The EU has completed the construction of the biggest photovoltaic energy field in Gaza, Palestine, which will fuel the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant.
The Southern Gaza Desalination Plant was funded by the EU and currently provides safe, clean drinking water for 75,000 inhabitants of Gaza. Now powered by the new photovoltaic energy field, and the external investments it is expected to generate, the plant could provide water for more than 250,000 people in Gaza by 2020.
The EU has invested in long-term water infrastructure throughout Palestine, but recent investment efforts have focused on the Gaza strip, where some 97% of water is unfit for human consumption. What is more, Gaza is one of the world’s most populous polities, and ongoing conflict with Israel has caused infrastructure in the region to crumble.
How else is the EU supporting water infrastructure in Palestine?
Since 2006, the European Commission has mobilised €149m from the EU budget to support access to secure, self-sufficient, sustainable and affordable energy, drinking water and sanitation services for all Palestinians. What’s more, these contributions have increased year-on-year, with €21m having already been invested in 2018.
Along with the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant, the EU has contributed €1.5m to support Oxfam in efforts to improve safety and hygiene in 46 existing desalination plants, including 16 public plants and 30 private ones. This effort will serve some 58,000 people in Gaza.
Other projects include improving water networks and the ability of water authorities to detect leaks, to increase efficiency and decrease water network losses throughout Gaza.
What has the EU said about its priorities in Palestine?
European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, responsible for European Neighbourhood Policy, stated that the project would address a number of ongoing infrastructure insecurities in Palestine, and help to stabilise the region in the wake of conflict.
He said: “Limited energy supplies in Gaza are one of the main challenges when improving access to safe and drinkable water to the local population. The photovoltaic solar field is essential to respond to the urgent water needs in Gaza and create dignified living conditions for its people, thus mitigating tensions in a highly conflict sensitive area.”