Many say that the next major war will not be for territory but for water. The precious liquid is needed for humankind’s very existence, yet it is becoming scarcer and scarcer as the world’s population continues to grow.
A tiny, arid country surrounded by deserts has been fighting, literally at times, for water since its inception in 1948. Israel is one of the world’s leaders in water conservation technology, simply because it has to be in order to survive. It has only gotten harder recently, with prolonged droughts and increasing population adding to the problem.
As a result of the Israel‘s harsh climate, it has developed world-class water technology, and this fact has now been recognized by the World Bank. Because of Israel’s advanced knowledge of water technology, they are in a position to help other countries with their own water problems.
Israel’s Ministry of Economy has given $500,000 to the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice. The money will be used to increase and enhance water knowledge in developing countries. The agreement also includes sharing ideas, best practices and water industry expertise with developing countries.
Also included in the agreement are study tours, that are “expected to be held in Israel in the next two years and will include officials from developing countries, as well as World Bank Group staff. In addition, the agreement will include an analytical profile study of Israel’s experience in managing water and transferring of global expertise on water security.”
So what exactly does Israel bring to the table when it comes to water technology, and how can it help the developing world? Their advanced drip irrigation systems, for one. The Israeli inventor Rafi Mehudar has been developing drip irrigation systems for 40 years. Netafim is the company he has been working with, and both are now big players in the water tech industry – their drips reduce water usage by 90%, raise crop productivity and are being used in India, Brazil, China and Africa.
The one issue that comes with a large corporation making technology like this is that Netafim cannot sell to a family or single farmer – it is just not feasible, with a drip irrigation system costing $500. This is almost half of the average income an Indian made in 2014 of $1,140. This is where NGOs as well as governments come into the picture. The government in India is paying for half of every drip irrigation system bought from either Netafim or one of the company’s competitors.
Netafim relies on NGOs to organize farmers in Africa into groups to help with the costs. Often single farmers only have plots large enough to feed their family, so selling to a single farmer will not work.
Because of this, Israel sits on a fence edge when it comes to helping the global poor. While they have made the contribution to the World Bank Group, their immensely useful water technology is still only a business, and they rely on others to make it affordable for the developing world. Time will tell whether their technology is a sustainable help for countries with water issues of their own.
– Greg Baker