World Bank Supports Improving Sanitation Services in Gaza to Address Health Issues and Water Pollution

April 14, 2014

Washington, April 14, 2014 – Two projects in the Gaza Strip will respond to health and environmental threats and provide long-term solutions to the treatment of sewage and solid waste.  The US$13 million grants by the World Bank are focused on improving sanitation services in the Gaza Strip, a development priority in the densely populated area facing severe public health and water pollution threats.

Several residential areas have been recurrently flooded with raw sewage causing property damage, injuries and deaths. Illegal dumping and burning of waste are common practices across rural and urban areas causing soil, air and water pollution as well as health hazard,” said Steen Jorgensen, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are entitled to live in a healthy and clean environment. Proper management of municipal waste is a priority that the World Bank is supporting to avoid negative health and environmental impacts on the well-being of Gaza citizens.”  

The US$10 million grant for the Gaza Solid Waste Management Project approved by the Bank on March 31, 2014, aims to improve the solid waste disposal in the Gaza governorates through the provision of an efficient, socially acceptable and environmentally friendly mechanism. It will promote citizen engagement towards more accountability through awareness campaigns and the use of social media including text messaging and interactive website. The new landfill facility will be located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and will serve about half of the population, in the Middle and Southern Governorates. The grant will compliment about US$25 million in financial contributions from the Palestinian Authority, participating municipalities and several donors including the European Union, the French Development Agency, Sweden, Japan and the Islamic Development Bank.

The rapid population growth in the Gaza Strip coupled with the deteriorating municipal financial and technical capacities to manage the generated waste in a sanitary manner have encouraged illegal dumping and burning of waste,” said Ibrahim Dajani, World Bank Senior Operations Officer. “The project will establish a solid waste management system and strengthen institutional capacity to manage the sector efficiently. It will also promote private sector partnerships and generate jobs for waste pickers and their families.”

The US$3 million grant to the North Gaza Wastewater Treatment Project, approved by the Bank on April 10, 2014, is in line with the Bank’s commitment to provide a sustainable solution to managing wastewater in North Gaza. Despite the significant challenges associated with a large scale infrastructure project in a conflict affected area, the World Bank is committed to the construction of a modern wastewater treatment plant and the development of a reuse program to irrigate surrounding fields with safely treated effluent. With this new grant, the World Bank’s total contribution towards the project amounts to US$29.8 million in addition to US$7.5 million in supplemental co-financing.

The collapse of sewage ponds at the overloaded Beit Lahiya wastewater treatment plant in northern Gaza in 2007 raised critical questions about the long-term viability of water management systems in the Gaza Strip,” said Richard Pollard, World Bank Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist. The groundwater is alarmingly contaminated by leaked sewage. While the project was developed as a response to an emergency acute public health and environmental crisis, the new grant aims to ensure the long term sustainability of the facility, the recovery of about 15,000 M3/day of treated wastewater and development of the needed institutional capacity to manage, operate, and maintain the treatment plant.” 

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