- The Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno Bau, and the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Nasser Kamel, met today to discuss the progress of the Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip project, with the Palestinian Minister of Water, Mazen Ghunaim, in a virtual meeting.
- During the meeting, Spain unveils 1 Million euros of financing for the construction of a Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip
- The desalination plant will supply drinking water to 2 million Palestinian inhabitants, thereby ensuring a sustainable solution for the chronic and longstanding water shortage and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where over 95% of the water is not drinkable due to the over-pumping of a polluted Coastal Aquifer.
- UfM Secretary General welcomes Spain’s commitment to the Mediterranean region and to the UfM Secretariat.
Barcelona, 25 June 2020. As part of a “virtual trip” to Palestine held this week, the Secretary of State for International Cooperation of Spain, Ángeles Moreno Bau, met online with the UfM Secretary General, Nasser Kamel, and the Palestinian Minister of Water, Mazen Ghoneim. They discussed Spain’s support to the construction of a desalination plant project to supply water to 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. During the call, Spain announced a financial contribution of EUR 1 million to this vital project.
UfM Secretary General Kamel highlighted that: “This flagship project was the first one to be endorsed by the Union for the Mediterranean. Spain’s support takes us a step closer to make it a reality on the ground, improve the living conditions in the Gaza Strip and remove obstacles to economic development and job creation while contributing at the same time to the regeneration and sustainability of the coastal aquifer.”
This landmark operation will be the largest infrastructure project ever built in the Gaza Strip. It consists of three integrated projects: the construction of a 55 million-m3 desalination Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) plant, a North-South conveyance system and a Non-Revenue Water reduction project, as well as an associated solar power energy plant. The project is now ready for implementation since all significant milestones in all the preparatory stages have been completed, including on governance, completion of the required feasibility studies, as well as solutions for the energy supply and the financial mechanism for donor contributions. With the support of Spain and the rest of international donors, the contract to start the construction works will be awarded this year.
Palestine Minister of Water, Mazen Ghunaim declared that: “The Palestinian government is determined to implement this vital Desalination Facility in Gaza, following the outstanding support of the UfM and the Spanish government, in order to provide people with hopes and basic needs. The provision of safe water for all is essential to protect human health.”
The availability of fresh water in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places in the planet, is among the lowest in the world. Currently, 2 million Palestinians in Gaza rely almost exclusively on the coastal aquifer as the only source of freshwater in the region, which is inadequate to meet demand from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Only 3% of the water pumped from the aquifer and consumed by an ever-increasing population complies with the World Health Organization drinking water quality standards.
In addition to the project’s endowment, and coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Process, Spain announced a contribution of 500,000 euros to the Union for the Mediterranean. “The UfM welcomes this financial support that speaks of Spain’s strong commitment to the Mediterranean region and it’s ambition to drive positive agendas in key areas of cooperation, in view of promoting human and sustainable development” declared the UfM Secretary General.