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Gaza's water problem


Saturday 24 November 2012

The ceasefire in Gaza seems to be holding, and Gaza can slowly return to its status quo. Except that the difficult status quo for Gazans seems increasingly precarious.

The United Nations produced a report in August with many worrying details. But a lack of water is one particularly pressing problem. Here are some of its key details (p3):
Population – Size 2.13 million people in 2020, about 500,000 more than today
Water – Aquifer: May become unusable by 2016 and damage to it irreversible by 2020
Water – Demand: 260 million cubic metres in 2020, an increase of about 60% from today

So, if that estimate is accurate, Gaza and Israel have three years to come to an agreement about the supply of water to the Gaza Strip.

Just before the UN's study, the Jerusalem Post reported the charity Oxfam as saying that Gaza residents “are spending as much as a third of their household income on buying drinking water”. The report says that Israel is meeting 4%-5% of Gaza's water needs. It recently increased prices by 33.3% (from $0.75 to $1 per cubic metre).

(Oxfam also has a briefing paper from July here, though this refers to Palestine as a whole.)

In May, foreign ministers from the European Union's 27 member states highlighted water as one of their principal concerns about Gaza. Expect it to increase in prominence.

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