Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable"



Water Crisis Will Make Gaza Strip "Unliveable"

The Gaza strip faces a water crisis that will soon make it "unliveable" unless plans for a $500m desalination plant are approved by banks, delegates at a water conference in Stockholm were told this week.

Water for the 1.6 million people – half of them children and two-thirds refugees – who live in just 365 sq km of land bordering the Mediterranean comes entirely from the shallow coastal aquifer shared between Gaza, Israel and Egypt, which is only partly replenished each year by rainfall. Decades of overpumping and heavy pollution from salts and waste water has left the aquifer highly degraded and in danger of irreparable damage.

UN hydrologists say no more than 55 million cubic metres (mcm) of water should be abstracted a year, but present exploitation rates run at around 160mcm. If this continues, says the UN, it could result in the water table dropping to a point where massive sea water intrusion permanently destroys the source within a few years.

In addition, the little water available is heavily polluted by nitrates from uncontrolled sewage, and fertilisers from farmlands, making 90% of the water unfit for human consumption. With the Gaza population expected to increase by 500,000 within eight years, and nearly 25% of all illnesses in Gaza water-related, the urgency for countries to put aside differences and address the issue is growing.

"The aquifer could become unusable as early as 2016, with the damage irreversible by 2020. UNEP [the UN Environment Programme] recommends ceasing abstraction immediately as it would otherwise take centuries for the aquifer to recover. Even with remedial action now to cease abstraction, the aquifer will take decades to recover," said a UN Relief and Works Agency report published this week.

The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) expects demand for fresh water to grow to 260mcm per year by 2020, a 60% increase on current levels of abstraction from the aquifer, the UN report says.

"We are facing a crisis. If we do not address it now, then Gaza will become unliveable," said Shaddad Attili, minister and head of the Palestinian water authority in Stockholm to lobby the Swedish and other Nordic governments during World Water week.

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ADDENDUM:

I have to comment due to the continued genocide unfolding in the Gaza Strip because I do not condone it! For decades the Palestinian people have been subjugated through brutalization, bombardment, lack of water, lack of land, lack of food and stripped of being able to live a life of dignity and health. For years they have strived to survive in this land beside Israel that has been using their might, power and Western connections to continue to also use water as a weapon. I find that to be unconscienable and immoral. While I do not condone deaths on any side and see the firing of rockets and the dropping of bombs to be wrong in the search for true peace I also understand why a people would be pushed to the extreme after being denied the basic necessities of life for decades and in also seeing their children suffering because of it.

The response of Israel to this is ten fold regarding the death and destruction it is reaping. It is wrong and it does nothing to bring the region any closer to peace. The way to peace is to allow the Palestinian people their own rights to the land they live on with adequate clean water, sewerage systems, schools, land, seeds and the ability to build a life of health and dignity. This is not now the case and it is an abomination that the world sits watching in their distractionary stupor while this bloodshed continues. If the Israeli government really wanted peace they would stop the bombing and start giving back the water and land they have stolen over so many decades. I firmly believe that all we want as humans here is to be able to live our lives with dignity! For them to not even want that and to actually work to push these people into the sea shows nothing but a bare naked hatred that is the worst ugliness of humanity. My hope is that Israeli and Palestinian people understand this and will work together to rid both their lands of those hateful ones who now have control of this situation and use it only for their own profit.

Beyond the envoys and countless "meetings" on this, the one chance for peace and the real root cause is always overlooked: Let humans live human lives! Water, land, food, a chance to see their children grow up happy. Humanity is the real way to peace. Are we really even beyond that now?

___ Comment on article: The global water crisis is the most urgent crisis along with the climate crisis that we as humans and other species are now facing. These crises are the turning point in our present and continued existence upon this our only home. However, our ability to look beyond the prejudice, the greed, the waste and the corruption to a world where the global water crisis is considered more important than a political convention still seems to elude us on the whole.

According to current statistics 70 percent of our water is used in agriculture with much of it wasted, 20 percent in industry (and dirty water intensive energy sources) with much of it wasted and 10 percent domestically with much of it wasted. Notice the key word here? Wasted, wasted and wasted. We as a species on the whole are Water Wasters. And because of it we are making a world where the Gaza Strip will assuredly be "unliveable" along with many other areas of the world.

The impacts of human induced climate change are not helping either. Flood catastrophes were twice as great per decade between 1996 and 2005 as they were between 1950 and 1980 with great economic losses sustained. In the last decade of the 20th Century two billion people were affected by the natural disasters brought on primarily due to floods and droughts. It is predicted that within only two decades approximately half this world will be living in water stress, this also due to depletion of aquifers along with extreme effects of soil evaporation and sea level rise. And the deeper you dig, the longer it takes to replenish. This would then bring about millions of climate refugees looking for water and arable land. Where will they go? Certainly not the Gaza Strip. At present rate it will be a barren wasteland. And we will have politics to blame for it. The politics of hatred that has ruled this area of the world for milennia will finally culminate in the extinction of its people and the desertification of a once beautiful land. Is that really where you wish to see it end?

"We are facing a crisis. If we do not address it now, then Gaza will become unliveable," said Shaddad Attili, minister and head of the Palestinian water authority in Stockholm to lobby the Swedish and other Nordic governments during World Water week.

Addressing this crisis in the Gaza Strip requires more than desalination plants that would then suck water out of the Mediterranean Sea. It requires all sides to leave behind their politics and look to humanity. Water has not been evenly allocated in this region for many years also contributing to the shortages. The people of the Gaza Strip have limited resources under the thumb of their oppressors and the effects of a changing world. This must change if they are ever to see real peace.

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