could face water scarcity.

“By cooperating with colleagues from the UK and the Middle East, we’re able to explore better management of municipal wastewater and contaminated groundwater,” Prof. Eilon Adar of Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, who spoke at the conference, said in a statement. “This week at Wilton Park, we witnessed the huge potential for more partnerships such as this.”

The four day conference was part of a larger effort to increase scientific cooperation on water between British and Middle Eastern researchers. A UK-funded STREAM program, launched recently, which will support joint water research by British, Israeli and Middle Eastern scientists.

Among those present were EcoPeace, one of the peacemakers highlighted by our coalition.

Nader Khateeb, Palestinian director of EcoPeace Middle East, an organization that promotes environmental collaboration between Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis, said, “Ensuring reliable water supply and water quality is a universal duty all of us share; we owe it to ourselves and to the next generation.”

The full article, quoted above, was published in the Times of Israel on September 16, 2016.