A machine that produces safe, clean drinking water out of air—manufactured by the Israel-based company Watergen—was inaugurated on Wednesday in the neighborhood of Abasan al-Kabira in the Gaza Strip as part of a pilot project.

The “GEN-M” it is an atmospheric water generator (AWG) that weighs 780 kilograms and can make as much as 800 liters of water per day.

Gaza’s main source of water is its coastal aquifer; however, its water supply has been rapidly depleting over the last several decades due to overextraction. The reduced water levels have resulted in saline water seeping in, further polluting the water in the aquifer.

More than 90 percent of water from the aquifer is unfit for consumption; as a result, Gazans have been forced to turn to the more expensive option of purchasing desalinated water from local desalination plants.

The GEN-M will be connected to solar panels, providing the AWG with a source of power.

Installing solar panels for GEN-M pilot project in Gaza to provide residents with clean drinking water, Feb. 12, 2020. Credit: Damour For Community Development.

Watergen’s management said “responding in accordance with our belief that every human being, regardless of race, gender or religion has a fundamental right to clean drinking water, we are helping some of Israel’s next-door neighbors gain access to freshwater—a resource lacking in Gaza. We hope that our provision of an AWG will help solve the water crisis and serve as a step forward towards mutual collaboration in the Middle East.”

The pilot project is a result of cooperative efforts between Watergen, Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Palestinian NGO Damour for Community Development and the Abasan al-Kabira municipality. The Kennedy Leigh Foundation is funding the pilot as part of the Arava Institute’s Track II Environmental Forum.

The Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) to the Gaza Strip had overseen the transportation of the GEN-M into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Head of the CLA, Maj. Gen. Iyyad Sarchan approved the shipment of the GEN-M as part of a policy that seeks to prevent any further deterioration to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip associated with the enclave’s lack of fresh water.

Tasting water from the GEN-M machine in the Gazan neighborhood of Abasan al-Kabira, Feb. 12, 2020. Credit: Damour for Community Development.

Watergen’s patented, heat-exchange GENius technology contained in the GEN-M creates water by cooling collected air at its dew point. Subsequently, the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment, followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.

Each GEN-M unit contains an internal water treatment system and needs no infrastructure except a source of electricity in order to operate.

David Lehrer, director of the Arava Institute, said “the introduction of Watergen into Gaza is not only a proof of concept for a cutting-edge technology, but proof that Palestinians and Israelis can do more than launch attacks at each other. We can instead work together to improve lives, solve humanitarian problems, build trust and restore hope.”

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