UNDP is constructing water tanks across the West Bank and Gaza Strip to provide safe water to the Palestinian population

While environment is not a separate sector of the Palestinian National Development Plan, environmental objectives are reflected in one of the infrastructure sector strategic objective of protecting the environment.

The Palestinian people experience a continuous depletion of natural resources as a result of the occupation. Water supply and sanitation services in the  oPt are characterized by severe shortage. The current average domestic water consumption rate in the West Bank is estimated at 65 litres/capita/day (l/c/d) and between 50 and 70 l/c/d in the Gaza Strip, which fall below the minimum 100-150 l/c/d recommended by WHO.  Only 60 percent  of the population is connected to sewage, and treatment plants capacity falls below needs. Furthermore, solid waste is mismanaged, all while wastewater is insufficiently and inadequately collected, treated and discharged.

UNDP’s support to the water and environment sectors is multi-dimensional, addressing capacity development needs in areas such as: water governance, environmental protection and sustainability, pollution control, climate change. Support also entails building infrastructure and environmental regulations, which are essential for pollution control and protection of natural resources. UNDP is working very closely with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), Environment Quality Authority (EQA) and the Palestinian Energy Authority to achieve the above.

Strategic Priorities

 UNDP promotes solar energy through its projects

Since 1979, more than one-third of UNDP’s resources have been invested in environmental projects. This has resulted in more than 270 projects, ranging from construction of water and wastewater networks and rehabilitation of sewage treatment plants to the development of strategic water and environment sector plans. Aligned with the Palestinian National Development Plan, support focuses on the following:

Focus Area 1: Environment Governance
Good environmental governance requires focus on capacity and institution building of all relevant environmental actors, in addition to empower people to be more active in addressing environmental challenges. To this end, relevant institutions are empowered to:

  • Set up state-of-the-art regulatory frameworks that will provide an enabling environment for sustainable development practices and for pollution control
  • Develop capacity of the Palestinian Authority (PA), local authorities and civil society institutions to support the development of clear environmental action plans and policies, regulations, environmental quality standards and criteria, environmental manuals and environmental awareness strategies and programmes
  • Provide training for enforcing and monitoring the implementation of the various environmental regulations
  • Strengthen the Palestinian Authority pollution control regulatory framework and build the capacities of the different institutions for monitoring and inspecting pollution sources

Focus Area 2: Financing Environment
As a country under occupation, the oPt is already facing a challenging financial situation and is largely dependent on international financing for developmental projects and operating costs. Its inability to access environmental finance exacerbates the oPt’s environmental threats, leading to marginalization of the sector, especially during crises. UNDP is working closely with the Environment Quality Authority (EQA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Ministry of Planning (MOPAD) and donors to:

  • Support and build the capacities of EQA and MoFA to engage in the international environmental conventions
  • Enable the PA to access environmental financing with focus on GEF and CC different funds
  • Strengthen the capacities of the PA authorities (EQA, PWA, MOPAD and MoFA) in multilateral negotiations and access to environmental financing, and engage in environmental conventions

Focus Area 3: Water Supply, Sanitation and Solid Waste Services
UNDP works closely with PWA on water governance, in particular within the framework of a regional UNDP programme, improve water management, access to water, wastewater and solid waste services for marginalized communities in Gaza and the West Bank, particularly in Area C. The main priorities identified include

  • Enhance the capacity of PWA to develop a National Water Plan and set the water sector regulatory framework, including regulations, quality standards and intergovernmental arrangements
  • Improve water availability and quality in Gaza through the development of alternative water sources (desalination plants and reverse osmosis units) in the Gaza Strip
  • Improve water networks efficiency in Gaza and coverage in Area C through rehabilitation and construction of distribution networks, installation of booster pumps and tanks
  • Improve wastewater collection (Gaza and West Bank) through the installation of sewage networks, and treatment, through the introduction of a wastewater reuse scheme in Khan Younis
  • Expand access to safe solid waste collection, transfer and landfilling; and, develop sustainable management mechanisms to increase public awareness on solid waste management and piloting recycling schemes
    Improve management of hazardous waste with focus on health care waste

Focus Area 4: Climate Change Adaptation
The potential consequences of climate change in the oPt are serious. The increasing scarcity of water resources and the gradual desertification in the country poses a very real threat to livelihoods and health. In an effort to keep the oPt linked with the globally changing environment, UNDP conducted an assessment on climate change to develop a climate change adaptation strategy and formulate a climate change adaptation programme. In response to the findings, UNDP support will:

  • Use regional programmes and initiatives (Arab Climate Resilience Initiative, UNDP Regional Programme for Climate Change) to build the awareness and knowledge of Palestinian authorities on climate change and adaptation strategies, with a focus on water scarcity, droughts, sea water level rise, energy efficiency and alternative energy sources
  • Mainstream climate change in national plans and strategies and strengthen the capacity of the related PA ministries to develop climate change adaptation strategies
  • Develop national plans to combat desertification (underway) and for disaster management and risk reduction
  • Implement selected pilot projects in the most affected areas of the oPt on water resources management and food security, efficient and sustainable use of energy and sea level rise
  • Use similar implementation modality, such as the GEF, to engage civil society organizations and build their capacities in climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Support the resilience of the most vulnerable communities by increasing their awareness on climate change potential impacts on their livelihoods, building their capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change
  • Introduce greening technologies, policies, and standards in construction of homes and buildings