Wadi Gaza has been turned into a wastewater and solid waste stream
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Wadi Gaza is suffering from human violations which turned it into an environmental hazard. It was abandoned by rare wild birds; instead harmful insects and rodents settled in it. Farmers left its fertile lands, and turned it into a place to dispose the construction and chemical waste.
The foul odors emanating from it and mosquito insects are among the most repulsive factors for the residents near it to abandon the place after giving up on officials’ promises to solve their problem, and others were forced to stay because they had no alternative. The valley’s population is estimated to be 16,000 capita.
Abu Iyad Hussein, one of the residents of the valley. He has been living in the valley for twenty years. He talks about the harm his family faces, and their suffering since the valley turned from a nature reserve into an environmental hazard.
An Ongoing Crisis
Hussein says: "Since the Israeli occupation attacked and bombed the only power plant in Gaza Strip in 2006, in response to the abduction of the Israeli soldier by the Palestinian resistance. Since then, we have been facing a crisis with the Gaza Valley. This crisis has intensified after the occupation imposed and tightened the blockade. What worsened the environmental crisis is the municipal impotence to treat the wastewater but instead directing it straight towards the valley. "
Hussein added: “The occupation's construction of dams near the borders of the Gaza Strip, to collect and trap rainwater, dried up the valley. The intermittent water supply in the valley led to sediments and wastes remaining at the bottom of the valley. This generated toxic pollutants that killed the fish that lived in the valley, and also this led to migration of the rare birds from it.”
He pointed out that the valley that used to be fertile has become repelling for farmers. Owners of pieces of land in the valley area try to sell it at the lowest prices. Buyers of a piece of land in the valley would only use it as a store of metal scrap.
Over the past years, residents have been patient about the officials’ promises to find solutions for the valley’s crisis. The officials would repeatedly say: “We are in continuous discussion about the crisis with international organizations,” but Hussein believes that this does not go beyond media talks only.
The Gaza Valley is one of the most important natural features in the Gaza Strip, as it originates from the mountains of Hebron in the West Bank, and slopes from the east to the west, passing through Beer el Sabe “Beersheba” and dispensing into the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Gaza.
The length of the Gaza Valley from the source to the downstream is about 160 km, and its length in the Gaza Strip is about 9 km. The height of the valley at the eastern borders is about 80 m, and it reaches zero at the downstream of the Mediterranean.
The Area of the Valley
The Ministry of Local Government in Gaza confirmed that the Gaza Valley problem has always been put on the ministry's agenda, as it discusses it with municipalities and international organizations. The ministry assures that the delay in finding solutions is due to both the Israeli occupation, which has imposed its siege on the Gaza Strip in the last 15 Years, and the scarcity of international funding.
The Director of Projects Department at the Ministry of Local Government, Eng. Zuhdi Al-Ghariz, explains that after the completion of the construction of the wastewater treatment plant east of Al-Bureij camp in the center of Gaza Strip, the valley will gradually return to a nature reserve. The international funding needed for such a project is about $5 million.
Al-Ghariz added to Afaq Magazine, “The Ministry of Local Government has given orders to all municipalities that supervise the Gaza Valley area to stop all forms of human intrusion and prevent the dumping of solid waste. They have also given orders about removing all black residues from the valley as well as performing some excavations to deepen the valley.
The waste water treatment plant was established with funding from the German Development Bank (KFW) at a cost of more than $100 million. The treatment plant uses the latest technology in the treatment process, and relies mainly on providing the electrical energy from the biogas resulting from the treatment process.
In addition to the establishment of a unit for the production of renewable energy through solar cells with a capacity of 3.5 megawatts to serve nearly one million citizens in Gaza governate and the Central governorates.
Translated by: Rasha Abu Dayyeh