Gaza, ALRAY - The world Bank indicated in a report Wednesday that the water sources in Gaza are critically scarce, and the situation in Gaza is alarming, since people will need water, already scarce in the Middle East and North Africa, even more desperately if temperatures rise because of climate change.
Adnan Ghosheh, Senior Water & Sanitation Specialist, remembers a time not so long ago when everyone in Gaza could drink water from their tap.That was in the late 1990s, but so much water has been pumped out of the natural aquifer underneath Gaza since then that seawater has seeped in, making it too salty to drink. These and other factors mean that only 10% of Gaza’s population has access to safe drinking water, compared to 90% in the West Bank or about 85% in MENA in general.
He added raw or poorly treated wastewater, which comes from densely populated areas and refugee camps in Gaza, infiltrates the aquifer or goes to the Mediterranean. As a result, you have a shortage of water coupled with high demand, given the high growth of population now close to two-million.
Regarding the quality and the quantity of water, both are making access to improved drinking water very low. As such, people in Gaza are not able to use the water coming into their houses for drinking; they use it for household ends, but for drinking, they have to rely on trucks. There are some 150 operators who provide some kind of desalinated water that has been filtered to make it acceptable for drinking and for cooking. It’s more expensive and not an improved source of water, according to our definitions of water clean enough to drink.
In the past, Israel used to deliver good quantities of water, but the demand has increased with the population growth, and the volume of freshwater provided by Israel under the 1993 Oslo Accords falls far short of what it needs now. So the quantities from the aquifer and Israel are simply not sufficient for Gaza, although this issue had been raised by numerous studies.
Gosheh said that there were ideas to build a desalination plant, to import water from Egypt or from Israel—transboundary water—and now the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) is pushing for a central desalination plan with the support of the World Bank.
He noted that the World Bank, did development, however, their work in Gaza has also a humanitarian nature because water is a basic need.