Towards Better Sanitation Services in Gaza
Monday, Dec 31, 2012 in Office of the Quartet Representative
9th December 2012 Mundhar Shublak, Director-General of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), was joined by German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Mr Dirk Niebel and CMWU’s Chairman of the Board Dr Maged Abu Ramadan to re-open the Sheikh Ajlenn waste-water treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, following completion of badly-needed rehabilitation works.
The plant will serve 650,000 people and is part of the response to one of Gaza’s biggest infrastructure challenges – reliable water and sanitation services.
The current situation in Gaza is dire. Without fully functioning treatment plants operating to modern standards, huge amounts of raw sewage are discharged in the Mediterranean Sea every day. Untreated waste-water pollutes valleys and public spaces and causes serious health hazards.
The Palestinian Water Authority is working with the CMWU to take forward a strategy that foresees the installation and up-scaling of waste-water treatment infrastructure in all parts of the Gaza Strip. In addition to the rehabilitation of the facility in Sheikh Ajleen which was funded by the German government through KfW, a number of works for big-scale treatment plants are planned and on-going, including: East Bureij in central Gaza (funded by Germany); Beit Lahia in the north (funded by the World Bank, France, Belgium and Sweden); and Khan Yunis in the south (with support from UNDP, Japan and the Islamic Development Bank).
OQR has been supporting all of the above mentioned projects after an agreement between Quartet Representative Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu helped to make such sanitation works in Gaza possible. As part of the agreement the Government of Israel committed to facilitate the entry of all necessary construction material and the equipment needed for the sanitation facilities to operate. For Sheikh Ajleen alone, 48,000 tons of cement, steel and other materials were imported to Gaza in more than 1,300 truckloads.
The opening of the Sheikh Ajleen plant is an encouraging signal that the completion of large-scale infrastructure is possible in Gaza despite discouraging circumstances. It is the first major work funded by the international community to have been completed in recent years.