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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Based on Israel’s success story, we want to help India in its quest for water | Opinion

Israel went from being water-scarce to water-abundant. It has aided India’s efforts, and will deepen cooperation

analysis Updated: Nov 24, 2019 16:11 IST
Ron Malka
Ron Malka
When it comes to our close friend India, we are keen to share our experience, and help India ensure water for all
When it comes to our close friend India, we are keen to share our experience, and help India ensure water for all(AP)
         

Fifty years ago, as a child, I remember my parents teaching me the value and the importance of water for life on earth. This water- respectful culture I was raised in continues to guide me in my work today.

Thirty five years ago, as a young officer in the Israel Defence Forces, an expert told us that war in the Middle East was inevitable. The reason: Water. As the population grew and water resources grew scarce, it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before war broke out in the arid region in a fight for the source of life.

However, Israel managed to avert this threat by developing both techniques to increase water sources as well as practices to efficiently manage and control water usage.

In the early years of the State of Israel’s existence, the population grew rapidly. As the tiny country struggled with significant water shortage, Israel developed water initiatives all over the country. The Israel Water Authority launched a series of programmes for children that taught them how to save water by simple means, building a new generation of water-conscious citizens.

My own childhood memories of learning the essential value of water are still fresh. These parental teachings of saving water, and using it responsibly, are passed down from generation to generation. As a parent, I always remind my children that every drop counts.

As every citizen of Israel came together to solve the water scarcity challenge, it became home to advanced technological solutions and innovation in the field of water. A country with over 60% desert and less than 20% naturally arable landmass, Israel has become a world leader in water management and water recycling. Over 90% of Israel’s water is recycled, and nearly 80% of drinking water consumed is desalinated or recycled.

Israel has reduced the amount of water needed for irrigation by more than 30%, and has even increased groundwater levels through efficient management and maintenance of traditional water storage structures. Israeli farmers have made the desert bloom with the pioneering use of irrigation and innovative farming technology.

When it comes to water, Israel is not only surviving, it is thriving. Many in the world wonder how such a small country went from being water-scarce to water-abundant. When it comes to our close friend India, we are keen to share our experience, and help India ensure water for all.

In fact, Israel has been a part of Indian water efforts even before the Strategic Partnership in Water was signed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. Israeli drip irrigation systems have been used by Indian farmers since 1993. Approximately 32 Israeli led water projects in 13 states provide technology know-how in drip irrigation, water treatment and water planning infrastructures.

Today, the embassy of Israel in India is working with the Jal Shakti ministry on a scheme to implement advanced Israeli water techniques in order to ease water stress in India. Israel is also providing guidance and training in water management practices in 28 Centres of Excellence in India. Over 7 desalination plants on the coast of India are already using Israeli desalination technology.

I am excited to diversify existing partnerships with new avenues of cooperation in water. We will welcome the Jal Shakti minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, as he travels to Israel this week, to attend the World Water Technology and Environmental Control Conference and Exhibition (WATEC). This year’s WATEC includes a unique event dedicated especially to India, bringing together Israeli innovators and companies eager to join the growing water partnership between the two countries. Israel is honoured to host the minister as he chooses the technologies that will shape the future of water in India.

WATEC Israel will showcase the very latest developments and technologies in the field of water. The minister leads a delegation of prominent government officials, experts, and consultants to jointly achieve the goals of water sustainability set by the Jal Shakti ministry. This conference is an ideal platform for exploring leading technology solutions in water management, building diverse networks in the industry and fostering Indo-Israel people-to-people connections. I hope this visit will create more opportunities to Make in India and Make with India in the field of water.

We are inspired by the magnitude of the Jal Jeevan Mission and stand with our dear friend, India, in tackling its water challenges with Israeli solutions. Israel is keen to help the government of India realise its vision of a water abundant India.

The roots of Indo-Israel relationship are strong. With our cooperation in water, I am sure there is no limit to the heights our growing partnership can reach.

Ron Malka is the Israel’s ambassador to India and Sri Lanka
The views expressed are personal

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