Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) called for the need to find radical solutions to the energy crisis in the Gaza Strip, as well as the need for all parties to shoulder their responsibilities towards the problem of lack of fuel for running of the generators for desalination plants and sewage treatment
PNGO warned against serious impacts of the energy shortage in the Gaza Strip on the health and environment reality in the Gaza Strip, especially as winter approaches with the risks of flooding in some areas as long as the situation remains the same.
These statements were made during a field tour organized by the Agricultural Sector of the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) to the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Wadi Gaza (Gaza Valley) and Seawater Desalination Plant in Deir al Balah. The tour is a part of the project activities “Enhance Civil Society Capacity to Work for Democratic Independence in Palestine” in Partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
Representatives of civil and international organizations as well as experts and journalists participated in the field trip to find out the serious impacts of the fuel shortage on the water sector, especially the effects of dumping sewage water directly into the sea, and water outage from the population for several days
Director of PNGO, Mr. Amjad Shawa, said that this the field visit aims to highlight the severe impact of the shortage of fuel on the different sectors, especially the water sector as an essential element of life.
He pointed that the current situation of the water sector is a real disaster and its continuation threatens greater risks to human life, especially as winter approaches, when threats of flooding of rainwater mixed with sewage increasing.
Shawa said “the Wadi Gaza (Gaza Valley) area was a nature reserve, but has become a health risk to the population due to the dumping of sewage water into it,” adding “Gaza beach has also become a source of diseases and epidemics due to the untreated wastewater flow”.
He demanded that necessary measures be taken to solve the problem of sanitation by providing the necessary fuel to operate wastewater treatment plants to avoid crises and health risks. He also demanded neutralize such vital issue from political conflicts and to find strategic solutions to the sanitation crisis.
General Director of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), Munther Shablaq, warned against the consequences of disruption of sewage treatment plants resulted from the power cuts and lack of fuel to operate electricity generators, which has serious health and environmental repercussions on the lives of Gaza residents.
He said that power outages for long hours completely paralyzed most vital daily life basic services for the population; most notably the unprecedented sea water pollution, which constitutes a threat to people’s right to health and food security.
Shablaq stressed the need to support development projects in the Gaza Strip, especially water desalination and sewage treatment projects, in order to solve the problems facing the residents, basically those that directly affect the health of the population and the environment around.
He also stressed the commitment of the CMWU to strengthen cooperation with international and regional organizations to support strategic projects and improve water and sanitation services in the Gaza Strip.
Shablaq called to exercise pressure upon all parties to solve the electricity crisis as an introduction to solve the problem of untreated sewage water that affected fisheries, tourism as well as the health of the population.
Coordinator of the committees of fishermen in the Union of Agricultural Action Committees, Zakaria Bakr, stated that citizens concern over the increase sea water pollution by the increasing amounts of sewage water, which daily flows in large quantities without being treated, has led to a decline in the purchase of fresh fish by the citizens and purchase of the imported frozen fish.
Bakr pointed out that sea water pollution has a direct impact on fisheries, especially as it kills fish seed that flow on the shore due it is relatively warm, therefore it constitutes a real threat to the food security in Palestine.
On other hand, Bassem Abu Jari from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, said that Gaza Strip suffers from serious crises including environment crisis, which has not received sufficient attention. “The humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip are worsening and the electricity crisis continues due to the suffocating blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation on the Gaza Strip”.
“This crisis has serious negative impacts on the right to health, especially for children, so environmental issues should be paid sufficient attention in the context of poor economic and social conditions,” Abu Jari said.
He called for an urgent action to stop the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and ensure an immediate supply of double quantities of electricity to the Gaza Strip. He also called to take urgent steps to ensure the operation and development of all wastewater treatment plants.
Director of the Desalination Plant in Deir Al-Balah, Kamal Muammar stated that the main impediment to the station is the power outage, which caused a large deficit in the work of the plant, as the plant needs a large amounts of fuel to partially operate its generators.
Muammar pointed out the full capacity for the desalination plant is 6000 cubic meter, but the actual production amount is 1500 cubic meter due to power cuts and lack of fuel as well as the inability to operate solar power system because of the lack of some cables necessary for its operation, as the occupation prevents the entry of it.
He called on the international community to take an urgent action to supply the Gaza Strip with electricity and the fuel needed for the desalination plant to ensure to ensure the safety of desalinated drinking water its reach to the population. .
The participants in the field tour stressed the need to intensify efforts to lift the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, which represents the first step towards finding practical solutions to the crises that plague the sector.
They also stressed the need to work on sustainable strategic solutions to these vital problems, and neutralize it from political crises.
The participants as well stressed the need to call on the international and local parties to shoulder their responsibilities towards the population in the Gaza Strip to ensure that they enjoy all their inalienable rights, especially the rights to access to safe water and electricity and ensure their right to a clean environment.