The EU started operations at the biggest solar energy field in the Gaza Strip to fuel projects that will provide drinking water to people in dire need, the European Commission (EC) announced on Thursday.
"EU has completed the biggest photovoltaic solar field in Gaza. It will provide 0.5 megawatts of electricity per day to fuel the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant," the EC explained.
The EU-funded Southern Gaza Desalination Plant currently provides drinking water to 75,000 inhabitants in the Khan Younis and Rafah governorates.
With the new energy field and new investments foreseen, drinking water is expected to eventually reach 250,000 people in Southern Gaza by 2020, according to the EC.
"Limited energy supplies in Gaza are one of the main challenges when improving access to safe and drinkable water to the local population," EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, was quoted as saying.
"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," he added.
- More EU-funded projects to kick-off
The EC shared that the EU, as part of its long-term investment in water infrastructure across Palestine with an emphasis on the Gaza Strip, mobilized a €128 million budget between 2006 and 2017, and more funding has been made available for 2018.
"€21 million has been allocated in 2018. The goal is to secure self-sufficient, equitable, affordable and sustainable access to energy, safe drinking water and sanitation services for all," the statement noted, adding that in the coming months, more EU-funded projects in this area will launch.
The EU held a pledging conference in Brussels for the Gaza Central Desalination Plant & Associated Works Project on March 20 to mobilize financial support. The conference saw €456 million pledged to the 'biggest ever infrastructure project in the Gaza strip' to provide a minimum of 55 million cubic meters of safe and clean drinking water per year.
"The EU pledged €70 million for the desalination plant plus €7.1 million for management costs," the statement said.
By Ebru Sengul