Improved and more efficient water and waste water management is a major challenge facing local governments in the Eastern Mediterranean, where natural water resources are scarce and threatened by over-exploitation. Although there are piped sewerage systems in parts of larger cities, there is usually no waste water treatment and, in most urban areas, particularly smaller ones, households still rely on cesspits or septic tanks. This results in continuous contamination of groundwater resources.
For example, in the Mount Liban district of Lebanon there is a very basic and poorly maintained wastewater management system in only two of the nine municipalities participating in the project. The other seven have no wastewater management system at all. Meanwhile, in the Jordan valley, close to the lowest point on earth (250 m below sea level), the city of Jericho is threatened by flooding and run-off water. The non-regulated use of river water, contaminated water and the lack of water treatment facilities results in insufficient water in summer for drinking water and agricultural needs. This results in diseases where people resort to using contaminated water.
The project will help Lebanese and Palestinian partner municipalities train theirstaff on-the-job to develop surface water management and flood control plans (in Jericho) and decentralized wastewater treatment (in the Lebanese Chouf municipalities). It will also help implement selected pilot projects and work with NGOs to educate local communities about safe practices.
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