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

Sources: The Atlantic, World Bank Washington Post, Times of Israel
Photo: greenprophet

Receiving only a half-inch of precipitation annually, the 7.6 million residents of Lima, Peru are in the midst of a serious water shortage. One point two million Limans do not have running water at all, and 700,000 people have no access to clean water for drinking or bathing. With advanced climate change affecting the natural water sources of the Andes, engineers from Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) have turned to science, and specifically water billboards, for an answer.

Like a magician pulls a rabbit from a hat, they’ve figured out a way to pull water from thin air.

The process of scientific magic occurs inside a billboard in Lima’s Bujama District, erected by a group of UTEC engineers in partnership with marketers from the Mayo Publicidad ad agency. The billboard takes advantage of Lima’s high degree of humidity, nearly 90 percent in the summer months, and transforms this moisture into usable water.

When moist air hits the billboard, five condensers cool it and convert it into liquid form. The newly created water goes through reverse-osmosis purification and then flows into a 20-liner storage tank at the billboard’s base. The filtration system is simple and straightforward, though not entirely self-sufficient, because it uses electricity from Lima’s power lines.

Active for 3 months, the billboard has had a significant effect. It has produced nearly 2,500 gallons of water, averaging 26 gallons a day. According to the UTEC engineers involved, this is equivalent to the water consumption of hundreds of families per month.

Efforts have been made in the past to magically pull water from the air. Most notably Eole, a French company, installed a wind turbine in Abu Dhabi that was said to generate more than 370 gallons of water a day. The commercial launch of this technology, however, came at too high of a price.

That’s the genius of UTEC’s water billboard – if the technology expands, it will be inexpensive to install thanks to funding from advertisers. The inaugural billboard costs only $1,200 to construct, and advertises both UTEC and the technology itself. UTEC has not gone unrewarded, since the erection of the billboard enrollment has substantially increased. It hopes that companies will see UTEC’s own results and seek to advertise on water billboards themselves.

It is unclear whether more billboards like this one will be installed throughout Lima, but UTEC’s water billboard has successfully started new discussions about providing clean water. Advertising can be more than a commercial tool; it has potential as an effective method of helping those in need.

– Katie Pickle

Sources: Popular Mechanics, Time
Photo: Fast Coexist