5 REASONS WHY THIS PROJECT IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN 1 The construction of the desalination facility and the conveyance system will substantially address the medium to long-term drinking water needs for 1.6 million people living in the Gaza Strip. 2 The Project will help regenerate the only fresh water source in Gaza, which is the Coastal Aquifer that also runs underneath neighboring countries. 3 The Project will contribute to the political stability of the region through the removal of the water scarcity issue. 4 The Project will be a step towards effective reduction of pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean, as a component of a broader water and wastewater programme including complimentary development of wastewater treatment facilities. 5 The construction of the desalination facility and the conveyance system will offer a substantial opportunity for job creation in the construction and subsequent operation as it would represent the largest infrastructure project to be built to date in Gaza.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION COMMITTED TO PROVIDING A SOLUTION TO THE WATER CRISIS IN GAZA • The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing Technical Assistance for an information memorandum and transaction advice services.
• The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has endorsed the concept of a desalination facility for the Gaza Strip as the only long-term alternative to supply Gaza with drinking water and offered support to the Secretariat for the completion of the technical parameters.
• A core group of international financial institutions are designing a Project Fund mechanism which will manage the financing of the project, including receiving and disbursing funds in a transparent and accountable manner, in accordance to the highest accounting and auditing standards.
• The UfM Secretariat is implementing a fund-raising plan agreed upon with the PWA, which includes coordination with several Arab, European and other potential donor countries and Regional Funds.
Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip Project “The Key Solution for an Intensifying Water Crisis”
95% OF THE WATER IN GAZA UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION The water supply for the Gaza Strip depends almost exclusively on the deteriorating portion of Coastal Aquifer that runs underneath the Gaza Strip and which also extends into the Egyptian Sinai and Israel. However, the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza today pump three times as much (170 Million Cubic Meters/year) as the sustainable recharge (55 MCM/year). Over-pumping of groundwater has led to a significant drop in the aquifer’s water levels, which has resulted in increased salinity of the water, contributing to the overall damage of the trans-boundary aquifer. According to a 2009 World Bank report, 90 to 95% of the water available in Gaza is not fit for human consumption. This emphasises the extraordinary level of humanitarian crisis, including significant impacts on human health, for the population in Gaza.
3 More than 1.6 million men, women, and children will have adequate fresh water to drink and use once the project is completed. 4 The allocation of 31.000 sq. m. of land in southern Gaza by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). 5 The initial facility of 55 MCM will cost an estimated €180 million euros and the water conveyor around €115 million. 6 The establishment of a Project Management Unit and the tendering processes will be undertaken by the first half of 2013. The first phase of the project estimated duration to completion is approximately three years (2014-2017). 7 Additional energy to supply the facility is to be secured through enhanced interconnections with Egypt. The Islamic Development Bank has already allocated the necessary funds ($32.5 million) for this endeavor.
Saline intrusion in the aquifer
Various studies have identified a large-scale seawater desalination plant as the only alternative to ensure the safe and reliable water supply to the Gaza Strip. A recent UNEP report confirmed this view:
7 KEY FACTS ABOUT THIS ESSENTIAL WATER PROJECT 1 Construction of a seawater desalination plant with an initial capacity of 55 million cubic meters (MCM), with a final objective of an overall capacity of 100 MCM.
1 From the Forward to the 2009 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the Environmental As-
sessment of the Gaza Strip by Mr. Achim Steiner UNEP Executive Director
In the framework of as mandate given by the Heads of States of Governments in Paris in 2008, and elaborated by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference of Water in Jordan in 2008, the project contributes to the strategic objectives of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in the water sector. In light of the continuing deterioration of the Coastal Aquifer, this project directly serves the interests of the neighboring countries of Egypt and Israel, under which the aquifer also runs, by contributing to the aquifer recovery. A UfM Water Expert Group Meeting attended by representatives of 22 UfM member countries unanimously and enthusiastically proposed that the Secretariat should submit the Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip to UfM Senior Officials to “label” the project. The Senior Officials representing the 43-member countries of the UfM, at their 22 June 2011 meeting, unanimously “labelled” the Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip as the first UfM project and mandated the Secretariat to support the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) in promoting the project and finding the necessary financial requirement.
“Years of over-abstraction and pollution mean that the sustainability of the Gaza Strip is now in serious doubt unless the aquifer is ‘rested’ and solutions such as improved sanitation and desalination are introduced.” 1
2 Development of a North-South Carrier conveyance system that allows the distribution of freshwater throughout the Gaza Strip and which will also dramatically reduce water losses.
THE FIRST UNION FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN PROJECT
Over-abstraction and an inability to address the problems create saline intrusion and contamination of the groundwater. The salinity levels throughout the aquifer underneath Gaza far exceed the World Health Organization guidelines (250 mg chlorides per litre of Water), and modeling data confirms that the deterioration will continue.
The label of projects by UfM is attributed to projects by a unanimous decision of 43 countries acknowledging that a project is designed to deliver concrete benefits for citizens of the region, and contribute to regional and sub-regional integration. The UfM Secretariat manages the project cycle from identification to the facilitation of funding.