Advertisement

‘Virtual Water’ in the Water Resource Management of the Arid Middle East

  • Hillel Shuval

Abstract

Agriculture and rural village life have historically played central roles in the life, economy and culture of the Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis. However, in the 21st century these nations are facing the reality that their natural fresh water resources will shortly become fully utilized and that there is an urgent need to reevaluate their long-term water resources management strategy. While calls for food security based on growing all food locally arouse popular support, this chapter will show that the modern, rational, economic approach to this question is, that the arid countries in the Middle East, with little water should accept the reality that priority in utilization of their limited fresh water resources should go to meet the immediate human needs of drinking water, domestic and urban use as well as for high income producing commercial, industrial, tourism use and assuring the quality of life with green open spaces. It is more rational to import most of the high water consuming food and fodder, particularly the staples which can be shipped and stored easily from those countries with plenty of water from natural renewable sources. In other words, to import ‘virtual water’ in its most economical form: food. This chapter shows that in reality Israel has de-facto adopted this policy and imports 80 per cent of the national caloric intake from abroad while the Palestinians import over 65 per cent of their caloric intake. Plans must be made over a 20–30 year period to retrain the agricultural population for alternatives employment in a modern economy.

Keywords

Israel/Palestine/Jordan water resources Middle East virtual water food security agriculture water for nature and ecology 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Allan, J.A; Olmsted, J. 2003: “Trading Virtual Water. The MENA water deficit and the consequences of for water policy reform”, in: Lofgren, H. (Ed): The Middle East Water Economy (Washington, D.C.: IFPRI)Google Scholar
  2. Beaumont, P., 2000: “The Quest For Water Efficiency. Restructuring of Water Use in The Middle East”, in: Belkin, S. (Ed.): Water, Air and Soil Pollution, Proceedings of the IWRA Conference in Jerusalem 2000 (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers): 123: 551–564.Google Scholar
  3. Buchwald, S.; Shuval, H., 2000: The Role of the Import of Virtual Water in the Israel Food Supply-Unpublished study (in Hebrew) (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Division of Environmental Sciences).Google Scholar
  4. FAO, 1989: Food and Agriculture Organization Production Yearbook, Vol. 43 (Rome: FAO).Google Scholar
  5. Gleick, P. H., 2000: The World’s Water 2000–2001, Chap.-Water and Food (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  6. Naff, T., 1995: “Conflict and Water in the Middle East in Water in the Arab World”, in: Rogers, Peter; Lydon, Peter (Eds.): Water in the Arab World. Perspectives and Prognoses (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  7. Shuval, H., 1992: “Approaches to Resolving the Water Conflicts Between Israel and her Neighbors-a Regional Water for Peace Plan”, in Water International,. 17: 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. World Bank, 1992: World Development Report (New York: Oxford Press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hillel Shuval
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Hebrew University of JerusalemJerusalem
  2. 2.Hadassah Academic CollegeJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations