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EU contributes financial and technical support for Gaza desalination programme

The European Investment Bank is contributing financial and technical support to provide clean drinking water for more than 2 million people in Gaza.

At a high-level pledging conference in Brussels, the EIB has signed a letter of intent confirming its support for the Gaza Desalination Programme. This includes a €7.1m euro technical assistance grant for the Palestinian Water Authority, backed by the European Commission.

Availability of fresh water in the Gaza Strip is amongst the lowest in the world. Currently two million Palestinians in Gaza rely almost exclusively on the coastal aquifer as a source of freshwater.

Only 3% of the water pumped from the aquifer complies with World Health Organization drinking water quality standards. Domestic water demand is projected to increase from 103 million cubic meters (mcm) in 2015 to more than 140 mcm in 2035 based on an expected growth rate of 3.2% of the population.

To find alternative sources of potable water the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) has developed a rolling program of interventions – by 2020, PWA it plans to implement the following:

  • improving the water distribution system,
  • improving agricultural water management,
  • developing wastewater treatment and reuse and
  • Increase supply of bulk water resources (constructing of a central desalination plant)

The project includes:

  • Construction and operation of a seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant of 55 MCM capacity;
  • Installation of an On-site power plant fossil plant and a photovoltaic plant installed on the roofs of the SWRO buildings & Construction of an Off-site power plant consisting of a photovoltaic plant on ground structures and two wind turbines;
  • Construction of a north-south water carrier including storage reservoirs for transport of desalinated water, and for blending the desalinated water with water from other, primarily groundwater sources;
  • A non-revenue water reduction plan, to reduce NRW to about 20% (in the year 2030) and to increase revenue collection efficiency from the current 38% to 80% and beyond.

The EU bank’s contribution is part of the Economic Resilience Initiative (ERI) which is focused on the Western Balkans and Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood, which covers North Africa and the Middle East,

The ERI substantially increases EIB financing in these regions: an extra €6 billion euros in addition to the €7.5 billion euros  already planned to be provided by 2020. To date, 24 projects and €1.9 billion worth of financing have been approved under the new initiative.

EIB Vice-President Dario Scannapieco, who is responsible for the Economic Resilience Initiative, said:

“The technical assistance grant for which we have signed a letter of intent today will be crucial to help the Gaza Desalination Programme enter the implementation phase. The provision of safe and clean water is vital for the more than 2 million people living in Gaza. This will help to improve people’s daily lives, reduce pollution in the Eastern Mediterranean and create local economic development and new employment opportunities.”

The construction of the large-scale desalination plant together with supply and distribution infrastructure has been confirmed by all major stakeholders as the preferred option for Gaza to stabilize the aquifer and secure its water supply.

Other stakeholders in the project are the European Commission, the Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank.

Overall, the total projected cost for the Program is approximately €562.3 million euros, of which € 302.5 million euros is for the desalination facility itself.

The EIB will launch the tendering procedure for the provision of technical assistance on 15 April.

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