THE 'I-DEAL' LIFE
By: Ronda Robinson
Located in one of the driest regions of the world, Israel takes water scarcity very seriously and is globally recognized for creative solutions to what would otherwise be a dire crisis.
The country that made the desert bloom is sharing its know-how with developing nations.
Known as the country that made the desert bloom, Israel is sharing its water-technology savvy with millions of people in developing nations, thanks to a deal recently signed at World Bank Group headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“Israel’s experience and expertise will undoubtedly be relevant and advantageous for the World Bank’s client countries, faced with many challenges related to water security,” says Jennifer Sara, director of the bank's Water Global Practice.
Located in one of the driest regions of the world, Israel takes water scarcity very seriously, and is globally recognized for creative solutions to what would otherwise be a dire crisis, she notes.
A water shortage in recent years inspired creativity among Israeli entrepreneurs. They introduced innovations in water and agricultural technologies – for instance, different ways of recycling – keeping up an Israeli tradition. Much of Israel’s water comes from desalination (taking the salt out of seawater) or filtered and recycled water. Experts say reuse is the wave of the future.
Israel also invented drip irrigation, a method to cut expenses and save water by allowing it to drip slowly, directly to the roots of plants, rather than being sprayed everywhere. Farmers water their crops with just the amount of moisture needed, instead of employing flood irrigation.
Israel has committed $500,000 to the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice to share knowledge with countries most likely to benefit because of similar water security problems.
“For any country to invest in this is an important thing,” says Dr. Michael Beach, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch and the agency’s foremost expert on waterborne illnesses. “It’s about keeping people healthy.”
Dr. Beach notes that “water is our most precious global resource,” adding that “water sanitation and hygiene issues are the underpinning of development in the world.”
Israeli water experts will travel abroad to teach about technologies and techniques to manage and conserve water resources. They will focus on water services delivery, filtration, sanitation, industrial water use and other areas.
The study tours supported by this financial contribution will take place in Israel, and representatives from developing countries will travel there to attend the study tours and learn the best techniques. The contribution does not support Israeli water experts traveling abroad.
Additionally, World Bank staff and 40 representatives from developing countries will visit Israel to study advances in everything from desalination to drip irrigation. Sara says the groups will invite Israel policy makers, water managers, customers and technology inventors to share with participants their experience and best practices.
“Israel’s experiences will also be documented in a technical study and disseminated broadly to interested stakeholders around the world.”
The World Bank’s Water Global Practice manages a portfolio of approximately $30 billion in lending through hundreds of projects. The largest projects are in urban and rural water supply and sanitation, irrigation, and water resources management.
From 2011-2014, World Bank projects helped provide nearly 37 million people with improved water access, and 10 million people with improved sanitation access.
The bank offers low-interest loans, zero- to low-interest credits, and grants to developing countries to support education, energy, health, business, agriculture and environmental and natural resource management.
Water security is at the center of its efforts to help countries adapt to and stem the effects of extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods, according to Ms. Sara.
“People cannot be healthy without safe water and sanitation,” Dr. Beach added. “It’s water quantity issues and water quality issues.”