- Title: Gaza's water shortage worsening, no easy solutions seen
- Date: 26th January 2017
- Summary: KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA (JANUARY 22, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CHILDREN FILLING WATER CONTAINERS CHILDREN FILLING CONTAINERS WITH DRINKING WATER CHILD DRINKING WATER FROM WATER TAP VARIOUS OF MEN FILLING WATER IN CONTAINERS RESIDENT OF KHAN YOUNIS, MARWAN AN-NAJAR, FILLING CONTAINERS WITH WATER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF KHAN YOUNIS, MARWAN AN-NAJAR, SAYING: "The water is salty as if we were getting it from the sea. They are not giving us water. The municipality gave us water but it was also salty. We have stopped drinking it and we come and drink from here (water taps)." CHILDREN FILLING CONTAINERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF KHAN YOUNIS, MARWAN AN-NAJAR, SAYING: "I used to buy a 1,000 litre for 20 shekels ($5.2), I have no money now so I am forced to fill in from here, what should I do? I want to bring water so my children can drink." AN-NAJAR LEAVING ON CART RESIDENT OF KHAN YOUNIS, FATHY MHAREB, FILLING CONTAINERS WITH WATER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RESIDENT OF KHAN YOUNIS, FATHY MHAREB, SAYING: "For ten days, we have been getting the water once every three days, or once every four days. It is not even fit for agriculture or anything else. We only use it to shower, laundry and washing the dishes. This is only what we are using it for." CHILDREN MOVING WATER CONTAINERS CHILD MOVING WATER CONTAINERS ON TROLLEY GAZA CITY, GAZA (JANUARY 22, 2017) (REUTERS) OFFICIALS DURING THE INAUGURATION OF NEW DESALINATION PLANT OFFICIALS IN TOUR AT DESALINATION PLANT VARIOUS OF MACHINES MAN FILLING DESALINATED WATER IN CUP EXTERIOR OF PALESTINIAN WATER AUTHORITY DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE PALESTINIAN WATER AUTHORITY, REBHY AL-SHEIKH, SPEAKING TO REPORTER AL-SHEIKH ON HIS DESK (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE PALESTINIAN WATER AUTHORITY, REBHY AL-SHEIKH, SAYING: "There is a drop down, a continuous drop down in the water table and invasion of the sea water and deterioration in terms of salinity and also there is a deterioration because of the contamination of nitrates due to the absence of complete waste water treatment processes in Gaza." DEIR ALBALAH, GAZA (JANUARY 24, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PIPES AT DESALINATION FACILITY VARIOUS OF MACHINES AND PIPES WATER AND SANITATION SPECIALIST AT UNICEF, MOHANLAL PEIRIS, SPEAKING TO REPORTER POSTER OF PROJECT (SOUNDBITE) (English) WATER AND SANITATION SPECIALIST AT UNICEF, MOHANLAL PEIRIS, SAYING: "The health implications are really to children and this is why the UNICEF is very concerned about small babies and children, so otherwise it is more of a matter of taste, it's unpalatable, really you cannot drink it, the salty water. There is no major impact you get from salty water but of course contaminated water - that gives problems." KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA (JANUARY 23, 2017) (REUTERS) WATER TANKS OVER ROOF TOPS CHILDREN WALKING NEAR HOUSE WITH WATER TANKS VARIOUS OF WATER TANKS IN FRONT OF BUILDING
- Embargoed: 9th February 2017 12:40
- Keywords: Gaza Israel Egypt Water Contamination Crisis
- Location: KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA CITY, DEIR ALBALAH, GAZA
- City: KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA CITY, DEIR ALBALAH, GAZA
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA00160PUT6V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Marwan An-Najar, a Palestinian from the south of the Gaza Strip, says he has not tasted sweet tap water in 10 years. Every day, he travels four kilometres (2.5 miles) to fill a 20-litre plastic jerrycan at a local desalination station.
Gaza has long suffered severe water problems, with its aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater and the territory's three desalination plants unable to meet demand. To drink, most citizens depend on imported, bottled water.
"The (tap) water is salty, as if it came straight from the sea. We have stopped drinking it," said Najar, a father of six, while queuing to get water at the desalination station in Khan Younis.
Instead, he and others use the desalinated water to wash and drink, while those that can afford it buy bottled water. The water from the tap, when it flows, is barely usable, they say.
"It is not even fit for agriculture," said Fathy Mhareb, 60, an unemployed father of eight. "We only use it to shower, laundry and washing the dishes," he said.
Locals and development specialists say the situation is getting beyond dire, with more than 90 percent of the water in the aquifer unfit for domestic use, according to Rebhy Al-Sheikh, the deputy chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority.
The causes of the problem are multiple, but stem largely from the contamination of the aquifer.
Gaza's main water source contains 55 to 60 million cubic metres of water over the course of a year, but demand from Gaza's two million population exceeds 200 million cubic metres.
That means the aquifer is over-strained, allowing seawater from the Mediterranean to seep into it, along with sewage and chemical run-off.
"There is a continuous drop down and invasion of sea water," said Sheikh, mentioning too the high nitrate content.
In a study published in 2012, the United Nations said Gaza would become unlivable by 2020 and its aquifer unusable by 2016. Sheikh said that was almost the case -- according to international standards, the aquifer is 96.5 percent unusable.
The situation isn't helped by desperate Gazans trying to tap into the underground reserve via homemade wells. Others use home-spun techniques to desalinate water and sell it on the streets, but the water remains contaminated, Sheikh said.
One solution has been buying more water from Israel, which has vast desalination capacities. But it took the Palestinians 20 years of negotiation -- from 1995 to 2015 -- to secure the purchase of just five million more cubic metres.
The blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt for most of the past decade also makes it difficult to push ahead rapidly with major projects such as new desalination facilities.
A 10-million-euro, EU-funded desalination plant was opened by the European Union and the United Nations Children's Fund last week. Mohanlal Peiris, a water and sanitation specialist with UNICEF who voiced concern especially for the enclave's population of children and babies, said the facility, which blends water with that from the municipality, would eventually serve 75,000 people.
The big hope is that a large-scale desalination plant, costing 500 million Euros ($535 million), can be built to get ahead of the rising demand. Plans are in the works, but it remains years off.
For now, two of Gaza's three desalination facilities are functioning, producing just 8,600 cubic metres of water a day.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None