More than 97 per cent of water in Gaza Strip, home for more than 2 million residents living under strict Israeli siege for 11 years, is undrinkable, UN data has revealed.
Robert Piper, the United Nations’ local coordinator for humanitarian and development activities, said that large-scale water and energy projects are urgently needed for Gaza.
“We are falling far behind the demand for clean drinking water for Gazans. The situation today is really very serious,” he said.
Such information was revealed in the wake of opening the second desalination plant in the Gaza Strip. “This is one step forward on a very big journey and we need to have a lot more projects like this,” Piper stressed.
Conditions have greatly deteriorated over the past decade since Hamas, a moderate Islamic Palestinian movement that won free Palestinian elections in 2006, took power.
Since then, mid-2007, Israel launched three major offensives on Gaza, resulting in heavy damage to Gaza’s infrastructure, and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade has slowed reconstruction efforts.
The three offensives also resulted in the death of about 5,000 Palestinian citizens in Gaza, wounded more than 30,000 and destroyed partially or completely more than 200,000 homes and other facilities.
“Despite the small production, this desalination plant gives symbolism to Gaza residents that the train of water solution is now on track,” said Monzer Shublaq, director of Coastal Municipalities Water Utility in Gaza.
The plant will initially produce 6,000 cubic meters of water a day, a small fraction of Gaza’s needs. In all, the population uses 150,000 cubic meters a day, most of it from a depleted coastal aquifer.
In addition to the Israeli-Egyptian siege on Gaza, other obstacles have included chronic electricity shortages and concerns that the plant could be hit if there is new Israeli offensive on Gaza.