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Gaza Drinking Water Project

Providing an innovative solution to Gaza's water crisis through the production and distribution of clean, affordable water.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

Our social enterprise will provide an innovative solution to Gaza's water crisis. By bringing new technology, we aim to produce, bottle and distribute affordable 10,000 m3 a day of drinking water.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Shurook is a deal-catalyst to solve critical West Bank / Gaza public issues with the private sector.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

Since Q2 2016, our team has: analyzed Gaza's water sector (public / private), mapped all water supplies, obtained pre-approval from authorities on all sides, selected best site location, approached innovative technology providers, completed commercial and preliminary technical feasibility studies.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

In Gaza, the world worst urban drinking water crisis is fueling the current conflict. Imported bottles are unaffordable for 98% of the population. All other sources (tap, trucked water, wells) are prohibitively costly, inconsistent and polluted chemically or bacteriologically.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Due to the political volatility, the project is designed to be implemented in 24 months: Q2 '17 Technical study (completed); confirm CAPEX (to be finalized); Q3 '17 Refine products, pricing, and operating model (with community); confirm land status and PPA agreement, and approach investors; Q2 ’18 Lockdown investors (debt/equity), set-up SVP, final selection of technology partner; Q4 '18 Finalize import permits with Israeli authorities; permits from Ministry of Health.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

Shurook is coordinating the project (strategy, studies, permitting, interface with authorities). GPGC will share their infrastructure and provide local team (technical and commercial). Technical partners will provide studies and discounted assets. Investors will provide equity.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Other: Please Say in Final Question of this Submission Form

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Better understand my user or community

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

1) Quantitative analysis: (i) water quality supervision (Ministry of Health), (ii) daily/weekly production volumes, (iii) breakdown of sales by product. 2) Qualitative analysis: (i) direct impact to customer (focus groups, discussion on health impact with local clinics), (ii) broader impact on the water sector in Gaza (we hope the new factory will push for more sanitary standards), (iii) promotion of coordination between international development community and local private sector.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

(Non-exhaustive list): (i) convenient “on call” trucked water delivery, (ii) central bottling lines for 5 gallon bottles with handles, rather than without, despite higher upfront cost (+30%), (iii) decentralized sachet bottling facilities in each neighborhood as opposed to centralized production, to enable retailers to buy stock regularly and locally.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

What we need the most support within this project includes a combination of finding business development/partnerships, getting exposure, and understanding our user and community better.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

SUMMARY

This idea is a social enterprise. It tackles the problem of access to clean and affordable drinking water in the Gaza Strip. Water from wells is polluted and represents a major health hazard, bottled water remains unaffordable for 95% of the population, and all other sources are untrustworthy and inconsistent.

Our idea addresses the problem by providing clean and affordable bottled drinking water for the Gazan population. We plan to do so through the installation of an energy-efficient desalination plant that bottles the clean drinking water instead of reintroducing it into the polluted water systems in the Gaza Strip.

We believe that our idea is at the crossroads of peace, planet, and prosperity:

  • Prosperity: our project provides access to clean drinking water for communities that currently lacks it, while providing quality employment opportunities. Our project will contribute to reduced overall water costs for the local population and improved health outcomes.
  • Peace: our project will contribute to directly mitigate conflicts linked to water in the Gaza strip. More generally our project will contribute to stability in a volatile region
  • Planet: our project will allow to reduce the pressure on the Gaza aquifer by using sea water as a water source. Our project introduces the use of reusable polycarbonate bottles which are not currently used in Gaza as opposed to disposable containers;


OVERVIEW

In the Gaza Strip, 2 million people are facing one of the world’s worst drinking water crisis in an urban setting. In fact, the United Nations believe that the Gaza Strip could become fully uninhabitable by 2020.

Just like most urban areas in lowest income countries, water on tap is rare and polluted. Tap water, extracted from a contaminated and rapidly disappearing aquifer, is saline and polluted with bacteria and heavy metals: undrinkable, and unusable even for basic cleaning.

Low-income families purchase at high-cost water from unregulated private vendors which offer no guarantees in terms of quality or safety. The water from these wells represent a major health hazard: currently, approximately a third of diseases in the Gaza Strip are water-related. Imported bottled water is sometimes available in higher end stores, but at 0.25 USD per liter, which remains unaffordable for 95% of the population. The worsening water crisis stirs anger and resentment from the population against the current political situation.

It does not have to be this way.

