The response to increasing strains on water resources from population growth, globalization, economic growth, urbanization, inequalities of and conflicts over shared transboundary resources, has led to an analysis of the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus and its role in development approaches for communities. The FEW Nexus concept developed because these life-sustaining sources - food, energy, and water, are inextricably linked and constitute essential human rights. Using this as a framework, a more systematic analysis of interactions between human activities and their environment can be determined, with the purpose of working towards coordinated management on local, national and international levels. Addressing the FEW Nexus in an integrated approach is crucial in conflict zones with shared environmental resources. In arid zones especially, access and management of FEW resources can positively impact community development.
The FEW Nexus analyzes the relationship that these resources have with the economic, social, and political health of communities. In specific regions of the Middle East, the FEW Nexus is used as a conflict mitigation strategy in respect to transboundary environmental management and resource availability. The FEW issues faced by Israel, Palestine and Jordan represent a unique opportunity to develop community-based methods, strategies, technologies, and innovative resource management models to increase community resilience and ensure the sustainability of FEW systems and the agricultural productivity in the region.
The Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel is implementing an off grid FEW Nexus approach addressing the need for conflict mitigation relating to transboundary environmental management. The project specifically implements on-site, off-grid solutions for communities lacking access to centralized water, wastewater and energy infrastructure. The project includes greywater treatment and reuse systems; renewable energy, hydroponics micro-systems, and more. Work is being carried out in Palestinian communities in the West Bank, Jordanian farms in the Jordan Valley and Bedouin communities in Israel’s Negev Desert. Lessons learned in the Middle East can be used in addressing challenges in other arid regions of the world such as Native American communities in Arizona and New Mexico.