UNDP removes tonnes of waste to improve a nature reserve in Gaza
Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Gaza has been working on clearing and improving a nature reserve in the Gaza Strip following investment from European countries.
In a press statement sent to The New Arab, the UNDP said that the project will cost about US$50 million in a bid to replace a previously polluted area with an open space for residents to enjoy and where clean water can flow to the sea.
"Some 22,000 tonnes of solid waste were removed from the area in the first phase of construction, and an additional 40,000 tonnes are expected to be removed in phase two which is underway," the statement added.
"Recreation and education facilities are planned on the site which is having trees planted within it to increase its green space. The area, home to some 150 species of insects and birds, also supports a diverse array of plants," it explained.
"We are going to create a green belt for the population in Gaza who sill move from Gaza to the southern part of the coastal enclave," Mohammed Abu Shaaban, the project coordinator of the UNDP, spoke to TNA.
"The first step is the clean up the area from the garbage and all waste. The second will be planting the area with trees as well as infrastructure improvements including better road access to make the area attractive to local tourists," Abu Shaaban said.
Abu Shaaban said the master plan aims to solve "all the environmental issues in the valley", including pollution, encroachment, building violations, and "the floods the valley has been suffering from over the years".
For years, the Gaza sea has been suffering from pollution because the Hamas-run local authorities resorted to pumping wastewater into it in the absence of a wastewater treatment plant.
Since 2007, the coastal enclave has been living under tightened Israeli blockade. In addition, it was subjected to four large-scale military wars which destroyed most of its infrastructure as well as damaged the only electricity plant in the territory.
As a result, the Hamas-run local authorities pumped the wastewater into the sea which negatively affected the environment.
"Gazans need to return to their beautiful natural valley once again to enjoy their time when they cross the road, for local people to walk through and enjoy," said Abdul al-Fattah Abed Rabbo, a Gaza-based environmental specialist told TNA.
"Such a sustainable project will encourage the donors to fund other projects that would let Gazans feel that they will live as normal as they did before 2007," he added.