Kuwait .. major donor to Gaza desalination project: official

Kuwait has pledged a “significant amount” at a pledging conference on the Gaza Central Desalination Plant & Associated Works Project in Brussels Tuesday.

“This conference was about helping the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip to avert from a major catastrophic deterioration in the quality of ground water because of the lack of supply of portable drinking water in Gaza,” Hani Al Ghawas of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) told KUNA after the meeting.

He noted that over the last years Gazans have been consuming heavily the ground water which is being entrained by the salt water in the sea as well as because of the lack of infrastructure it is getting contaminated by untreated sewage water.

A programmed was initiated in 2011 to help resolve these issues and to set up a Gaza. It took some years to get the financing and prepare the study for the project, he noted.

“Kuwait pledged significant amount to this project. Together with the Arab fund and under the coordination of the Islamic Development Bank we committed that 50 percent of the project cost will be covered by the Arab Gulf states,” said Al Ghawas.

There are three main contributors, the Islamic Bank, the Saudi fund and the Kuwait fund and each party is contributing similar amount, he said without mentioning the amounts.

“This conference is reasonably successful. They were able to raise together with the 50 percent from the three Arab funds up to 80 percent of the total cost coverage,” he added.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told journalists that the conference mobilised financial support of 456 million euro (USD 559) to this biggest ever infrastructure project in the Gaza Strip.

He said the project provides a minimum of 55 million square metres of safe and clean drinking water per year to the people in dire need in Gaza. The EU pledged 77 million euro (USD 94 million) for the desalination plant.

“Today’s successful pledging conference takes us a step closer to making a reality of this project and to improve living conditions in Gaza, and remove obstacles to economic development there,” said Hahn.

On his part, Minister of the Palestinian Water Authority Mazin Ghunaim told journalists that this conference was aimed at collecting 562 million euro (USD 689 million) for the complete project.

“We have been able to collect 456 million euro,” he said, adding that “this is a very significant achievement and glad news for the people of Gaza.” This amount of 456 million euro is enough for the upcoming three years for the project he said and thanked the European Commission for organising the conference and all the other donors.

Today, the EU together with the Palestinian Authority hosted a pledging conference on the Gaza Central Desalination Plant & Associated Works Project in Brussels.

Source: Kuwait News Agency