Water of the Middle East and North Africa

What Does the Future Hold?

Israel is in the process of degrading its natural freshwater resources through overuse and pollution. The quality and quantity of water in Lake Kinneret, the Jordan River, the Coastal and Mountain Aquifers and other smaller freshwater sources are constantly deteriorating. The degradation of these shared resources affects Israelis but also Palestinians and Jordanians. Looking ahead, the situation is likely to deteriorate further as demand increases with population growth and water availability declines due to the impact of climate change.

The MENA region has historically been water scarce. However, growing demand and poor management of water resources has led Israel to the challenges it faces today. In light of this, the state has invested heavily in developing alternative sources of water, including desalination and reused water, enabling the country to become water secure. Israel currently leads the world in alternative water technology. The state is in the process of developing the resources (land, energy, water network) necessary to provide the majority of potable water from desalination and the majority of agricultural water from effluent. It is the Water Authority’s intention to produce enough water from alternate sources to begin replenishing the natural water resources.

The shared nature of Israel’s water resources poses a particular challenge. In order for water use to become sustainable in the region, transboundary water management must be improved. This is particularly applicable to Palestine, where many people live well below the minimum World Health Organization standards for water quality and quantity (see Fanack Water Palestine file for more information).

Cityscape of Market Neighborhood in Old Nazareth. Photo: Osama Damon.
Cityscape of Market Neighborhood in Old Nazareth. Photo: Osama Damon.


  • Authors:
    1. Dr Clive Lipchin – serves as the director of the Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. He also serves as a faculty member at the Arava Institute where he teaches water resource management in the Middle East.

    2. Daniela Pennycock – is a graduate of the Arava Institute. She co-authored this report as part of her independent study project at the Arava Institute.

  • Peer reviewer:
    Avraham Israeli – is the co-founder and president of the Israel Water Association. As an experienced water, agriculture and environment consultant, he has nearly 30 years’ experience of managing projects in Israel, Asia and South America, among others.