In theory, Israel is responsible for addressing any challenges related to water resources in the West Bank, as it is the occupying power and controls the resources. However, Israel has failed to fulfil these obligations and the responsibility has fallen to international donors along with Palestinian authorities.
Almost all water development projects in Palestine rely on international funding and support. The government budget that is allocated to the PWA covers only salaries and management fees. Donors are therefore important actors in the Palestinian water sector.
To obtain donor funding, the Palestinian Authority periodically develops a three-year plan that outlines the sector’s development needs. This plan is submitted to different donors including the EU, USAID and SIDA (Sweden). For projects in the West Bank, donors request approval from the JWC and CA if the project or part of it is to be implemented in Area C (60% of the West Bank). Failure to obtain project approval leads donors to postpone, cancel or reallocate the fund to other sectors.[i]
The PWA’s water sector strategy for the period 2014-2032 outlines both short- and long-term goals. It estimates that around $7 billion is needed to cover investment needs for the first 20 years of the plan. Sources of funding have yet to be identified.
The PWA is highly dependent on foreign aid for implementing any small or large project. In 2011-2012, for example, the World Bank’s assistance programme provided $75 million to projects in the West Bank and Gaza. One example of these projects is the Gaza Emergency Water Project II (GEWP II). GEWP II has been a key factor in ensuring that the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility is able to maintain services through efficient and effective emergency financing.[ii]
The current political situation has led to ineffective water project development, often operating less at a strategic level and more in emergency mode. This has both frustrated donors and complicated their positions. For example, many of the Palestinian water improvement projects that have been granted support and receive international donor funding have yet to be approved, have been rejected by the JWC in the West Bank, or are being delayed due to the blockade and other restrictions in Gaza.
[i] PWA, 2013. Donor Contributions to the Water and Sanitation Sector in Palestine, published on the occasion of World Water Day 2013 . Available at: http://pwa.ps/userfiles/file/World%20Water%20Day%20Booklet.pdf, accessed 2 May 2015.
[ii] PWA, 2014d. Gaza Water Supply and Sewage Systems Improvement Project, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) & Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) for Gaza Water Supply and Sewage Systems Improvement Project (WSSSIP) Phase 1 and Additional Financing (AF), September 2014. Available at: http://www.pwa.ps/userfiles/file/تقارير/تصنيف%201/FINAL_ESIA_ESMP_22Sep2014.pdf, accessed 17 April 2015.