Financial meetings held over Gaza desalination project
The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) announced on 18 January 2012 that a delegation headed by deputy secretary general Rafiq Husseini visited Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the previous week to present the Gaza water desalination project to financing institutions.The UfM Delegation held meetings with the president of the Islamic Development Bank, Ahmed Ali Mohamed, with the vice-chairman and director general of the Saudi Fund for Development, Youssef Al-Bassam, as well as with the director of operations of the Kuwait Fund, Fawzi Al-Hunaif, and senior officials from the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development.
Discussions focused on the water problem in Gaza and the need to build a large-scale desalination plant, which is expected to alleviate the overpumping of groundwater from the coastal aquifer which underlies the Gaza strip, hence stabilising and regenerating the only fresh water resources in Gaza. It is also expected to have substantial impact in improving public health.
The UfM says that its visit was positively welcomed by the Arab financing institutions and funds, which encouraged its secretariat in its endeavours to promote the project. The UfM is providing support to the promoter of the project, the Palestinian Water Authority, in raising the resources required to finance the project, which could amount to US$ 450 million. Detailed estimations are expected to be provided through the update of the Gaza desalination feasibility study, currently being undertaken by the European Investment Bank.
The Gaza desalination project was the very first project to be labeled by the UfM, with a unanimous decision by its 43 member countries. It consists of the construction of a 100 million m³/year desalination facility and distribution system in the Gaza strip over two phases.