Water Is The Answer To Peace In The West Bank

September 11, 1998

ANN ARBOR---They're supposed to be political foes, but Israeli and Palestinian scientists who've collaborated on a water quality study in the West Bank are far from adversaries. They're soldiers in arms who share a vision of a clean and adequate water supply in a part of the world torn by political strife.

"This is research under adversity. We are scientists and we are engineers, we are not politicians. We are only concerned with how to conserve the limited fresh water resource so that it will not be destroyed. Unfortunately, the destruction of the resource has already started. We are starting to scream as loud as we can: Wake up!" said Khalil H. Mancy, professor of environmental and industrial health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Mancy is coordinating an ongoing study that seeks to provide scientific-based policies for the protection and conservation of the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank where the ground water source lies.

The study, called "Environmental Protection of the Shared Israeli-Palestinian Mountain Aquifer," is a five-year study begun in 1994 in collaboration with the Hebrew University-Jerusalem and the Palestine Consultancy Group.

Researchers recently completed the first phase of the study and submitted their findings to Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The scientists have proposed protection and conservation resources such as recycling and reusing wastewater for irrigation and developing a water conservation plan, among other proposals.

"For Palestinians and Israelis, there is no single problem more vital to the health and welfare of both peoples than the equitable sharing and the protection of their limited fresh water resources. The study provides the framework for the joint environmental protection of the Mountain Aquifer. Without cooperative management of this fragile water resource, both Israeli and Palestinians stand to lose," Mancy writes in the foreword of the study.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank consume more water than neighboring Palestinian villagers in the West Bank. In spite of the limited fresh water resources, children in the Jewish settlements enjoy the luxury of swimming pools, while Palestinian villagers are reduced to flushing their toilets once every other day.

"Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank draw water from the same source. If you withdraw too much water, the ground water level will go down and those who do not have the means to draw deeper water will suffer," Mancy said.

Sharing the fresh water supply is an issue of the Oslo peace agreements; however, the issue has been shelved for the time being. "When it comes to water resources, pollution, public health and environmental quality, there is a need for joint management that transcends political differences regardless of the perceived injustice and political conflicts. These are very important issues. If they are not addressed now, the consequences can affect all parties negatively,'' Mancy said.

Untreated human and industrial wastewater from many Israeli settlements in the West Bank area flow untreated or partially treated into dry river beds over permeable areas of the Mountain Aquifer, often flowing into neighboring Palestinian villages, causing environmental pollution and nuisances. The largest single source of untreated wastewater pollution in the study area flows from Jerusalem, which is building a wastewater treatment plant now.

But the plant will only be a drop in the bucket. Estimates show that the population in and around the West Bank area will double and reach 3 million by 2025, which means that the pollution from sources will triple by this time. Massive investments in proper sewage systems, wastewater treatment and disposal as well as solid waste disposal systems are needed to adequately protect the water supply.

"This is a very critical and certainly a deciding issue for reaching final settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. But they coexist on the same land and they have to share the resources," Mancy said.

The research project is supported by the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
-end-


University of Michigan

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.