Our team is looking to locally produce, package and distribute clean, affordable drinking water. Water will be packaged in low cost, reusable polycarbonate bottles, which while common in Africa and the rest of the Middle-East, have never been used in Gaza. A small, “off-the-shelve” sea-desalination plant and bottling facility would allow to produce, package and distribute about 80,000 bottles of 20 L per day.

Our project, in partnership with public institutions and the local private sector, is currently in the detailed planning phase, after over 6 months of in-depth technical research and field work.

MEET ASMA, A MOTHER OF FOUR STRUGGLING TO FIND CLEAN DRINKING WATER IN GAZA 

Asma is a young and educated housewife living in one of Gaza City’s surrounding towns. With a bachelor degree, her husband is more qualified than the majority of the Gazan population and is lucky enough to have a full-time job, in a region with more than 50% unemployment. While Asma’s family has more privileges than most, when it comes to water, all Gazans suffer equally.

Asma’s tap water is dry in summer. In winter, it is so polluted that it shouldn’t be used for showering or cleaning clothes. Asma would prefer to buy bottled water, but bottled water isn’t available in her community – and transport to Gaza city is expensive in the absence of public transport. For drinking and cooking, Asma buys 500 liters each month from truck vendors, which she doesn’t trust but, as she puts it, “we have no choice”. Every two weeks, before the arrival of the water truck, Asma scrubs and clean the household’s 200-liter tank, – a fastidious and time-consuming job.

Water is a constant worry for Asma and her family: which vendor to trust? Should I boil this water? Should we buy a filter? She doesn’t trust the grocery store that refills jerrycans: the tank is outdoors, near garbage cans, and stray dogs come to lick drops from its tap. In the absence of regulation and test, Asma looks at the color and taste of water to determine if it is safe to drink. What Asma does not know, is that her water is also chemically contaminated.


Asma’s sister who works in a nearby hospital tells her about the increasing number of water disease cases she witnesses. Water diseases now constitute 1/3 of all illnesses in the strip. This becomes a heavy source of stress and anxiety on a population already tired from years of conflict and privations.

The local municipalities have no means to test the water or guarantee its quality. Some water tank owners are more careful than others on the source of the water, but at the end of the day, all water is pumped from the aquifer. This can lead to long-term health hazards that are seldom understood locally, and a rise in longer-term diseases is already visible.

WATER CONSUMPTION IN THE GAZA STRIP: BACKGROUND INFORMATION

In Gaza, tap water supply is intermittent, with just 48% of households supplied with running water four to seven days per week and 52% of households supplied three days or less. 95% of this tap water is too salty to be drinkable or even used for appliances and cleaning.

This leaves Gazans reliant on non-municipal private sector providers:

  • The wealthiest 1% purchase imported water bottles (USD $0.3 – 0.5 per liter)
  • The less well-off rely on roof tanks which are filled 2-4 times a month by a water truck ($USD 8-12 per cm). Water trucks are unregulated and offer no guarantees in terms of quality or safety, and most water sold is contaminated (chemically and bacteriologically). Contamination, which occurs systematically during distribution, often starts at the water well, as Gaza’s aquifer has become increasingly contaminated with untreated sewage.
  • The poorest families pay USD $0.25 for the right to fill a rectangular-shaped, 18-liter container from a tap at water tanks operated by local shop owners.  (see Figure 1). This water is typically the most contaminated.

 

94% of the 160 million cubic meters of water consumed annually in Gaza is extracted from the aquifer, Gaza’s only local freshwater source. This aquifer is rapidly depleting at a rate that will render it fully unusable by 2020. In parallel, with steady population growth, overall demand for drinking water will increase by over 60% between today and 2020. In 2020, total water needs in 2020 could reach 270 million cubic meters.


WHERE WE STAND ON THE SOLUTION

This project is in the feasibility study phase after over 11 months of in-depth feasibility research at the technical level.

Technical studies

  • Identified a suitable site for the water production plant and bottling facility, with limited on-site infrastructure (lower CAPEX) and access to cheapest and most reliable power in Gaza (lower OPEX);
  • Obtained in-principle policy approvals from all relevant stakeholders including Israeli Authorities, government bodies in Palestine;
  • Mapped authorization processes for the project life cycle;
  • Commissioned and received technical feasibility study, conducted by AECOM;
  • Shortlisted EPC contractors – awaiting pricing proposal.


Commercial studies

  • Conducted international benchmarks in comparable markets;
  • Conducted preliminary research on the Gaza water market and the distribution methods used locally;
  • Built an early business plan and financial model to test the viability of the social venture.

