Describe your professional (and/or personal) experience relating to water and space technologies.
I have 10+ years’ experience of managing and coordinating water-related or directly related projects in Palestine, Israel, and Jordan, stemming from the fact that water needs to be conserved and that water both has no identity and does not differ between identities. My perspective is aimed at developing a model stimulating that water is the source of daily human activities and needs to be delivered to each human being. My work has utilized several space-based technologies, such as spatial analysis, and water elevation mapping. These technologies support and help in setting up water and sanitation priorities when it comes to access to water and pollution control.
Through the development of social vulnerability resulting from climate change, space technologies can support the best practices that would help people to mitigate climate associated risks, especially by mapping hotspots and identifying solutions and policies that take into consideration the gender, income, and conflict context.
Could you tell us about your current work, your latest project or your proudest professional moment related to water?
Currently, I am leading a newly established consultation firm called EuroMED Alliances for Consultancies and Capacity Development. Through EuroMeD Alliances I am leading three contracts with the US Dept. of State. These projects are: Green businesses and Water, EcoTourism and Water, and Solid waste management through women leaders.
Moreover, I am a consultant with the Arab Water Council on an SDG Climate Security Facility. My consultation is focusing on developing a methodology that can reflect the impact of climate change on social vulnerability through reviewing the current mitigation mechanism for hazards such as floods, heat waves, and droughts, which can then be transferred to the Arab Region.
You have been responsible for carrying out and managing development projects. How could these water-related projects benefit from space technologies? What would be the needs, what are the challenges? Do you think space technologies would add value, and if so, why are they not used?
I used to lead several development projects in different sectors such as WASH, food security, economic development, and urban and rural development. Space technologies were essentially used in all of those projects, Why? Because the used space technologies helped to model and map the development of those sectors especially in water network development projects, climate change vulnerability hotspots, and pollution control. In the latest mission with the Arab Water Council where mapping of vulnerability hotspots such as poverty mapping, lack of access to water mapping, and conflict areas mapping is important, space technologies were used efficiently to identify locations that need policy development and projects.
To develop a holistic development modelling approach for the targeted projects, especially those related to access to water and proper sanitation, and the calculation of groundwater vulnerability to pollution and abstraction is rather important. The challenges in the water-related projects, however, include financing the projects, human capacity, the skills and knowledge, availability of maps and tools, as well as the geopolitical situation.
Space technologies could add value by providing accurate data for modelling and the identification of borders related to access to water and groundwater resources. There is great potential for space technologies to be more often used in these projects. One factor to unlock this true potential is by increasing access to these tools. Sustained governmental support to put these technologies and the information they can provide on the decision makers table is a key part of an enhanced policy making process.
What did you take away from the Good Water Neighbours Project, what did you learn, where do you see room for improvement? Can you tell us about the watersheds in the area? Were space technologies used to provide data? If so, how. If not, how could they add value to projects like this one?
The Good Water Neighbours project has a lot to offer in terms of learning and experience. The project aims at improving cooperation, collaboration, and sharing of information between Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians on different topics such as water and climate security, sanitation, youth, environmental awareness, and advocacy. It aims at increasing prosperity, security, and peace in these regions.
The project consists of two main components. The first one follows a bottom-up approach where youth and grassroots organizations cooperate to increase the knowledge, skills, and expertise of youth. It is aimed at young individuals, who are willing today to learn about the geo-political water situation in the region. The second component follows a top-down approach in which an advocacy on geopolitical challenges is provided. These challenges are addressed by developing evidence-based factsheet reports and studies that reflect the needs of preserving the natural and environmental heritage.
The project leverages funds and approves financial and technical awards for the benefits of the three nations. By establishing a regional watersheds forum, which has been organized for the 11th time, and bringing municipal staff, researchers, think tanks, NGOs, and activists from the three countries to the podium, the initiative also has shown impact.
Watersheds were identified by putting less emphasis on borders, and setting an example reminding of the nature of water. Running water does not differ between people’s nationalities or power, it just flows according to topography and gravity. Space technologies can be used to map the direction and flow of wastewater crossing borders, which can eventually lead to conflict. Identifying the routes of pollution can help to create a win-win solution for all parties, taking into consideration the geography and topography of the lands. Moreover, space technologies can help to monitor the impact of wastewater spills on the routes of streams and rivers.
What do you need to innovate?
Through the new firm, I have had the chance to innovate. I have developed several ICT based solutions that help farmers, eco-tourism, and water service providers to offer high quality services. I have provided brief descriptions of three of my latest innovations below:
1. Farmers: Irrigate the fields through sterilized systems that can be controlled through mobile applications taking into consideration the temperature, humidity, and limited nutrients that plants need.
2. Ecotourism Mobile application: a mobile application that can be used by ecotourists to identify the location of sites to visit, along with elevation. It also allows the measurement of carbon footprint and helps in identifying water streams, which avoid risk and threats.
3. Water service providers: through my mission with Action Against Hunger along with consultants, a water distribution model was developed which took into consideration the elevation of households, the water pressure from sources, and the diameter of pipelines.
Can you tell us about your role in the Arab Water Council (AWC)? Do you know of any way in which the Arab Water Council relies on space technologies for their work?
The objective of my mission with AWC is to reach a better understanding of the impacts of climate change as a key driver for social vulnerability and a key factor affecting migration, human mobility and displacement in the Arab region. I am realising this through the development of a regionally-tailored methodology for quantifying social vulnerability and displacement risk that can be incorporated into climate risk models for use by decision-makers, in addition to the application of the developed methodology on one study area (hotspot) in a selected Arab country/region.
The risks are connected to access to clean water in severe areas, where conflict is playing a role, and where conflict has a result, such as refugee camps in Levant area, their water budget burden on governments, and how the government can map the needs and make the balance between the supply and demand of water.
What do you see as the key thematic areas for capacity building in your region when it comes to space technologies and water management? Who should be the target group, and what kind of learning would add value to water management?
The three most important thematic areas for capacity-building in the region are: geo-mapping and spatial analysis, water modelling, and best practices for remote irrigation.
The target group needing capacity building in the field of geo-mapping and spatial analysis are water engineers and water network planners. Capacity building will help them to increase efficiency and achieve a fair water distribution, especially in low-income countries. Water network planners, hydrologists, and environmentalists will benefit from training on water modelling, which helps identify the routes of streams and rivers, to avoid pollution reaching groundwater by taking mitigation measures. Finally, farmers and agronomists can benefit from best practices on remote irrigation. These best practices could be used to develop well controlled irrigation systems, with increased water efficiency.