The World Bank announced a US$25 million grant for the Water Security and Resilience Project and a US$15 million grant for the Resilient Municipal Services Project in the Palestinian territories. Both operations will be co-financed with an additional US$33 million from the Partnership for Infrastructure Development Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PID MDTF) administered by the Bank.
“We are embarking on these much-needed coordinated efforts with our donor partners to deepen our development impact in providing and increasing a more stable supply of water and sustainable municipal services for the Palestinian people,” said Stefan Emblad, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “Both operations build on the Bank’s previous engagements in the two sectors. This financing aims to advance the performance of sectoral institutions, as well as support reforms and policy development, expand services to disadvantaged populations, and mitigate climate change and disaster risks.”
Although access by the population to water is around 80 percent, the quality and available amount of drinking water per capita in the Palestinian territories do not meet World Health Organization standards. In addition, the availability and reliability of water have fallen sharply in the West Bank and in Gaza, which is heavily dependent on Israel for its water provision. The provision suffers from non-transparent pricing and significant arrears. In specific parts of the Palestinian territories, the population is often dependent on private groundwater and vendors. Reduced precipitation induced by climate change will affect aquifer replenishment and exacerbate water scarcity.
The World Bank’s US$25 million grant for the Water Security and Resilience Project will be supplemented by US$26 million in co-financing from the Partnership for Infrastructure Development Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PID MDTF ), which is administered by the Bank. It is the first in a series of projects aimed at supporting the implementation of key water and sanitation investments and reforms in line with the Palestinian Authority reform agenda. It will help develop the capacity of the water sector to design and implement measures to increase resilience to climate change and natural disasters.
The project will focus on extending access to safe water in the Jenin Governorate through investments in infrastructure. It will benefit around 100,000 residents within Jenin and villages northeast of the city. The project will also invest in strengthening the performance of sector institutions and building the Palestinian Water Authority’s capacity to develop and implement water sector policies and strategies toward the establishment of regional water utilities, greater cost efficiency, and cost recovery to tackle the arrears issue.
It will cover the operation and maintenance of the Hebron wastewater treatment plant. It will also support awareness-raising campaigns to improve service delivery to consumers and improve the responsiveness of service providers to client demand, based on reliable information systems and real-time communication with beneficiaries. In addition, preparatory studies are planned to assess different types of water and wastewater models and prepare future investments in the sector.
“Performance-based financing to Palestinian municipalities, serving up to 75 percent of the Palestinian population, continues to offer much-needed financial and institutional support to deliver urban infrastructure and services more effectively. The new municipal project will help further strengthen the financial sustainability of the local government sector,” added Emblad.
In addition to the World Bank’s US$15 million grant to the Resilient Municipal Services Project, US$7 million will be contributed by the PID MDTF. The project will support up to 159 municipalities in West Bank and Gaza through block grants and performance-based service delivery grants to ensure equity and incentive improved institutional and financial performance and ultimately improved service delivery at the local level.
The project builds on gains made from a series of municipal support projects and aims to boost policy and institutional reforms in support of an effective intergovernmental fiscal transfer system and develop tools to enhance municipal own-source revenues toward sustainable local governance. It will provide technical assistance and capacity building for key ministries and municipalities to improve regulatory oversight, increase transparency and accountability, improve local government revenues, improve enabling framework for public-private partnerships, and expand access of local governance units to private financing. In addition, technical assistance and financing to municipalities will also address natural hazards and climate change risks.