A combination of climate change, population pressure, pollution and use of inappropriate cropping patterns and farming techniques has been depleting the aquifer of the Gaza Strip, threatening food production and farmers’ incomes.
To address these challenges, FAO has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture and the French Development Agency (AFD) for the implementation of a 2.1 million euro project aimed at strengthening low-emission water management in the Gaza Strip. Speaking at the signing event of the project agreement held in Ramallah in the presence of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, Dr Ciro Fiorillo, Head of Office for FAO’s coordination Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip Programme (FAO-WBGS) highlighted that the Gaza Strip faces a severe shortage of water for agricultural use, compounded by a chronic scarcity of energy and problems in disposing wastewater. “The intervention we are launching today is remarkable because it will use solar energy to recycle wastewater and the water recovered will then be used for food production, promoting jobs, income and livelihoods for thousands of families in the North of Gaza.’’, he said.
The signing of the agreement signals the start of the five-year project, which will focus on the enhancement of institutional and operational capacities for integrated and resilient water management. Farmers will receive training to introduce and institutionalize good irrigation and crop management practices with the use of recovered water. FAO also aims to modernize cropping patterns and farming techniques through farmer field schools and various extension services. Additionally, public awareness campaigns targeting producers, marketers, service providers and consumers will be undertaken to promote socio-cultural acceptance of food produced using recovered water and to promote climate-resilient and water-efficient agriculture practices in the face of climate change’s adverse impacts.
The project is part of a wider 23.7 million Euros intervention on ‘’Water banking and adaptation of agriculture to climate change in northern Gaza’’ financed by AFD and the Green Climate Fund with the overall aim of reducing the impact of warmer temperatures, decreasing rainfall and increasing aridity due to climate change, by increasing the availability of alternative water resources that may be used to sustain agriculture and to increase the resilience of a highly vulnerable population in the Gaza Strip.
According to Dr Azzam Ayasa, Head of Programme for FAO-WBGS, the project will enable thousands of Palestinian farmers and their families in Gaza to sustainably obtain and manage the irrigation water they need to irrigate around 15,000 dunums of agricultural land north of Gaza. ‘’This will provide farmers with the opportunity to intensify, diversify and increase the value of their cropping systems, while ensuring equality and equity in accessing the benefits of these new opportunities for women, men and youth.’’, he added.