Wednesday, December 19, 2018

URSP Student Abigail Loughlin Investigates the Influence of Conflict, Policy, and American Interventions on the Access to Water in the West Bank in Palestine

Throughout the Fall 2018 semester, I conducted a research study focused on the water quality conditions of the West Bank in Palestine and how these conditions have been shaped by the conflict in the region, the policies in place, and the involvement on the United States.  The project aimed to answer the following questions: how the policies in place regulate water accessibility in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who are the primary actors participating in the creation of water policy, what is the environmental impact of these policies actions, what are the limits and possibilities of these policies, and what is the potential for sustainable development of water infrastructure in the region.By investigating the water regulations in place, as well as U.S. presence in this conflict, this research intended to increase the knowledge on the topic, encourage growth in the field of conflict resolution paired with environmental sustainability, and raise awareness for populations being denied basic necessities. 

I developed this research question with the intention to focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since it has been a topic conversation within my household, as well as within my studies in college while minoring in Middle Eastern studies. I hope that by reframing the conflict as a case of environmental injustice this will help attract a new audience of support which has been absent from the conflict. This project is not only significant to me for the discussions I hope to inspire, but for my own pursuit of knowledge and my desire to create a defensive argument for a region and ethnic group which has been neglected for too long. In my professional career I plan to work with ecologically vulnerable areas and populations, particularly in the Middle East, aspiring to raise environmental awareness and increasing the potential for equal environmental conditions. 

On a weekly basis I have conducted literature reviews of primary and secondary sources, and academic journals, conducted interviews with professionals and academics who have expertise in the conflict, and met with my advisor to help shape and direct the path of my research. My schedule has included developing personalized questions based on expertise and focused on various aspects of the research project, coordinating time meet with those I interviewed, and searching for and analyzing online and print sources. This research project has solidified the direction of my career path to focus on cases of environmental injustice in the Middle East and to continue to study the impact of conflict on the environment. Additionally, it has taught me the importance of investigating the stories of oppressed populations in order to dispel misconceptions and discover the truth.