By Shira Kronich

The lack of clean drinking water in Gaza has become extremely severe in recent years. Gaza’s main source of water is its coastal aquifer. Unfortunately, its water supply has been rapidly depleting over the last several decades due to over-extraction and as a consequence of the continued blockade on Gaza. The reduced water levels have resulted in saline water seeping in, further polluting the water in the aquifer. According to the United Nations Committee for Development and Trade, 95% of Gaza’s ground water is not fit for drinking, and if we do not take meaningful steps, on the ground in the upcoming year, very soon there will be no drinking water there at all.

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, in cooperation with their Palestinian partner led to the installation of a sophisticated system which produces clean drinking water from the atmosphere. The machine is an atmospheric water generator (AWG) that can make up to 800 liters (211 gallons) of water a day. Known as Gen-M, the generator weighs almost 800 kilograms and is one of several products offered by the company, WaterGen. All of WaterGen’s units are powered by what it calls heat-exchange GENius technology which creates water by cooling collected air at its dew point. The water goes through physical, chemical, and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, taste and health quality. At first the pilot device, GEN-M, provided approximately 700 liters of drinking water a day to the municipal building, and in order to provide a steady supply of electricity, the device will be connected to solar panels. This cutting-edge pilot-project is the fruit of far-reaching cooperation between the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, its Palestinian partner, the Watergen Company who developed the technology, and the local municipality in Gaza.

In such uncertain global times, when the local political context is only getting more tense and more acute, this project highlights the importance and the strength of relationships and trust. The introduction of WaterGen system into Gaza is not only a proof of concept for a cutting edge technology but a proof of concept that Palestinians and Israelis can do more than launch attacks at each other. We can, instead, work together to improve lives, solve humanitarian problems, build trust, and restore hope while working towards a just resolution of the conflict and the establishment of a two-state solution

The Arava Institute is now working on further advancing, with its partners, the provision of additional machines to produce drinking water from the air in Gaza.

Shira Kronich is Strategy and Operations manager with the Arava Institute