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Partnering with Israel on water management

/ 04:25 AM March 22, 2022

Water, one of the most critical elements for the survival of humanity, is something we can’t take for granted. Israel, for one, has shown how it has developed policies, practices, and technologies to save and maximize water as a country with an arid climate, not enough rainfall, and occasional droughts. Israel has become a global leader in water management and water reuse.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further stressed the importance of water as it is crucial for sanitation and hygiene to mitigate the spread of the virus. But many places still experience water scarcity and accessibility issues, making them prone to other viruses and diseases.

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As we mark World Water Day, it is worth looking into the critical issue of water management, including water sources. Water shortage and contamination pose a threat to humanity, as they exacerbate such risks as climate change, desertification, and pollution.

The water crisis is characterized by three parallel processes. The first is the decline in water availability for drinking, agriculture, and industry, as population and corresponding consumption rate continue to grow. Second is the ongoing decline in the quality of water, becoming more polluted or saline with the passing of time. Third is the availability of water: in many places in the world, water sources have moved farther away from population centers, while many households remain unconnected to water systems.

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There are many aspects to consider when discussing water management, ranging from legislation, central government and local government management systems, and their implementation by water companies, as well as modern technologies. Every aspect is critical to increase water use efficiency and coordination, accrue international, public, and private funding, rehabilitate polluted water sources, and encourage investment and research and development.

One of Israel’s creative innovations that enables farmers to increase crop yield and quality while using less water is drip irrigation. The embassy is working with the Department of Agriculture, the National Irrigation Administration, and the Mindanao Development Authority of the Philippines to introduce drip irrigation and other methods for efficient use of water in the agricultural sector. Israel also promotes the use of remote technology for automatic water metering and identification of water loss and quality in residential and commercial areas. Other technologies are water desalination, water purification systems, creating water from air, sophisticated management systems, and so on.

The Israel embassy has also donated Israeli-made water filtration units to typhoon-stricken areas in Bohol and Siargao in December 2021, to the indigenous community in Nueva Ecija, and to the Dumagat tribe in Davao. More units will be distributed to areas that need access to clean drinking water. The portable water filtration unit is ideal for use in far-flung areas with limited access to clean and safe drinking water. In addition, the embassy has conducted a water management seminar for local government units in Mindanao and is looking to repeat it on a national level.

Israel can become the model for integrated water management and use. It treats and recycles sewage water, with 90 percent of its treated wastewater used for agriculture. An Israeli company operating in the country uses the same innovation to treat wastewater in residential areas such as Pampanga, Laguna, and Cebu.

Seawater desalination, the use of brackish water for agriculture, drip irrigation, the development of agricultural varieties that consume less water, and even the extraction of water from air, are other innovations developed and implemented in Israel that we’d be happy to share with the Philippines.

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Ilan Fluss is the ambassador of Israel to the Philippines.

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TAGS: Commentary, Ilan Fluss, Israel water management, PH-Israel cooperation
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