The setup was designed by a local and covers his family needs in water
The Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian and nutritional crisis due to the six-decade war it has gone through. The region is also challenged by a man-made water crisis, with some new reports speaking about the risk of running out of water in a matter of months. In an attempt to address the water shortage with a sustainable solution, a local named Fayez al-Hindi built a simple solar-powered distillation setup that separates clean water from pollutants and salt. Being severely affected by the lack of clean drinking water, he got his inspiration from the fact that sunshine is readily available in the area of Gaza. A similar unit was described and tested in the past at the Al Azhar University in Gaza. Solar distillation is a slow process that essentially works by gradually evaporating and condensing the water inside, but it is very effective at cleaning water. There was a lot of skepticism regarding the cleanliness of the distilled water, so it was tested by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility and found to be safe enough for drinking. Lab technician Mohamed Abu Shamaleh even termed the results as “fascinating”. The inventor is now working with other locals in the community in order to help them build this kind of distillation systems in their own homes.
Water-crisis in Gaza
Most local people buy on a regular basis desalinated water distributed to households in private tank trucks. But the rapid increase in the usage of desalinated water has health risks, as this water is still highly saline, with high concentrations of sodium nitrate. According to Younis al-Mogheir, head of the Environmental Engineering Department at the Islamic University of Gaza, the water salinity rate amounts to 1,200-5,000 mg/L. Meanwhile, the normal rate for water consumption according to Palestinian standards ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 mg/L. Nitrate on the other hand, reaches 400 mg/L while safe levels are 50 mg/L. “These high salinity rates explains the wide spread of water desalination stations. However, the regulatory authorities are not following up on the operation of these stations, which has caused desalinated water to be contaminated and thus poses a great threat to the citizens’ health,” said Mogheir.
Taking into account that just 5.8 % of Gaza households have water of good quality, the European Union and UNICEF initiated in March 2014 a project to build a desalination plant. Sea water will be turned into fresh drinking water and the project’s cost is estimated at 10 million euros ($11.7 million). “Work is ongoing to establish this station that would provide 20,000 cubic liters of desalinated water to 75,000 people in Gaza by 2016”, said Monzer Sheblak, head of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.