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Ground-truthing water demand models
Q&A: Stephanie Galaitsi on water insecurity on the Palestinian West Bank
When people can't count on getting water when they need it, a study finds, they tend to hoard it, even if prices are so high that they would normally discourage consumption.
As an undergraduate history major, Stephanie Galaitsi developed a deep interest in the Middle East. While studying for her M.S. in water resources engineering, with the support of SEI Senior Scientist Annette Huber-Lee, one of her professors, she spent two summers conducting her thesis research in Palestine. There she worked with the Palestinian Water Authority to survey households, and analyzed the results together with data from remote sensing.
The work has now been published in the journal Water International. Galaitsi answered questions about her field research and analysis.
Q: How do people on the Palestinian West Bank get their water?
Q: How much water insecurity do these people face?
Q: How does water insecurity alter people's water consumption?
Q: From a modeling perspective, how big a difference does it make to include water insecurity as a variable in predicting demand?
Q: What lessons does this work provide that could be further built on in research on Palestine, and more broadly around the world?
My large-scale conclusion is that governance, psychology, perceptions of power, respect and human dignity have to be incorporated into studies about behavior. I wanted to study the relationship between price and water demand, and I learned I couldn't do it, not well, without incorporating the political factors that could break that relationship down.
Q: How do you solve the problem of water insecurity?