Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations says it’s a mistake for South Africa not to have closer cooperation with his government regarding water sustainability.
Ambassador Danny Danon was speaking at an event to promote Israeli water solutions and innovation at the United Nations in New York as the world organisation observed World Water Day with the launch of the International Decade of Action on Water for Sustainable Development.
Located in a semi arid to arid climate, the country has faced water shortages since its inception. But he describes Israel as a water superpower.
“In Israel, we have a hands on experience and we are willing to share it with the world. We would love to do it in SA, in any other country to share our knowledge, our experience, we proved that we can do it. We can make the desert bloom and we are very proud of it and we are looking forward to share that technology with other countries.”
Israel recycles 90% of its waste-water while 85% of municipal waste water is re-used in agriculture. It’s built five of the world’s largest desalination plants on the Mediterranean Sea providing 60% of the country’s drinking water.
While technological innovation and education has played a key role in its water management, the president of Israel Water Association Ranaan Adin says a basic ingredient is public education.
“From pre-school, children are educated to save water because every drop counts. They talk about water use and savings, write about the life cycle of a drop of water as it goes through the water cycle and even thinks about it, calling the rain to come to irrigate our fields. This results in a water saving society, managing domestic use wisely and respecting water as an ingredient of life.”
As South Africa’s Western Cape suffers through its worst drought on record, political differences have strained cooperation between the two countries.
“I think it is a mistake, when it comes to humanitarian issues, water, agriculture, there should be no political concerns. We all want to support our kids, we want to see them growing. That’s why I think people in SA should bypass all the political concerns and cooperate with Israel for the benefit of the people in SA,” says Danon.
South Africa remains a fierce critic of Israel’s government over what it calls the genuine absence of initiatives to secure a lasting peace and a viable two-state solution with the Palestinians.