Water is a scarce resource in the Middle East. The European Union (EU) is now expanding the funding of programmes in this sector, which KfW is implementing on behalf of the German Federal Government. In the Palestinian Territories, the aim is to improve the quality of drinking water, which the EU is supporting with EUR 9 million. In Jordan, the EU is contributing EUR 25 million to improve sewage disposal. The mandate contracts have just been signed.
Drinking water is more rare in Gaza than anywhere else in the world. Although all households in Gaza City are connected to the drinking water network, only 30 percent of them receive water for at least an hour every day. Fifteen per cent receive tap water less than ten days a month. Moreover, the water from the pipes is of very poor quality and does not meet the standards of the World Health Organisation. This is because Gaza's two million inhabitants are supplied almost exclusively from a groundwater reservoir on the coast, which is filled by rainwater. But in the last five years, precipitations have dropped by an average of one-fifth to one-third. The groundwater level has fallen and seawater has entered the reservoir. The drinking water that is fed into Gaza's pipes is therefore heavily salinated. A fifth of the wells also produce water with a high nitrate content due to contamination with urban and agricultural wastewater. The supplies of the groundwater reservoir will not be sufficient for a growing population.
In the Palestinian Territories, the aim is to improve the quality of drinking water, which the EU is supporting with EUR 9 million
Poor and expensive water
A large proportion of Gaza City residents buy water that has been treated in private desalination plants, but has very low mineral content and is prone to contamination. This water is of poor quality but very expensive, with the majority of people in Gaza being poor anyway.
EU supports construction of a water reservoir
On behalf of the German government, KfW is financing a project to improve the drinking water supply in Gaza. It aims to mix the existing, highly saline water with pure water until sufficient quality is achieved. The infrastructure for distributing the water is also being renewed. The EU is now supporting this existing project by providing funding of EUR 9 million to provide further storage capacity for the additional long-distance water coming from Israel in northern Gaza. In Al Montar, there is a connection point to the Israeli long-distance water pipeline, through which a total of ten million cubic metres of water per year will be transported. Clean water from this source and from a small-volume desalination plant is to be mixed with brackish water from the groundwater reservoir until it reaches drinking water quality. The chlorine and nitrate content will be reduced by this process.
In Jordan, the EU is contributing EUR 25 million to improve sewage disposal
The EU funds will be used to build a reservoir with a capacity of 26,400 cubic metres in which the water will be mixed and treated, as well as pipelines between the connection point to the Israeli network and the reservoir, and from the latter to the existing distribution networks. This will benefit more than one million residents of the northern Gaza Strip, who will receive a regular supply of safe water once the measures are completed. The currently very difficult living conditions in the Gaza Strip will be improved. The resources of the groundwater reservoir will be conserved.
Improved sanitation in Jordan
While in the Gaza Strip the focus is on the supply of drinking water, in Jordan the regulated disposal of wastewater, which puts an additional strain on the scarce groundwater resources, is a challenge. KfW is financing a comprehensive programme there on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to expand the sewage network in parts of Amman and to extend existing, overloaded sewage treatment plants. Currently, the sewage sludge of the city of Amman is not stored properly, which causes high carbon dioxide emissions and threatens to contaminate scarce groundwater resources. Here, the EU is contributing EUR 25 million to expand the sewage network in southern Amman and connect it to an existing treatment plant. In addition, sludge storage will be expanded at the As Samra treatment plant, which will also receive a gas collector for energy recovery.
The measures will benefit a total of 100,000 people in the southern districts of Amman, but indirectly improve the situation for half a million people in the surrounding area through improved wastewater treatment and groundwater protection. Furthermore, farmers in the north of Jordan will receive an increased amount of treated wastewater to irrigate their fields.