Investors:

  • Our team has started early stage engagement with possible investors and private sector partners – including the Gaza Power Generation Company (GPGC) and the Consolidated Construction Company (CCC).

 

Figure 1: Gaza Power Plant and Mayet Al Ahel site planAhel site plan


 Figure 2: Detailed technical drawing for Mayet Al Ahel


Figure 3: Snapshot of Gaza Power Plant Site and Ocean Intake Pumping Station


Figure 4: Gaza Power Plant Site 


KEY GOVERNMENT STAKEHOLDERS 

  •  Government of Israel / Coordination of Government Operations in the Territories (COGAT): COGAT is responsible for policies and strategic decisions regarding entry of good and people in West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For projects like ours, COGAT is the contact point with the different Israeli governmental entities. 


  • Government of Israel / The Coordination and Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip (Gaza CLA): Gaza CLA controls and authorizes the daily traffic of goods and people into and out of Gaza (implementation body). Shurook is in direct contact with Gaza CLA for the entry of our team into and out of Gaza. Shurook will also coordinate with Gaza CLA for the entry of the containerized desalination plant into Gaza.


  • Palestinian Water Authority (PWA): sets water laws, issues production licenses, and monitors water quality from producers. We have assessed from the start the appetite of the PWA in Gaza to support this initiative, and we are regularly checking that the project does fit within the overall strategic plan for the water sector.


  • Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU): the CMWU acts as sole network distributor, oversees maintenance and reconstruction of the water system. We similarly have an open discussion channel with the CMWU. We have planned in our business plan to push up to 10% of the water produced by Mayt Al Ahel in the CMWU network for free, as a “corporate social responsibility” component: this is to ensure buy-in from the local authorities. 


  • Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH): sets standards and monitors water quality for commercial drinking water; also, issue authorizations for bottling facilities. The current Palestinian drinking water quality standards are low: we are working with the MoH to define better standards that would still be technically and financially achievable for Mayt Al Ahel.

 

 ENGAGEMENT WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Note: for the time being, our team travels in and out of Gaza frequently, but is not based there. To increase our engagement with the local community, we have started the process of identifying a young Gazan to join our team and be our contact person on site.

  • Water truck operators: we are currently focusing our co-creation work with the local water trucks operators. Given the complexities of importing new trucks into Gaza, and given the need for local ownership, our business model today relies on 3rd party truck owners/drivers – with only a few trucks imported and owned/operated by Mayt Al Ahel. We know that water trucks owners and drivers are organized in a complex, opaque eco-system. We are currently working on i) better understanding this eco-system, ii) identifying a few first truck owners with whom to start the co-creation. We would like some of these truck owners to work with us (co-creation) as we design jointly pricing mechanisms, collaboration mechanisms, training program to maintain water quality, etc... Ultimately, these truck owners would be ambassadors for our project.


  • Grocery store owners: in a second step, we plan to work similarly with grocery store owners to select some ambassadors for the project and to better jointly define the exact distribution model for bottles and sachets.


  • Awareness campaign (ideally in collaboration with donors/international organizations): Based on conversations with inhabitants, local authorities, and local public figures, we learned that many Gazans still lack knowledge to fully understand the extent to which their water is today contaminated (i.e., not only bacteriological contamination but also high levels of chemical contamination which are harmful in the mid/long run), as well as how water gets contaminated. Many Gazans are today relying on “proxy” methods to guess if water is safe to drink such as taste and color – and these methods are not a good predictor of quality. We want with the campaign to ensure that all Gazans to be able to assess the quality of their drinking water. The awareness campaign will ultimately start in parallel with the execution of Mayet Al Ahel project.

 

  CONTINGENCY PLAN

  • There are a few scenarios in which we would have to cancel or suspend the project, most notably if security deteriorates (war, insurgent groups). A scenario in which our team is denied entry in Gaza would also force us to pause our project. Fortunately, for the time being, the security situation in the Gaza strip is stable and acceptable. Kindly note that Shurook team’s security inside the Gaza strip is currently managed by the United Nations;

  

  • There is another scenario, in which we would fail to secure the necessary partnerships, the equity or debt for the project. In that case, we would want to start working with 1-3 existing water desalination plants in Gaza. These existing plants have a major issue that they are not fuel efficient (cost impact) and that they tap into the rarefying aquifer (environmental impact). Yet, working with these water desalination plants as well as with a small number of trucks would allow us to 1) pilot packaging in pouches; 2) pilot distribution to grocery stores; 3) pilot truck driver training program to ensure water cleanliness, 4) establish the brand;

  

  • Success in the pilots would allow us to: generate interest from possible equity/debt partner or generate interest from the donor community, which could fund our project on a grant basis;


  • So why are we not starting with the pilot? Our understanding is that setting up the pilot will require as much effort/time from the team as setting up the 1st phase of Mayt Al Ahel. The cost of working on the pilot alone isn’t much lower than the pre-developing cost of the larger project (staff/travel costs, legal studies, set-up of SPV, etc.). We also want to focus on the larger project as long as the security situation and regulations allow for it (window of opportunity).

