19-09-2013. Source: EU Neighborhood info centre

The EU, the Palestinian Authority and the German government have marked the award of more than €40 million to construct a wastewater treatment plant in East Nablus. The large-scale project is funded through a €20 million contribution by the EU, a €21.8 million contribution by the German government as well as a €3.4 million contribution by Municipality of Nablus, and will be implemented via the German KfW Development Bank. The project includes the cooperation of a number of Palestinian stakeholders.

Currently, wastewater from East of Nablus flows untreated into the environment reaching agricultural areas and surrounding villages. By helping to build the new plant, this project will significantly reduce health risks for the population of Nablus and contamination of the environment. It will also allow the re-use of treated wastewater in agriculture, hence conserving limited groundwater resources in Palestine.

The project includes the construction of a central wastewater treatment plant to serve the eastern part of Nablus city and six surrounding villages of Azmut, Salem, Deir Al-Hatab, Kafer Qalil, Rujeeb and Beit Furik. It also includes new collection systems and extension of existing collection systems. An initial two years operational assistance to Nablus Municipality in operating the new plant, wastewater pre-treatment facilitates for selected industries and a pilot reuse scheme of treated wastewater in agriculture, are also financed within the project.

“Severe water shortages and acute water quality problems continue to negatively affect the lives and livelihoods of many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In an effort to improve the situation, the EU has since 2011 included water and sanitation as priority sectors within its overall financial assistance to the Palestinian people,” said EU Representative John Gatt-Rutter at the signing ceremony. “Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of an ambitious project which can make a real difference to the quality of life of Palestinians in Nablus and the surrounding villages.”

“This project will benefit up to 150,000 people in the region and, through an effective collection and treatment of wastewater will protect water resources and reduce health risks,” said Wolfgang Reuss, KfW Director of North Africa and Middle East. “Further, the re-use of treated wastewater in agriculture will benefit farmers in the region and will help to save scarce drinking water.”

The EU is a major actor in health and environmental protection in Palestine. Since 2008 it has invested nearly €90 million in the water and sanitation and solid waste management sectors. In the West Bank, apart from Nablus, the EU is supporting the development of wastewater treatment plants also in other areas where water supply is scarce, such as Tubas. In Gaza, the EU is investing both in large-scale solid waste management programmes and also in medium-scale projects with high impact, such as the construction of a desalination facility that will provide safe water to thousands of Gazans.