SA Organisations

Helping 'create' water for the driest SA in history

  • Water Isla and delegate HOME
Over 500 delegates from 5 SADC countries and a host of SA government departments that either use water tech from Israel, or are considering it, lauded the initiatives of the Holy Land this week at conferences on water technology arranged by the Israeli embassy. Pictured is the Jewish National Fund's SA director Isla Feldman showing something to a delegate. The JNF is the custodian of all Israel's water and has several projects in SA with local government partners.
by ANT KATZ | Jun 08, 2016

No potable water? Let's create some, conferences told

Arid little Israel is a world leader in water technology and has for many years worked with both the private and public sectors in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region - albeit often under the radar.

Water Swazi Minister Jabulile Mashwama

RIGHT: Swaziland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama, 

But 'keeping it quiet' might change after this week. Speaking at the Johannesburg leg of the Israel-South Africa Water Week conference on Monday (the other legs were Cape Town and Durban),

Swaziland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Energy Jabulile Mashwama, ended a talk on the huge assistance Israel has been giving, with these words:

“Swaziland congratulates Israel on this initiative and it must be applauded.”

She paused for effect before ending with two simple and emotive words: “Shalom, shalom.”

Power FM CEO, Andile Khumalo, hosted the morning session and emphasising the growing need for water solutions, told delegates that South Africa in 2015 had experienced its lowest rainfall figures ever. National record-keeping started after the Anglo-Boer War in 1904.


Water -FULL

Keynote speaker Professor Eilon Adar PhD, is a world-leading hydrologist and one of Israel’s leading researchers in water sources, use and technology. He is the director of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research - Picture: ANT KATZ 

Prof Eilon Aida, a world authority on water conservation, told the conference: “If we could solve our water issues in our harsh desert (of Israel), it can be done anywhere!”

Israel has long been co-operating, transferring technology, manufacturing and training private and public sector enterprises in South African and its SADC neighbours. And, given that the region is experiencing its worst water shortage ever, nobody was hiding their faces either.

There is no shortage of water, not even in the Sahara Desert, contended Prof Aida, “only of potable water”. He went on to tell the delegates about Israel’s initiatives to “make” sufficient potable water for themselves, for the Palestinians and even for Jordan.

Water captivated audience

LEFT: Listening intently - the faces of Israel's water-friends in Joburg Monday, old and new 

Israel has managed to do this through conservation, recycling, desalination and even hybrid crop development (they grow olives in brackish, salty water and export olive oil to Italy and Spain.)

Despite having natural water to support 500 000 people at most, and a small amount of agriculture, Israel today supplies sufficient potable water for over 10 million people and all the farming they want to do. In fact, 68 per cent of all potable water in Israel goes to the agricultural sector today, he said.

Today, Israel is famous as a hi-tech capital but, over 70 years ago, they were first having to cut their technological teeth by tackling their water issues. Not yet a state, and still without a name, the pre-independence Jews knew that their biggest vulnerability against the enemies was the lack of potable water.

Israel’s trade consul in South Africa, Itai Melchior, told the delegates that he was proud that the attendees had come from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and other neighbouring states.

Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk said that Israel was prepared to share all of its water technology with SADC countries in their time of need.

They have done it before, but only this time, by the look of who was attending the conferences and whom they were holding one-on-one discussions with, it seems that Israel’s partners are now prepared to engage freely - out of the closet, so to speak.

* Follow our website over the coming days for much more on the week of conferences, the bios of the speakers, links to exhibitors and much more about this whole new world in SA-Israel relations. Next week, we interview the Israeli ambassador and trade consul about how existing relationships had benefited and about any new relationships that had come out of the events.

  • Keynote speaker Professor Eilon Adar PhD, is a world-leading hydrologist and one of Israel’s leading researchers in water sources, use and technology. He is the director of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and serves as an Associate Professor of the BIDR-Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research. He conducts cutting-edge research on complex groundwater flow systems and arid basins. His Mixing Cell Model (MCM) approach utilizing hydrochemistry and environmental isotopes coupled with a flow model has been applied in hydrological basins in Israel and worldwide, from the Kalahari Desert (Namibia) to the Ili basin in Kazakhstan


  1. 5 BDS WORKS 08 Jun
    failed to mention this > North West Premier a “no show” at Israeli Embassy water event:

    also 'no senior South African government official gave legitimacy to the Israel Water Week event'
  2. 4 nat cheiman 08 Jun
    I was of the view that ANC big mouths didn't want anything to do with Israel. 
    Government in concert with BDS recently shot their mouths off about suspending cooperation with Israel. 
    It just goes to show how morally bankrupt and hypocritic the ANC are.
  3. 3 nat cheiman 10 Jun
    BDS works; you and the SA government are the only people in the world that are unconcerned about the scarcity of water globally.
    BDS is getting their butts kicked all over the world as a discriminatory and anti semitic organisation.
    SA is in economic decline because of asinine buffoons like you and the ANC government who because of your small pea brains, don't understand basic economic needs of a country.
    You lot are vacant and frankly, the world is getting tired of you.
  4. 2 Alison Weston 11 Jun
    I am in awe of Israel, her brilliant citizens and if the lousy SA government would open their eyes they could learn so much.  A pox on them.
  5. 1 yitzchak 15 Jun
    For a start the effluent from Guateng to the Hartebeestpoort Dam should be redirected to farmers since it contains enough "fertilizer" to irrigate and fertilize farmers fields alongside the catchment rivers and farmers save on fertilizer.
    Already the best vegetables and fruits come from around Hartbeestpoort dam... check the labels at Woolies.PnP etc.


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