WASHINGTON — The World Bank approved this week a grant of US$7.8 million to the Palestinian Authority to deal with the impending public health, safety, and environmental hazards stemming from the lack of proper treatment of wastewater in North Gaza.
The North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment project is the fourth in a series of water and sanitation projects supported by the World Bank Trust Fund for Gaza and West Bank since 1993.
Although 64 percent of the wastewater is collected in Gaza, most of it is not properly treated, contributing significantly to contamination of the coastal aquifer and seashore, including beaches. In response to this problem, the North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment project will help in addressing the immediate and impending health, environmental and safety hazards to the communities near the poorly-treated and rapidly growing sewage lake in the Beit Lahia area of North Gaza.
The project will also be part of a long-term solution for the adequate treatment and disposal of wastewater in North Gaza, which entails the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant expected to be financed by various donors. Approximately 300,000 people living in North Gaza will benefit from this project.
By protecting the groundwater from contamination by poorly treated sewage and ensuring the aquifer is recharged with water that is properly treated, the project will increase the volume of good quality water and lower medical costs associated with the treatment of water-borne diseases. In addition, the construction of a new treatment plant is expected to generate substantial job opportunities and help boost the local economy.
“Positive collaboration among various donors was a key factor in putting this project together to avert a potential human and environmental disaster in Beit Lahia, Moreover, continued donor collaboration and close coordination with the Israelis are key factors to achieving the project objectives,” said Suhail J. S. Jme’an, Task Team Leader and Senior Financial Analyst.
This project falls in line with the World Bank’s strategy for the West Bank and Gaza, which provides emergency assistance to the Palestinian population while retaining a strong focus on building the economic assets and institutions.