The World Bank has announced a $10-15 Million USD grant for desalination in Gaza, Palestine. This funding, announced 10 February, will supplement funds already committed by the Partnership for Infrastructure Development in parallel with financing from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The total project funding now exceeds $115 Million USD.
The new project will improve the quality and quantity of water in Gaza where over-pumping of the coastal aquifer has led to lower groundwater levels with consequent intrusion of salinity from seawater. In addition, Gaza’s freshwater supply has also been contaminated by inflow of raw sewage.
“The Gaza ground water aquifer is rapidly deteriorating in both quantity and quality with 97% of the available water undrinkable for the rapidly growing population in the Gaza strip,” said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza in a press release. “Hence we are embarking on this much needed and coordinated effort with our donor partners to increase and provide a more stable supply of safe water to Gazan families,” he added.
The project will support fresh water needs of approximately 870,000 people in 16 municipalities in the southern and middle governorates through the construction and rehabilitation of necessary infrastructure.
The full programme includes interim measures to meet immediate needs through the construction of short-term desalination plants. The longer-term needs will be met via a new 55 MCM per year desalination plant that could also be expanded if necessary. The plans also includes construction of a south water carrier, including storage reservoirs to convey and blend desal water with groundwater sources and fresh water purchased from Israel's national water company Mekorot.