World Bank approves $6.4mn grant for Gaza

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
[PHOTO: Rjgalindo / CC BY 3.0] 
Washington: A US$6.4 million grant to improve and expand coverage of water and sewage services in Gaza has been approved by the World Bank Group Board of Directors. The Gaza Water Supply and Sewage Systems Improvement Project will finance the rehabilitation and expansion of existing water and wastewater systems and enhance the capacity to provide and maintain water and sewage services.

Gaza citizens depend heavily on underground resources for their water supply. Though the only significant available source, groundwater is over utilized and badly contaminated. The over-drafting of the sole aquifer is causing a decline of the groundwater table and a deterioration of water quality. Moreover, most sewage is returned to lagoons, wadis and the sea. The area is now choked with untreated sewage threatening Palestinian health and life, as well as remaining water resources and the environment.

“We are concerned about the lack of clean water supply and the deterioration in the quality of water resources in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas on earth,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “The new project is very important to Gaza citizens. Not only will it increase the sustainability of water and sewage networks, but it will also allow the utility to better serve the needs of their customers.”

The World Bank has had a longstanding focus on water and sanitation in its program for West Bank and Gaza and is stepping in now to help address the critical deterioration of the Gaza water system. 

“As part of the Bank strategy for the West Bank and Gaza to support local institutions, the project will provide technical and operational assistance so that water and sewage services may be more efficiently managed," said Iyad Rammal, Senior World Bank Infrastructure Specialist.

The project will fund the construction of water tanks to collect and blend water from different sources in order improve the quality and efficiency of Gaza water supply and wastewater services. In addition, major well fields supplying the middle and southern governorates will be connected. The project will also rehabilitate water distribution networks and water wells. Along with helping the utility improve water collection and reduce system losses, the project will also support more efficient billing and enhanced customer services. A strategic partnership with the Islamic Development Bank will allow a contribution of US$11.14 million in parallel financing to the project.
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