Electronic Intifada Report on Desalination Projects in Gaza and Why MECA's Maia Project is Different
The Maia Project is a unique effort to provide clean, safe drinking water to children in Gaza. We wanted to share a bit more information about the project's methods in order to assure our supporters that we are not falling into the trappings of other desalination projects that EI uncovered in its report Water desalination projects to solve Gaza’s problems: a wolf in sheep’s clothing?.
From the beginning, the Maia Project was a grassroots effort. The project idea came from school children in Gaza themselves, not from a team of development experts. The project is also joint effort of the Middle East Children's Alliance and a local Palestinian NGO called Afaq Jadeeda. Together we designed this project to maximize investment in local labor and materials. The purification and desalination units are built and installed by Palestinian companies and made with 80% local materials. This is critical to the success of the project given the ongoing siege of Gaza and also is in line with both MECA and Afaq Jadeeda's vision for strengthening Palestinian communities.
The units are installed in UNRWA schools in Palestinian refugee camps and in kindergartens run by community organizations in towns, villages, and refugee camps. There are now 38 units spread throughout the Gaza Strip. This decentralization means they are not as easily destroyed by Israeli attacks on infrastructure.
We at the Middle East Children's Alliance also recognize that the Maia Project is not a substitute for demanding Palestinian water rights which is why we speak out about the root causes of the water crisis in Palestine during presentations, are an active member of the EWASH coalition which runs the Thirsting For Justice Campaign. and have endorsed the Marseille Declaration in support of Palestinian water rights that came out of the 2012 Alternative Water Forum.
We are working for the day when Palestinian rights, including the right to water, are realized. But in the interim, the Maia Project meets a vital need and provides tens of thousands of children with safe, clean drinking water.