Stockholm, 29 August, 2012 – On the occasion of the World Water Week, held in Stockholm from 26 to 31 August, the UfM and the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), represented by the Minister of Water, Dr. Shaddad Attili, organized a side-event to present the UfM labelled project for a Desalination Facility for the Gaza Strip.
The panel speakers included Mr. Ioannis Kaltsas, from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which provides technical assistance through the preparation of a Project Information Memorandum for encouraging donors; Mr. Henrik Slotte, from the UNEP, which provides consultation and technical assistance on the Environmental issues; Eng. Rebhy El-Sheikh as Deputy Head of the Palestinian Water Authority, who presented the project and the results of the EIB’s review and first phase report; Dr. Husseini, UfM Deputy Secretary General for Environment and Water; and Dr. Attili.
During the panel debate, the speakers underlined that the importance of this project lies not only in the concrete benefits it will bring to a population of 1.65 million people, but it gathers a consortium of Arab, European and non-European donors to cooperate together in achieving such a life giving project. The deteriorating situation of the aquifer has a clear health impact, noting especially Blue Baby Syndrome due to Nitrate poisoning. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recommends that all young children should be provided only bottled water.
The Gaza Desalination Project at the World Water Week: more vital than ever for the Gaza population and the stability of the region’s environment.
The side-event was held just a day after a report was released by the United Nations offices working in Palestine, under the striking interrogating title “Gaza, A liveable place by 2020?” and highlights the longer-term effects and implications of current developmental and social trends and challenges affecting the Gaza Strip. Water remains one of the most alarming aspects in this synthesis report. The reports reminds that the aquifer will be unusable by 2016, and irreversibly damaged by 2020; It stresses the urgency to advance the project, one of the unique infrastructure solutions identified to bring safe drinking water to the growing 1.65 million population and save the restoration of the damaged aquifer, notwithstanding other vital interventions such as wastewater treatment.
The World Water Week
The World Water Week is hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991.