UN set to transform Gaza Valley sewage dump to natural reserve


By Aluta News

Feb. 7, 2022

The United Nations on Monday said it would begin the restoration of a historic valley in the Palestinian Gaza Strip by March.

Mohammed Abu Shaaban, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project coordinator said the UN was hoping to transform the valley from a landfill and sewage dump into a vibrant nature reserve in a planned 66 million dollars project.

“In an attempt to save it, the UNDP has put together the 66 million dollars project plan, though it has not yet secured the entire funding.

“It is a full project to develop this site and to turn it from an unhealthy wastewater dump into a place people of Gaza can visit and into a tourist site.

“The two-phase project will take several years to complete. The first funds to come through, 1.3 million dollars from Belgium, will go toward the initial cleanup which is expected to take around four months.

“In March, we will start removing the solid waste and the concrete and debris in the Wadi (valley), opening the route, doing the soil reclamation and planting many trees.’’

For the past few months, a new water treatment station in central Gaza has allowed treated water to flow into the valley, improving the habitat of dozens of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

In the longer term, the restoration also aims to benefit the people of Gaza, with camping sites, cafes and educational and recreational centres along the valley route.

Marwan Hamad, head of Zahra City Council, whose office was involved in the development said “several tourist and economic centres will be built and will provide jobs for unemployed people.’’

The Gaza Valley, home to a variety of plants and animals, is one of the largest wetland areas in the territory.

It stretches 105 kms (65 miles) from the Israeli Negev desert up to southern Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and for nine kms (5.5 miles) across the Gaza Strip to the Mediterranean Sea.

However, over the past few decades, in spite the Palestinians proclaiming the valley a nature reserve in the 1990s, it had become badly polluted with rubbish piling up and the stench of sewage flowing through it, residents have kept away.

Mohammad Aburjaila, 26, among 40 activists who visited the site in support of the project said “we came from all over the Gaza Strip to tell the people that Gaza valley was being transformed and it would be restored as a nature reserve.’’