Domestic Water Vulnerability Mapping in the West Bank / Occupied Palestinian Territory

Posted in 2009 Papers

Due to its average annual rainfall, coupled with regional water resources from the Jordan River and groundwater from its Aquifer System, the West Bank is generally not considered to be a water-poor region. However, since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Palestinians have been routinely denied their rights to utilize their own water resources from the Jordan River. Moreover, presently more than 80% of the annual safe yield of the Palestinian water from the West Bank’s Aquifer systems is used by Israel to meet 25% of Israel’s water needs. This has culminated in a constant prevention of access to their own water resources.
A combination of physical, political and socio-economic factors threaten Palestinian access to a clean and reliable groundwater supply. These include inconsistent rainfall, water table lowering and increase in salinity levels due to over-abstraction, pollution from agrochemicals, solid waste and wastewater dumping (including from the Israeli settlers, illegally living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). An unstable socio-economic situation also threatens the affordability of water. Israeli practices such as road blocks, checkpoints, and the segregation wall have severely affected Palestinians access and control over their own water resources’. While there is ample physical, economic, social and political data available on water issues and problems in the (OPT), there still exist a lack of a detailed assessment of the combined effects of different factors on the accessibility of water in the region. Also, as all of these factors are constantly evolving, it is vital to develop an ongoing monitoring system of the Palestinian water situation.
The state of Domestic Water Vulnerability in the West Bank is assessed through the calculation and mapping of a Water Poverty Index (WPI). The WPI uses an index structure to combine data on physical availability of water, socio-economic, and political factors that limit its access. This provides not only an overall synopsis of the effects of these different factors but also a detailed analysis of each individual factors role in the accessibility of water.
The results provided by the index produce a simple, reliable, and progressive tool for comparison between different regions over a specific timescale. Thus, the WPI can serve as a monitoring tool or as a model to calculate water scenarios by altering the value of the single indicators based on future environmental, political, social or economic projections. Our work draws on the work of the WPI initiated by Catherine Sullivan at the Wallingford Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. It will endeavor to refine the tool of water poverty mapping, by combining an overall assessment with a detailed analysis of the different factors and their respective importance in creating Water Vulnerability.

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