My city planner friends will appreciate this.
Almost every community in the USA has prepared a CIP (capital improvements plan). In the “old days,” the CIP was merely a wish list of infrastructure that the municipality hoped the state or others might pay for —- like water & sewer pipes, roads, sidewalks, parks, and other things that might be considered a “public improvement.” Planners and engineers typically put their two-cents into the preparation of the CIP, and sometimes they actually consulted the community’s master plan for development.
The CIP evolved into a budget process. How much would the city need next year? in five years? and even 10 years into the future to pay for all of the infrastructure it anticipated it would need, and to repair the old pipes and roads? Most cities found it much more tempting to build new infrastructure sprawling out to the suburbs, rather than repairing any deficiencies in the existing system. Now they’re beginning to pay the piper.
The biggest challenge any American planner might have had in preparing the CIP was collecting all of the estimates (how many new wells or pipes? and how much would it cost?)
- There was a military assault on the Gaza Strip this summer which lasted for 51 days. Imagine the damage that was done during that time.
- The sole power generating plant was bombed by Israel. Imagine trying to run pumping stations, sewage treatment plants, wells, hospitals, and anything else that requires power when there’s no power.
- Israel monitors (approves and denies) everything that goes into the Gaza Strip. Imagine if your CIP depended on your neighboring community to provide the material and equipment for implementation.
- Israel periodically shells the Gaza Strip (no place is safe) and destroys what was recently repaired. There have been three major assaults in the past 7 years. Imagine if the city council and state legislature issued G-O bonds for your infrastructure projects with a 10-15-20 year repayment schedule, but the project was destroyed in 3 years.
Really, there is no comparison. None at all.
Preliminary findings from some communities interviewed during the assessment include the important information that water services which are being delivered by municipalities are not always reaching the affected communities despite the best efforts. This is most likely due to hidden damages and frequent power cuts interrupting network pressure. For instance, in the Ash Shuja’iyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, one carrier line that was not classified as damaged was found filled with mud and debris on Tuesday. Although water was being pumped into the system, households along the street were not receiving any water. Other areas of Ash Shuja’iyeh were reported to only receiving water on alternating days for 1-3 hours, although the service providers were pumping water into the network daily for up to 8 hours.
Planners and engineers in the USA don’t have much experience preparing CIPs in war-time or for communities under occupation and a long-term siege, like the Gaza Strip. Can you imagine ever writing the following in one of your CIPs? “Thanks and appreciations are forwarded to the technical teams who have risked their lives to maintain some of the serious damages and had kept to the extent possible the operation of some facilities during the war.”
I don’t know any city employees or public works officials who have been asked to risk their lives to repair a broken water main while under shelling and missile strikes. Several engineers lost their lives in Gaza this summer when they ventured out to fix busted water pipes in critical areas of the community and were shot and killed by the Israeli military.
Water resources and water supply in the Gaza Strip: The majority of water is pumped from 205 groundwater wells (tube wells) that tap into the Gaza underlying aquifer. Only a small amount of water is imported from Mekorot. Due to the deterioration of the aquifer, the water from the municipal network is not potable because it is too saline. Therefore potable water (i.e. water for drinking) has to be supplied separately. In areas where CMWU has already constructed desalination plants, the water is ‘blended’ with the saline groundwater and then becomes potable. However, in all other areas, potable water is produced by the private sector and is supplied by water rucking. The fact that this water trucking depends on an unregulated private sector has led to major problems in emergency response. An Emergency Water Tankering Working Group, led by the Palestinian Water Authority has been established and PWA drafted a “Quality Standards for Drinking Water in Emergencies” tip sheet. This will help regulate the distribution process and control the prices.
Any rational response to the CIPs prepared by the planners and engineers in the Gaza Strip in August 2014 would be:
- Demand that Israel lift the siege.
- Demand that Israel absorb the costs of rebuilding and reconstruction. (“You broke it, you fix it.”)
- Demand that Israel abide by international law and the 4th Geneva Convention which prohibits collective punishment.
How will donors, meeting next week in Cairo, respond?
- How much $$ do you need?
- Whose palms do we need to grease before the equipment and materials will be allowed to enter Gaza?
- How can we benefit our well-meaning NGOs and donors — their contractors and agencies — in this process?
And the voices of Palestinians in Gaza will not be heard or considered. Forget about an open and transparent public process.