The sociopolitical factors impacting the adoption and proliferation of desalination: A critical review

Yazan Ibrahim, Roqaya A. Ismail, Adetola Ogungbenro, Tom Pankratz, Fawzi Banat, Hassan A. Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The globally recurring droughts, day-zero scenarios and the lack of resiliency of traditional water resources to climate change has led to an increased dependence on desalination as a more robust alternative. However, the adoption and proliferation of desalination are strongly affected by a plethora of often overlooked socio-political factors. These factors have received far less attention in the scientific literature than technical, economic, and environmental factors, despite the fact that they were mainly behind the success or failure of a significant number of desalination projects worldwide. In this review, we conducted a thorough and critical accounting, classification and discussion of 15 social and/or political factors with a direct impact on the adoption and proliferation of desalination technologies. We thoroughly examined the evidence we found in the literature pertaining to these factors vis-à-vis their relevance to desalination. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis approach was employed mainly to categorize the factors considered. Multiple examples from various countries were presented to enrich and support the discussion. An additional outcome of this review was the proposal of a path forward for future work on the quantification and creation of decision-support tools that are directly related to the socio-political aspect of desalination.

Original languageBritish English
Article number114798
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • Critical review
  • Desalination
  • Sociopolitical factors
  • Sustainability
  • SWOT analysis


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