The WHO has declared that 95% of Gaza’s water is undrinkable, a number that may only increase with the continued blockade and climate change. To address the lack of potable water, the Arava Institute’s Applied Environmental Diplomacy Track II Environmental Forum partnered with the Palestinian nonprofit organization, Damour for Community Development, to bring new atmospheric water generators to local communities and hospitals. Running on renewable energy, the Watergen systems successfully provide clean drinking water through an innovative technology developed by Israeli company Watergen—an alternative to unregulated, costly, and energy-intensive desalination units, which require intensive groundwater pumping that further depletes the aquifer.
With Damour, we brought the first Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG), the Watergen Gen-M, to Abassan al Kabira, Gaza, in December 2019. The second AWG, the larger capacity Wategen Gen-L, was delivered to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, in the summer of 2020. During the May 2021 war, drinking water supplies to the Khan Younis area were cut off and the Watergen Gen-L AWG at the Nasser Hospital was the only source of clean drinking water during the 11-day military conflict.
Nearby communities witnessed the success and in the aftermath of the conflict, a request for additional Watergen units came from medical facilities throughout Gaza to Damour. Damour reached out to the Arava Institute and requested that the Institute and Friends of the Arava Institute in the US help raise the funds to purchase five more Watergen units. In parallel, the Arava Institute reached out to the president of Watergen, Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, for assistance in providing additional Watergen units to Gaza. Dr. Mirilashvili donated a percentage of the cost of the units for the project and the Friends of the Arava Institute reached out to its donors to provide the rest.
Once we secured funding for the project, the Watergen factory in Petach Tikvah, Israel, began to build the five new Watergen Gen-M Pro units that can produce 900 to 1,000 liters/day per unit of high-quality drinking water. Subsequently, the Arava Institute and Damour entered into negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian government authorities to get permission to bring the machines into Gaza. Despite the lengthy and difficult bureaucratic and security obstacles, including multiple military conflicts that occurred during this time period, in the spring of 2023, Damour and the Arava Institute successfully installed five Watergen AWGs, including the solar panel arrays, and trained technicians and engineers to monitor and operate the systems in:
- Alwafa Rehabilitation Center, in the Abu Khadra Complex by Omar al-Mukhtar Street in Gaza City.
- Kamal Adwan Hospital, in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in the Gaza’s North Governorate.
- Kidney Dialysis Center, in Beit Lahia Town in Gaza’s North Governorate.
- Mabarret Palestine Society for Caring (an organization that provides rehabilitation and care services to people with intellectual disabilities). And it is in Western Jabalia Town, in the North Governorate
- Abasan Al-Jadida Municipality building, which is in Abasan al-Jadida in the Khan Younis Governorate.
The Arava Institute’s Applied Environmental Diplomacy Track II Environmental Forum and its Palestinian partner, Damour for Community Development, would like to thank the donors to the Water4Gaza initiative for their wonderful generosity: the Friends of the Arava Institute; the Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Foundation; Ethan Grossman; the Sea Grape Foundation; the Abe and Kathryn Selsky Foundation; the Kennedy Leigh Charitable Trust; Wahat Al-Salam Neve Shalom Humanitarian Aid Fund; and Dr. Michael Mirilashvili, founder and President of Watergen.