The European Union yesterday announced the completion of the largest solar energy field in the Gaza Strip that will provide 0.5 megawatts of electricity per day to fuel a desalination plant.
The European Commission said in a statement that the desalination plant currently provides drinking water to 75,000 people in the provinces of Khan Yunis and Rafah, south of Gaza Strip, adding that with the completion of the new solar project, water will reach 250,000 people in Gaza by 2020.
EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said: "Limited energy supplies in Gaza are one of the main challenges when improving access to safe and drinkable water to the local population."
"The photovoltaic solar field is essential to respond to the urgent water needs in Gaza and create dignified living conditions for its people, thus mitigating tensions in a highly conflict sensitive area," he added.
He pointed out that 97 per cent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption, warning of the high population density in the sector, which puts enormous pressure on infrastructure damaged by repeated conflicts.
In March, the European Union held a conference in Brussels, co-chaired by the European Union and the Palestinian Authority. The conference pledged €456 million ($532 million) to construct a central desalination plant which will be the biggest infrastructure project in the Gaza Strip.