Under the Auspices of H.E Prime Minister Al Hamdallah
Cornerstone Laying for Khan Younis Waste Water Treatment Plant in Gaza
Gaza, 10 February 2015 – Today marked an important step forward for the residents of Khan Younis as they celebrated the cornerstone laying for the construction of Khan Younis Waste Water Treatment Plant in Gaza with officials from the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Government of Japan, Palestinian Water Authority, Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, Khan Younis Municipality and UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.
The implementation, construction and co-financing of the USD 58 million Plant will be through UNDP with funds from the Government of Japan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development through the Islamic Development Bank.
Representing the Palestinian Government of National Consensus, H.E. Dr Mofeed Al-Hasayneh, Minister of Public Works and Housing highlighted the strategic importance of this project in safeguarding the environment and public health. “ The project will prevent the environmental disasters Khan Younis residents are facing, especially that in 2011, four children tragically drowned in a sewage cesspool in Khan Younis,” he said.
The Khan Younis Waste Water Treatment Plant is a strategic environmental project, which aims at protecting public health, water resources and environment of more than 320,000 residents of Khan Younis Governorate.
In addition to developing public and social infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, the project will generate more than 40,000 working days for unemployed Palestinians; contributing to enhancing their livelihoods.
H.E. Junya Matsuura, Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority highlighted that all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are entitled to live in a healthy and clean environment. “Proper management of municipal waste is essential and the Government of Japan is pleased to support this project to avoid negative health and environmental impacts on the well-being of Gaza citizens. The real celebration is when we see the wastewater treatment plant operating on ground and changing the lives of people in Khan Younis, and we believe that UNDP is playing a major role in that,” he added.
Khan Younis Governorate has been suffering from the absence of a wastewater collection system and a functional Waste Water Treatment Plant. Around 70 percent of Khan Younis Governorate is not connected to a sewage network; disposing generated raw sewage through more than 30,000 cesspits and open lagoons, allowing the waste water to filtrate to the water aquifer causing serious water pollution.
The overall project comprises the construction of the first phase of the Khan Younis Waste Water Treatment Plant to serve 217,000 residents in year 2018 at a flow capacity of 26,600 cubic meters per day; complete with its effluent and infiltration schemes to be a comprehensive, functional and operational treatment plant.
“We would like to thank UNDP for implementing such a vital and important project. We also thank the donor governments of Japan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development,” said Dr Maged Abu Ramadan, Chairman of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility. “Coastal Municipalities Water Utility occupies an important role in the establishment of the plant. We are honoured to contribute in the construction of pools of water treatment filtration and establishing a transmission line from the pools to the sea,” he added.
Within the project, more than 9 million cubic meters of treated wastewater will be recharged annually into the local aquifer through constructed infiltration basins. This will provide a new non-conventional water source to be used for agricultural purposes in the eastern parts of Khan Younis.
Mr Rebhi El Shekih, Deputy Head of Palestinian Water Authority, highlighted that the Khan Younis Wastewater Treatment project is becoming a reality after more than 18 years of waiting. “This is one of the strategic components in the water sector, not only addressing environmental threats and public health, but will also providing amounts of treated effluent to be used for irrigation in light of scarcity in water resources in Gaza. The project will be a remarkable progress in the water sector, challenging all obstacles towards development,” he added.
Access to clean water is the foundation for the fulfillment of basic human needs. At present, over 90 percent of the water extracted from the aquifer in Gaza does not meet WHO standards for drinking water.
Addressing the guests gathered on site to inaugurate the project, Mr Frode Mauring, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator stated: “We have to address the environmental challenges Gaza is facing, particularly the water situation. This project is for the people of Gaza. The Plant will provide job opportunities and will ensure that the Gaza population will have adequate livelihoods, attainable standards of health and the right to clean water”.
The cornerstone was symbolically laid on Tuesday 10 February 2015 in the presence of H.E. Dr Mofeed Al-Hasayneh, Minister of Public Works and Housing; H.E. Junya Matsuura, Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority; Mr Yahya Al-Astal, Mayor of Khan Younis; Mr Rebhi El Shekih, Deputy Head of Palestinian Water Authority; Dr Majed Abu Ramadan, Chairman of Board of Directors of Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, and Mr Frode Mauring, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator.
It is worth noting that due to the acute shortage of treatment capacity in the Gaza Strip, 50 - 80 million liters of untreated and partially treated sewage is discharged daily into the sea. This has resulted in the pollution of sea water and marine life; rendering Khan Younis residents living under direct health hazards induced by widely spread water-borne diseases.
Dania Darwish, Communications Specialist, Tel. +972-2-6268229 – e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on UNDP/PAPP see http://www.ps.undp.org.