The Meaning of Water Scarcity around the Region of the Sea of Galilee, Israel

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Title: The Meaning of Water Scarcity around the Region of the Sea of Galilee, Israel
Author: Tiensuu, Meeri
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Kehitysmaatutkimus
Development Studies
Abstract: This is a qualitative case study that contributes to the discussion of political ecology of water in the region where the water resources are scarce. Empirically, the thesis focuses on the meaning of water scarcity around the region of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. To discuss water scarcity around the Sea of Galilee, this thesis examines the concepts of governance, politics of scale, dimensions of water and environmental justice that are part of wider academic discussion of political ecology. This study collects the experiences and perceptions of local farmers from the Sea of Galilee and reflects these with the relevant aspects in current political ecology discussion. The data of the study consist of individual experiences and narratives of water scarcity in the agricultural sector, collected from Israeli farmers. The ethnographic research consisted of 10 interviews, participant observation and document analysis of news articles, NGO-report, Israeli national water plan and OECD-report of Israeli agriculture. The data was analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis tools, against the theoretical framework of political ecology of water. The findings of this study demonstrate that water scarcity is a multi-scalar phenomenon that is both natural and human-made. Water scarcity needs to be examined from various perspectives that are interconnected as well as overlapping. Through analysis, the thesis demonstrates that the role of agriculture had and still has an important meaning for nation-building in Israel. The thesis also demonstrates that water governance is a complex process that includes several actors and where the power structures create dynamic imbalances. Water governance in Israel is shaped by institutions and legal framework, cultural values, historical development, technologies and physical access to water. The result of the thesis adds understanding to the challenges of water scarcity in contemporary world where power asymmetries are constantly present. Conflicts over water and water scarcity are already seen in globalized world and therefore the findings of this thesis opens further dimensions to study water-related challenges in areas where water scarcity is witnessed.
Subject: Israel
political ecology
Sea of Galilee

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