Barcelona-The UfM Delegation held meetings with the President of the Islamic Development Bank, HE Mr Ahmed Ali Mohamed, with the Vice-Chairman and Director General of the Saudi Fund for Development, HE Mr Youssef Al-Bassam, as well as with the Director of Operation of the Kuwait Fund, Mr Fawzi Al-Hunaif, and senior officials from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.
Discussions focused on the water problem in Gaza and the need to build a large-scale desalination plant which is the only long-term solution to address the water deficit in Gaza. The construction of a water desalination facility is expected to alleviate the over pumping of groundwater from the coastal aquifer which underlies the Gaza strip, hence stabilising and regenerating the only fresh water resources in Gaza. It is also expected to have substantial impact in improving public health.
The UfM visit was very positively welcomed by the Arab financing institutions and funds which encouraged the Secretariat in its endeavours to promote this vital project. The UfM is providing support to the promoter of the project, the Palestinian Water Authority, in raising the resources required to finance the project and which could amount to US$ 450 million. Detailed estimations are expected to be provided through the update of the Gaza desalination feasibility study, currently undertaken by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The Gaza Desalination project was the very first project to be labeled by the UfM, with a unanimous decision of the 43 UfM countries. his landmark operation consists in a first phase in the construction of a 55 million cubic meters desalination facility and distribution system in the Gaza strip over two phases. The labeling of this large-scale project, is an acknowledgement that the project is capable of delivering concrete benefits for 1.6 million impoverished Palestinian citizens living on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, not only from humanitarian and health perspectives, but also contributes to job creation and future economic and sustainable development in that highly populated region of the Mediterranean.
In March 2009, more 25 countries had pledged to provide more than 2.5 billion euros for the reconstruction of Gaza at the Sharm El-Sheikh Conference, where the Arab countries pledged more than half the amount.
Commenting on the successful visit to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Dr. Husseini said that “through cooperation between the South and the North of the Mediterranean, we are moving fast towards achieving what was a dream a few years ago, which is – by far- the largest single infrastructural project in Palestine”.