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ISRAELI FIRM HELPS PALESTINIANS IN GAZA TO GENERATE WATER FROM AIR

Watergen has developed atmospheric water generators that can produce 5,000 to 6,000 litres of drinking water per day, depending on the air's humidity, and donated two machines to the Gaza Strip, Guillaume Lavallee reported for the Agence France Presse (AFP).

Watergen's technology is suited to Gaza because it runs on solar panels, an asset in the enclave where the one power plant lacks the capacity to meet demand. The project is the brainchild of Russian-Israeli billionaire, Michael Mirilashvili, who laments that he cannot see his machines at work in Gaza, as Israelis are forbidden from entering the strip.


The densely populated Gaza Strip has long lacked sufficient drinking water, but a new project helps ease the shortage with a solar-powered process to extract potable water straight from the air.


Unusually, the project operating in the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, is the brainchild of a Russian-Israeli billionaire, Michael Mirilashvili.


The company he heads, Watergen, has developed the atmospheric water generators that can produce 5,000 to 6,000 liters (1,300 to more than 1,500 gallons) of drinking water per day, depending on the air's humidity. With just a few machines operating in Gaza, Watergen is far from meeting demand for the two million people who live in the crowded coastal enclave wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.


"But, it's a start," said Fathi Sheikh Khalil, an engineer with the Palestinian civil society group Damour, which operates one of the machines because Israeli firms cannot work in Gaza.


The strip, plagued by severe economic woes and regular power shortages, has also been facing a worsening water crisis for years.


Its overused aquifer has been degraded by saltwater intrusion and contaminated by pollutants, making most available water salty and dangerous to drink and forcing the import of bottled water.


Only three percent of Gaza's own water meets international standards, according to the United Nations, which had in 2012 predicted that ecological pressures would have made Gaza "unlivable" by now. Multiple studies have linked rising rates of kidney stones and high incidence of diarrhoea in Gaza to the consumption of sub-standard water.



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