Freshwater scarcities and desalination: Evidence from Morocco, Spain, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and South India

Gregor Meerganz Von Medeazza

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Direct per capita availability of freshwater resources decreases as world population continues its growth and human activities further intensify. This fact threatens the well-being and ultimately the survival of humanity as a whole. Among the scientific community and dominant political establishment, the belief that knowledge and human ingenuity will ultimately solve water scarcity problems through the efficiency improvement of freshwater production is widely held. In this vision, seawater desalination seems very promising and especially reverse osmosis technologies are increasingly portrayed as a panacea for much of the world’s water woes. However, the cost of such technology in terms of energy and its environmental impacts must be taken into account, together with the different purposes served by desalinated water. The primary aim of this chapter is to question the long-term sustainability of the desalination technology as a solution in tackling the global freshwater crisis. A North-South approach is used to raise certain questions on the significance of scarcity. The issue of water services for tourism is far removed from water scarcities for the Poor: water satisfying luxury or maintaining livelihood? An approach based on the “basic needs†scenario is relevant to address these issues. The city of Laâyoune (Moroccan Sahara), the Canary Island of Lanzarote (Spain), the Gaza Strip (Occupied Palestinian Territories) and the urban slums of Chennai (South India) are taken as case studies to illustrate the different purposes served by the desalination technology: alleviation of scarcity situations where the dominant component are either physical, socially-constructed, politically-constructed or structural. Beyond technological change, this chapter focuses on technological equity as a cornerstone for debate.  © 2008 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesalination Research Progress
Number of pages67
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021

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