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16 April 2009
Water Sector Infrastructure: Damage Assessment
Water and wastewater services have suffered significantly during the most recent Israeli military operation in Gaza during December 27 to January 24. This has severely affected the lives of the people of Gaza and added to their suffering. Damages were incurred to a wide range of facilities and impacted almost all types of water and wastewater facilities. This includes damage to water and wastewater pipes and pump stations; water production wells and storage reservoirs; wastewater treatment plants; electrical control panels; electricity supplies; administrative and operation buildings and stores; and utility vehicle and trucks. In addition, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) reported that three of its operators were killed while they were trying to maintain the continuity of water services.
The CMWU is responsible for the delivery of water and wastewater services for the entire population of Gaza. Despite the security situation, the CMWU did not spare any efforts to resume services to the people of Gaza during the crisis. The CMWU management was in direct contact with all active humanitarian organizations in Gaza. In a few instances, the CMWU managed to maintain proper coordination with the Israeli military needed to fix some damages as well as supply the needed fuel to operate the diesel generator sets which run the pumps as most areas in Gaza suffered from electricity outages for many hours and in some places several days. The ongoing Gaza Emergency Water Project (GEWP) financed by the World Bank has played a crucial role in enabling the CMWU to operate efficiently and effectively finance all emergency interventions to maintain services. More severe damages still require concerted efforts, resources, and time to bring the systems back to their original condition. The CMWU and the World Bank have worked closely to conduct the damage assessment.
As the military operation ended and the cease-fire was put in place, the CMWU led the damage assessment survey in cooperation with the Palestinian Water Authority. The World Bank furnished technical support to the CMWU and sent a short mission to Gaza to assist the CMWU in developing a comprehensive Damage Assessment survey which was published a week after the cease-fire. Aiming for stronger partnerships, The CMWU and the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) engaged all donors and humanitarian organizations in coordinating the efforts to finance the Recovery Plan. The plan was shared with donors through the Water and Sanitation Hygiene cluster (WASH) and the Water and Sanitation (WatSan) donors' network. While many organizations like UNICEF and ICRC allocated emergency budgets for immediate repairs, the CMWU relies heavily on the GEWP and its additional finance (World Bank finance) in order to repair damages in the incursion areas. The Damage Assessment estimated the need for about US$6.0 million to carry out repairs and reconstruction of damaged water and wastewater works. This can be itemized as illustrated below.
Following the damage assessment, the CMWU has developed a Recovery Plan which is composed of the (1) fast track for emergency repairs which has been conducted immediately following the cease fire, (2) intermediate track to rehabilitate partially damaged works and (3) long- term track to reconstruct works in the completely destroyed areas. While the intermediate track works are in planning stages, the long-term track will not start before the rubble removal and the reconstruction of the destroyed houses is completed. This will take several years. World Bank finance of all tracks is crucial. In fact, World Bank funds through the ongoing projects like the Gaza Emergency Water Project and the Northern Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment project are being mobilized to respond to the recovery plan needs. Additional financing will be needed and the donor community funds are needed to supplement the Bank financing.