RAFAH, June 20, 2011 (WAFA) – The French Consul-General in Jerusalem, Frederic Desagneaux, Monday inaugurated a project for the extension of the sewage network in Rafah, a city south of the Gaza Strip, according to a press release from the Consulate.

The release said that the project, launched by the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and the Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU), responded to an emergency program following Israeli operation “Cast Lead”.

The project meets the needs, resulting from the critical threat of possible contamination of groundwater from the untreated water released into the environment, leading to reduction of the amount of drinking water potentially available for Gaza residents, it said.

According to the release, recent studies show that the share of unsalted water into the groundwater of the Gaza Strip is only about 5%. The majority of the groundwater is thus made up of salted water that requires important and expensive treatments in order to reach the standards.

It said the project was financed by mainly the French Development Agency (AFD), which donated half-million Euros, as well as TIKA, OXFAM, UNICEF and the Qatari Red Crescent.

AFD’s work allowed the installation of a 13.5 km sewage network with materials coming entirely from the local market (PVC pipes, concrete manholes, backfill and reinstalment materials). As a result, 3000 inhabitants of Al Juneina, a neighbourhood northeast of Rafah, have been connected to the sewage network, said the communiqué.
The French Consulate said that Gaza is a priority for the French cooperation in the Palestinian Territories as France has already financed several projects in the Rafah region, one of the poorest and more isolated in the Gaza Strip, for an amount of around €500,000 over the past three years, whether through AFD (roads construction, job creation program in the agricultural sector, support to NGOs in the education sector) or the Social Fund for Development (support to NGOs in the childhood protection field), clarified the press release.