Water of the Middle East and North Africa

What Does the Future Hold for Water in Palestine?

Gaza city, Palestine - Water in Palestine
Photo 1: A group of children enjoying their time on the beach of Gaza city, Palestine. Source: Ibrahim Faraj, Flickr

The information in this country file demonstrates that, just as politics have shaped the history of water in Palestine, politics will also shape the future. The key challenge that should be resolved is Israel‘s dominance over water resources and decision-making mechanisms. If the same practices continue, effective regional cooperation is unlikely to be realized soon.[1] The water sector is already at risk, but neither the political situation nor the current practices are changing. Both sides must recognize that there is no winner in this battle, and they must address this issue wisely and strategically.

The Palestinian Authority has made noticeable progress in reforming the water sector, but not to the extent desired by the Water Law Decree 14/2014. In addition, the incomplete legal structure, fragmentation, lack of financing and overlapping responsibilities persist and vary depending on the location and actor. More than ever, internal collaboration is required to unite all stakeholders and design effective solutions.

The water sector faces several financial issues, including a drop in project financing and low bill collection efficiency. In 2032, the Palestinian demand for water is expected to reach 460 MCM.[2] This highlights the importance of developing and improving water infrastructure. Without concrete actions to address the financial issues, it will be difficult to meet this demand.

In general, the following enhancements should be considered:

  • The JWC should be restructured in such a way that ensures a balance of power and cooperation between the two sides. This will promote more mutual trust and encourage problem-solving, both of which are vital for the JWC to succeed.[3]
  • Water quality in the Gaza Strip is a life-threatening issue, and desalination is a promising long-term solution if a sustainable source of energy is secured. However, for the time being, it is critical to secure a clean water resource that meets WHO standards.
  • Capacity building: Since 1996, most external funds allocated to the PA have been used to improve the knowledge and experience of practitioners in the water sector. However, a more systematic approach to capacity building is required to address the various fields of expertise required in the Palestinian context, such as water governance, water diplomacy, wastewater reuse, water remote sensing etc.
  • There have been few attempts by entrepreneurs to find novel solutions to water issues such as water losses and grey water reuse. These initiatives should be empowered and incorporated into the water strategy.
  • The effect of climate change is already visible, but adaptation measures in Palestine are not; this needs to be addressed.