Palestine’s Water Challenge

Palestine is facing an acute and immediate water access crisis that the current portfolio of long-term water interventions cannot address in time. According to the Palestinian Water Authority, by 2020 less than a third of total water needs will be met due to increased agricultural demand in the West Bank, unsustainable groundwater use in Gaza, and increasing demographic pressure. Addressing the crisis is made even more difficult by the energy shortage – water solutions such as desalination facilities and wastewater treatment plants require a strong and reliable power supply.

Gaza's Water Gap by 2020 (million cubic meters)
% of Income Gazans Spend on Water
% of Diseases in Gaza Caused by Water Crisis



  • Today, 90% of the population does not have access to safe drinking water; the aquifer – the only source of drinking water – is heavily polluted and will be rendered fully unusable by 2020.
  • Total demand for water is increasing at 13% per year; a study conducted by McKinsey & Company estimates a demand gap of 200 million m3 by 2020.
  • Without reliable access to clean tap water, most of the population purchases water through unregulated private vendors, yet 95% of this water is also bacteriologically contaminated.
  • Despite the low quality of this water, prices remain high – according to the World Health Organization, Gaza’s most vulnerable households report spending 30% of income on water.
  • As an additional challenge, the lack of access to power is a key barrier to construction of large-scale desalination plants and other water solutions.



  • The lack of water is the number one constraint to agricultural productivity in an otherwise high-potential farming area, possibly contributing to long-term food insecurity.
  • Waste Water Treatment Technology (WWT) could provide over 25 million m3 of water for agriculture, yet only 3% of wastewater is treated in the West Bank, compared to 90% in Israel.

Proposed Solution: Triangulation of Short, Medium, and Long-Term Water Projects

We believe that tackling the water and sanitation issues across the West Bank and Gaza requires a combination of short, medium, and long-term solutions.


While large-scale desalination and wastewater treatment projects are underway, the ongoing energy shortage and border restrictions often hinder construction and maintenance material imports, which in turn can result in the delay of such long-term solutions. To complement these long-term efforts, Shurook will support projects that have a shorter lead time, including a mid-scale desalination plant in Gaza that could be operational in less than 3 years. Shurook’s Lab also continues to explore even shorter-term, innovative solutions such as air-to-water generators, solar-powered desalination technology for individual homes, and septic tank-to-constructed wetland treatment systems.


Mayet Al Ahel

Mayet Al Ahel, or “family water” in Arabic, is a project that will provide a timely solution to Gaza’s ongoing drinking water crisis. With a containerized desalination plant and bottling facility, the project will treat seawater to produce affordable, yet safe drinking water for Gazan families.