World Water Day 2023: Israel cooperates with Vietnam in water management

WVR - On the occasion of the World Water Day 2023, Mr. Gal Saf, Counselor, Head of Economic and Trade Mission, Israeli Embassy to Vietnam, gave an interview to The World and Vietnam Report.
Israel accompanies Vietnam in effective water management and use
Mr. Gal Saf, Counselor, Head of Economic and Trade Mission, Israeli Embassy to Vietnam. (Source: Israeli Embassy to Vietnam)

World Water Day 2023, themed with “Be the change”, encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water. In your opinion, what does this theme mean to Vietnam?

Israel has long incorporated into its culture a water philosophy with the title “Every drop counts”. For us, as a dry, water-scarce country, it was an integral part of our existence and the base for everything else – agriculture, infrastructure and more.

For Vietnam, this change and angle is coming rather late, as Vietnam traditionally is a land of water abundance and the amount of rivers and lakes can be confusing to the public as to the actual need to be cautious with water consumption.

In Israel, every child knows to close the tap when he brushes teeth or to close even a tap on the street if it’s leaking. When Vietnamese will understand that the water belongs to the public and that if everyone will save water, everyone will benefit from a healthier, more controlled water sources, you will see the change.

Could you explain water management policy or model in Israel which help it overcome water scarcity and climate difficulty?

Israel is a dry country, about 60% of our land is a desert and the remaining water resources are scarce. Moreover, according to studies, Israel is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and will probably face a sever draught period in the next few years. Very early, in the 1950s, we understood that we cannot rely on good years or resources to buy external water, we will have to OWN our own solutions and implement a holistic national water strategy.

This strategy consisted of a combination of governmental and private sector work, to produce regulations, invesemtent in R&D, heavily investment in a national and regional infrastructure and pushing private companies to offer solutions to the market. In that way, Israel is the leading country in the world to desalinate water from the sea, to re-use brackish water and effluents in agriculture and industry and to implement water-saving methods as drip irrigation and water-saving tap add-ons to home use, from the kitchen tap to the shower head.

Israel accompanies Vietnam in effective water management and use
The Sorek desalination plant in Israel. (Source: israel21c)

Israel is a leader in hi-tech water management. Could you please share some experience in water usage and water management technology in Israel?

Israel uses desalination plants, recycled water, and advanced water treatment technologies to ensure safe drinking and other uses. 95% of the wasterwater in Israel are being treated and 86% of it are being reused for Agriculture and Industry. This means that on one hand these sectors get fresh and clean water to use but on the other, do not “waste” drinking water.

Israel built the world's largest desalination plant and 70% of the water Israelis drink are coming from the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, Israeli companies have applied their talent for innovation and lowered the average water loss nationally to 10% in recent years, comparing to around 30% as the global average.

Last but not least, as Israel is always in a state of water shortage, we have the companies that created the technology which is based on a revolutionary concept: harvesting water from the air. The process is simple and efficient, and it can produce at least 800-liters of water per day.

What cooperation has Vietnam and Israel have in water management? What do we need to do to promote further cooperation in this area?

Water efficiency has always been a part of the long-standing cooperation between Vietnam and Israel. We have been working together since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the countries in 1993 to develop innovative solutions to meet the water needs of both countries. Some notable events include bilateral forum of trade cooperation and technology between the two countries. The Memorandum of Understanding of cooperation on water resources development and management between the state of Israel and Mekong River Commission (MRC), helping on capacity building for technical staff of the MRC and its member.

Vietnamese officials regularly travel to Israel to attend short courses on irrigation and water resource management. Israel's water-saving drip irrigation systems and fishery circulation filtration systems funded by Israel have been present at universities in Vietnam for teaching purposes, such as in the Agriculture University of Ho Chi Minh City. In particular, Israeli experts have come to Vietnam to consult for projects related to water resources. Most recently, in November 2022, experts from the Israel Water Authority and British experts discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development a program to support water management in the Mekong Delta.

Moreover, the Israeli Economic and Trade Mission to Vietnam has made several business roadshows and seminars every year in different provinces of Vietnam, as well as helping delegations to visit Israel and Vietnam. In the private sector, the best Israeli water companies have working relations with Vietnamese companies and big agriculture groups to implement Israeli technology in Vietnam.

In order to promote further cooperation between Vietnam and Israel in water management, it is important for both countries to continue to develop joint projects and initiatives that focus on water conservation, reuse, and management. In addition, Israel has some of the most advanced solutions in this fields such as advanced sensors, satellite imagery, and other technologies to monitor water levels and water quality. Most of these are not yet implemented in Vietnam but could assist the country to better manage its water resources and to better respond to floods and droughts.

Israel accompanies Vietnam in effective water management and use
Israeli and Vietnamese experts at the opening ceremony of the water filtration system installed by Israel at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Agriculture and Forestry. (Israel Embassy in Vietnam)

What are Israel's specific water solutions and technologies for water that are applicable in Vietnam's fields of agriculture, production and daily life?

The Israeli Embassy in Vietnam is committed to help the nation’s efforts in improving access to clean water and reduce water scarcity. Our water solutions and technologies can help to improve water quality, reduce water waste, and increase water efficiency. Some of the notable examples are:

- Automated leakage detection and repair systems, which can lower significantly the volume of Non-revenue water (NRW).

-Data Management systems and tools that will help municipalities and organizations not only to have a centered view of their water systems, but will help to make a data-driven decision making and cost-effective infrastructure work in the current system.

- Advanced irrigation systems (for example - Internet of Things (IoT) wireless system) that could reduce not only water usage, but also farm expenses, manpower hours and maintenance costs.

I believe that most of the Israeli solutions are relevant to the ever-growing needs of Vietnam in the water field and I am happy to see more and more cooperation that beind done in recent years between Israelis and Vietnamese.

The Israeli Economic and Trade Mission to Vietnam will continue to support businesses from both countries that want to cooperate and to explore business opportunities.

Thank you!

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(Source: WVR)