Like Australia, Israel is a dry country. With almost two-thirds of the country desert, water is a key issue. Israel’s principal sources of water are the Sea of Galilee and the headwaters of the Hermon River, but these are in danger of being overtaxed. Water is also at the centre of many disputes in the region between Israel and its neighbours. But by efficient use of available water resources Israel is able to meet its water needs.

Through conservation, reuse, and desalination, Israel has sufficient water to support the everyday demands of its population, industries, and agriculture. Israel’s accomplishments in the areas of desalination and reuse of water are impressive. Over 75 percent of its wastewater is reused for agriculture.2 This is the highest percentage in the world by far, as compared to the United States which reuses about one percent.

Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, has also opened five major desalination plants in the past decade. Producing a total of more than 130 billion gallons of potable water a year, the goal is to provide 200 billion gallons by 2020. This has been possible because the cost of desalination has fallen in recent years and the process is now cleaner and more energy efficient.

With many years of experience in water technology, Israel is able to provide advice to other nations. Israel freely shares its success in water management and innovation with communities across the world. While Israel exports $2.2 billion in water technology and expertise each year, it also provides training, education, and assists with projects in other countries. At the 2017 WATEC expo and conference held in Tel Aviv, some 10,000 delegates from 90 countries were expected to attend and learn about Israeli solutions for water issues.

Delegations from around the world, hosted by the Jewish National Fund, visit Israel to see firsthand achievements in water management and wastewater reuse. Israeli government and non-government organisations also work directly with developing nations to solve water management problems.

Lives in many African countries have been transformed by using drip irrigation systems developed by the Israeli company Netafim. Using drip irrigation, farmers are able to grow more crops with less water. African countries are also benefiting from solar powered systems that pump water from aquifers, eliminating the need to manually fetch water.

IsraAID, an Israel-based humanitarian aid agency, trains unemployed or underemployed local people to be water technicians so that they can use their knowledge to alleviate problems of waterborne disease and water contamination. Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp and Uganda’s Gulu township, which struggle with these issues, stand to benefit from the expertise that graduates gain from IsraAID training.

Communities in countries as widespread and diverse as Fiji, Haiti, and Myanmar have benefitted from IsraAID’s WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) project, which provides systems suited to local issues and needs. Following a cyclone in March 2014, which left reservoirs contaminated and destroyed water harvesting systems in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, IsraAID provided assistance. Under the guidance of IsraAID engineers, locals constructed a low-tech gravity system to bring water from mountain springs down into two villages of over 600 people. Three more gravity systems are planned with assistance from the World Bank.

In Nepal, the Israeli non-government organisation Tevel b’Tzedek, has worked with local communities to build irrigation pools and water conservation systems to overcome the effects of flash flooding. The organisation has also introduced drip irrigation and is educating farmers to diversify by taking on activities such as beekeeping.

For many years, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has worked with companies such as GAL Water Technologies to provide free water-treatment systems to African countries. MFA has also donated GAL mobile water purification, storage, and distribution vehicles to Papua New Guinea and to the Pacific Marshall Islands.

MFA’s MASHAV, the Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation, is active in Kenya and recently established the Kenya Israel Drought Resilience Agriculture Centre to transfer Israeli irrigation and water-resources management expertise and knowledge. Similar programs to overcome drought and a shortage of water for agriculture are under discussion with Swaziland.

Israel responded to a crisis in Ecuador caused by an earthquake in 2016 by providing water-purification technology from NUFiltration to several affected villages. The NUF system turns washing water into purified drinking water without electricity and was first piloted by the Israeli company in Ghana to prevent diseases from contaminated water.

Safe drinking water systems have been designed and built by the Tel Aviv University chapter of Engineers without Borders in villages in Tanzania and Ethiopia. Training has been provided to maintain the rainwater collection and purification systems, and Israeli engineers continue their support to ensure a safe and sustainable water supply.

The World Bank’s director for water, Jennifer Sara, has acknowledged Israel’s impressive management of its water resources under extreme conditions, and its innovative practices and technological solutions that it exports around the world. With many years of experience in water technology, Israel is able to provide advice and help to other nations that are struggling to manage limited water resources.

As Israel marks its 70th anniversary, the development and progress of this small nation has been remarkable. In the words of Ofir Akunis, Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, “… Israel has become a world leader in the fields of science and technology and it is no wonder that many of the world’s countries look to Israel with enormous admiration and amazement”.3 Israel is proud of its achievements. But a greater future awaits the nation when they are humbled and transformed by their Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob”(Rom 11:26).

References:

  1. Sources: Lin Arison and Diana C. Stoll, “Welcome to Israel’s water revolution”, Israel21c 3 October, 2017 [online] https://www.israel21c.org/welcome-to-israels-water-revolution/ and
  2. Abigail Klein Leichman, “10 ways Israel’s water expertise is helping the world”, Israel21c 20 March, 2017 [online] https://www.israel21c.org/10-ways-israels-water-expertise-is-helping-the-world/ http://www.mekorot.co.il/Eng/newsite/Solutions/WastewaterReclamation/Pages/default.aspx
  3. Israel. Ministry of Science and Technology. Israeli Discoveries and Developments that Influenced the World. Ministry of Science and Technology, 2017, p. [1].