14 May 2008

This summer will be extremely dry in Palestine

Last winter was a very dry one in Israel and Palestine. Bad news for the water resources in the region, for they depend on winter rains to regenerate themselves and store enough water to quench the thirst during the hot summer season. The low level of the water resources, combined by high demand, of freshwater, will have an impact on the living conditions in the region.
But the effect of water scarcity depends on who you are and where you live.
In Israel, households will be urged to look after their water consumption (which will cause some annoyance), and in some occasions water will be put on rations (e.g. prohibiting washing cars or filling swimming pools). There will be discussions whether or not public parks and lawns must be irrigated. Special measures will be taken to provide sufficient water to the farmers, who will continue to grow the patatoes, bananas, oranges and organic tomatoes which will end up in the supermarkets in Western Europe.
The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories depend on the same water resources as their Israeli neighbours. Here, water isn't just a refreshing resource that flows out of the tap to quench your thirst on warm days. On the contrary, running water will become a rarity in this part of the region where everyday's life is still determined by the laws of occupation. Palestinians cannot enjoy the water from their country, because they are not allowed to so by the Israeli Occupational Forces. Indeed, during the Oslo Process a Palestinian Water Authority was created to manage some water resources in some areas under Palestinian self-rule. But without sovereignty over their natural resources, the PWA has very little to manage. Palestinian dependence on Israeli consent for using the limited amounts of water which are slipped to them (no water from the Jordan River, a very low percentage of the other transboundary water resources) makes them suffer in 'normal' years with average rainfall in winter, and regional water shortages will make it worse in 2008. Complete cities will be laid dry for several weeks, after which water will be only occasionally available for a few hours. The water will be of poor quality, causing illnesses and further deterioration of living conditions. Farmers cannot grow their crops and get ever more impoverished. A whole society will come crunching to a standstill.
Is this doom-mongering? Probably not. Just remind the series of dry summers in the 1990's and the effect they had on the ordinary Palestinians (and some underpriviliged groups in Israel), and you will have a scenario for the coming summer. The difference will be that we are more than ten years later, pressure on water resources has increased during that period, and very little has been done to avert and avoid unnecessary human suffering from water shortages.

28 April 2008

Film: drying up Palestine

From : Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 April 2008.
A new film offers a devastating portrait of Israel's stranglehold over Palestinian water resources.

"The simple figures are stark enough. The three million Palestinians who live in the West Bank only have access to 15 per cent of the water contained in the aquifers beneath their territory. And of that, they have to buy half from Mekerot, the Israeli national water company. The remaining 85 per cent goes to keep six million Israelis in the comfort to which they have become accustomed. So, in effect, it is Israel which controls how much, and when, the Palestinians can drink. The result is one of the least well-known, and most devastating dimensions of the last four decades of military occupation.

The consequences in terms of underdevelopment, health, hygiene, and daily humiliation, are graphically illustrated in a new documentary film by Palestinian-Israeli filmmaker Rima Essa and former Al-Ahram Weekly journalist Peter Snowdon. Drying up Palestine was made for Ramallah-based NGO House of Water and Environment, and is composed almost entirely of first-person testimony, as ordinary people describe and demonstrate the inconvenience and indignity which Israel's water imperialism inflicts upon them."

Continue reading at the Al-Ahram website.

On the documentary's website, you can have a preview of the first part of the movie.
Have a look on it at Drying up Palestine

10 April 2008

New version of Waternet website online

Since April 9th, the new version of the Waternet website is online. It includes improved navigation tools, and separated English and Dutch versions of the content.

19 February 2008

Predictions of 'water wars' have been incorrect

According to researchers Mark Zeitoun and Jeroen Warner, poor governance of international transboundary water resources often results in water conflicts of varying intensities. Can cooperation over water replace competition and conflict? Predictions of 'water wars' have been incorrect: stronger countries manage water for their own benefit, often at the expense of weaker countries.

Read more

NATO to finance water terrorism research

On 19 April 2007, the Israeli financial news organisation 'Globes' reported that NATO and the Israel Water Commission will finance an interdisciplinary research project by Technion - Israel Institute of Technology on protecting water supplies against biological and chemical terrorism. This is the first research project of its kind in Israel, and is in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax attacks in the US.

Globes reported that the project has a budget of $300,000 and is due to be completed at the end of 2008. It quoted one of the researchers, Prof. Israel Schechter of the Faculty of Chemistry, who said that
"After al-Qaida documents and plans were discovered in Afghanistan, the FBI warned that the organization was planning to attack water sources. It turns out that water dispersal systems in the US, Israel, and other developed countries in the world are completely exposed. They are outdoors, with no guards. The systems are large and numerous, and guards cannot be placed at all of them. An expert panel examined the issue and gave its recommendations to Congress, which allocated $608 million to solve the problem."

We have not yet found any further information on this research project, but as soon as we found additional materials it will be posted on this blog.

2008: international year on sanitation

The UN calls for urgent action for the more than 40 per cent of the world’s population who continue to live without improved sanitation. It is estimated that 88% of the global burden of disease is attributable to unsafe water supply, lack of sanitation and hygiene and is mostly concentrated on children in developing countries. Every day, this contributes to the deaths of 5,000 children from largely preventable causes, including diarrhoeal diseases and parasites.

Therefore, the UN launched 2008 as the international year on sanitation.

New Waternet blog in testing phase

A new Waternet blog has been launched and is currently in its testing phase.