Israeli Water: Innovations and Challenges in 7 Videos (Blog Action Day 2010)

No issue is more critical in the Middle East than water. But what does that really mean? Water is a transboundary issue that affects the environment, geopolitics, social, and health concerns.

Today is Blog Action Day for the environment and this year’s theme is water. I’m on a quest to learn more- even if it only means bolstering my knowledge incrementally- and I’m happy to take you along for the ride.

Water and the environment are a vital issue. But where to begin? I decided to consult the experts using videos from Israeli universities, the Jewish National Fund, Israel21C, and more. I encourage you to post your own links in the comments section so that we can learn from each other.

Post Preview

Here’s how this post is organized.

  1. Introduction: Get acquainted with the issue of innovative water technologies in Israel and overview of the challenges we face
  2. Best Practices:  Meet students and alumni from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies who are becoming global scientific ambassadors on water-related issues
  3. Next Steps: Learn from a case study in the Bedouin community of Um Batin. One of Israel’s next steps in water management is in bringing basic resources to all the citizens of the nation

Innovations in Israeli Water Technology

Straight from Israel’s new YouTube channel comes this overview of Israeli water technology that focuses on Israel’s role as a scientific ambassador to governments around the world. It additionally covers:

  • Water purification, desalination, and reclamation
  • Drip irrigation as a technique to maximize crop yields while simultaneously decreasing water usage

— Read on to learn more —

Israel’s Water Challenges

These two Jewish National Fund videos contain the following facts about Israeli water consumption:

  • Israeli water consumption is 264 billion gallons per year
  • JNF has increased the supply of water in Israel 10% in the last 10 years through reservoirs and water treatment plans
  • Israel has 112,000 acres of crops and orchards: JNF reservoirs meet 40% of agricultural water needs
  • There are still 90 billion gallons of wastewater that are not being recycled

  • Reforestation (planting trees) helps combat desertification and environmental degradation in drylands and arid zones
  • Although it’s not stated explicitly in this video, it’s a fact that Israel is the only country in the developed world to enter the 21st century with an increase in trees- a major factor in reforestation, fighting desertification, and protecting vulnerable habitats

Israeli Universities Foster Global Scientific Ambassadors

1. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev provides an academic home to students from around the world who come to Israel to study with the experts at the source. This video focuses on the prowess of BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. Issues include:

  • Water purification, desalination, reclamation, and the cultivation of exotic fruit crops

2. Alexandra Cousteau of Expedition Blue Planet interviews students at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies from Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. She finds:

  • “The study of water and the environment reveals a shared humanity that is being translated into life changing friendships between people from all sides of the conflict”

3. CNN interviews Arava Institute alumni Ilana Meallem and Mutassim Abu el Hawa on their experience learning with a polyglot of students from around the world.

Case Study of Water and Sanitation in an Israeli Bedouin Village

The situation of the Bedouin village of Um Batin in Israel’s Negev desert takes us further into the practical issues that this community faces as a microcosm for environmental, health, and safety issues in the Bedouin community at large. We also get a closer look at the work of Ilana Meallem, whom we’ve met previously, and her colleague Mazen Zoabi, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University.

From this study, we learn the following:

  • Half of the Negev desert’s 200,000 Bedouins live in unrecognized settlements that lack sewage systems and adequate methods of disposing of human and animal waste
  • Disposal of waste by burning and dumping disproportionately affects women and children, who suffer from respiratory and urinary tract infections, as well as raising safety concerns
  • Activist researchers Ilana Meallem and Mazen Zoabi are working on creating biogas reactor to help dispose of solid waste in Bedouin villages
  • Biogas reactors have been proven successful around the world and now  need only to be adapted to specifics of the Bedouin communities
  • A primary goal of this project is to help train Bedouin women as health activists in their own community to create an ongoing, sustainable learning process
  • Why is this a water issue? Because sanitation is all about water management and access to clean water sources


I hope this post has taught you a bit more about Israel’s water issues, including its innovations, challenges, and the activists and scientists working on its behalf. I encourage you to share your knowledge by responding in the comments section below.

Recommended Reading for Further Learning

The New Jew– Writings on the Environment:


Green Prophet:

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev: Third Annual International Conference on “Desert, Drylands, and Desertification” in partnership with UNESCO (November 2010)-


Image Credit

Title image sourced from Flickr using the Creative Commons License, with thanks.



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5 Responses to Israeli Water: Innovations and Challenges in 7 Videos (Blog Action Day 2010)

  1. TequilaFM says:

    I like your posts they are very educational in various forms. its good to know what going on out there.

    Well Done Maya. your blog is awesome. 🙂

  2. I agree, this post is very informative. Water is very important. It is worth it to exert efforts in preserving clean water. One way is through water filtration and purification to help recycle water.

  3. […] Israeli water innovations BLOG AND VIDEOS HERE […]

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