Explain your idea

Our team is looking to set-up a 15 m USD sea desalination and bottling facility in the Gaza Strip as a social enterprise – under a 2-year time-frame: 1) Using new technology: • Central containerized desalination units are fast to deploy (plug and play) and easier to import given the current constraints around the Gaza blockade; The desalination plant will start with 2400 m2/day in production will be composed of pre-assembled, containerized units which are completed outside of Gaza, transported in via semi-trucks, and then connected to onsite infrastructure in place within a week. This simpler process dramatically reduces time needed for detailed designs and feasibility studies and limits need to import restricted materials – such as concrete and steel – into Gaza. • Possibility to add decentralized water production as well with Air to Water technologies (distribution cost trade-off) 2) Leverage existing distribution network and creating new, quality jobs both at the plant and in the distribution and retail chain (200+ jobs creation). We are aiming to lower the carbon footprint of the desalination and bottling plant in several ways. We will be introducing solar panels to the design in order to power office buildings and provide up to 10% of power needs. We have also decided on the most efficient location in Gaza through co-locating with the power plant. This means less power losses, better energy conversion, less water intake and pumping. We also have a TOR for plant design (several corporations working on it) with energy efficiency as central component. All other plants in the area send brine into the local aquifer polluting it and making it unusable by 2020. We will be the only private plant that does not rely on the aquifer and will support its regeneration. Given all the constraints and requirements of the region, we are aiming to make our plant as energy efficient as possible in order to lower our carbon footprint. This would ultimately make us the most environmentally friendly plant in the area. Furthermore, our plant aims to create a significant number of jobs. Early estimates indicate 30 jobs at the plant and 6 times the amount in distribution and retail. The salaries would be comparable with the Palestinian private sector (which offers a minimum wage of $375). Given the extremely high unemployment rates in Gaza, the estimated 210 jobs that can potentially be created will have a significant positive impact.

Who Benefits?

Our central beneficiaries for this initiative are the 500,000 Gazan families who currently fill 18-liter tanks from private trunks or at a grocery store owned metal tanks. Furthermore, we believe there are 4 axes for impact: • Health impacts: Healthier children, and reduced pressure on the already weak health care system. Mitigation of long-term consequences of 2 million people daily in contact with heavy chemicals; direct impact dialysis, nurseries; • Economic impact: lower cost of drinking water, high-quality job creation in production, distribution and retail; • Environmental impact: Reduced pressure on digging new illegal wells and supports the restoration of the natural aquifer; and • Peace impact: local brand as a source of local pride; priceless peace of mind in terms of being able to trust water source.

How is your idea unique?

We believe our solution in unique in 4 distinct ways 1. First clean drinking water production facility in Gaza – not a single vendor meet standards; 2. Package water in sealed and branded containers which can be trusted, at a price that is affordable for the population; 3. Project set-up as a partnership between private and international non-profit actor – as the project isn’t typically “invest-able” project in the typical sense. We are working closely with and building bridges between the local private sector (including the Gaza Power Generating Company), the international private sector (experts in bottling, etc…), Palestinian Authorities, and relevant Israeli authorities; 4. Considers Gaza’s particularities and legal/environmental constraints (Gaza blockade) to optimize production costs and lower deployment time.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about you

Shurook, is a project office locally administered by UNOPS. Shurook supports the emergence of economically viable infrastructure projects in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, which are deemed essential to economic growth and social development. Operating as a project catalyst, Shurook identifies and develops infrastructure projects from the early concept stage until successful funding, including completing feasibility studies and managing complex permitting processes. Read more at shurook.org Shurook was founded in April 2016, with staff bring experience from top international and local institutions and universities. Staff come from Palestine and Israel, as well as around the world. The team currently includes former management consultants, and regional experts to design and implement projects. Our team has significant experience in start-ups and early ventures. As part of the NGO community in Jerusalem, Shurook is uniquely positioned to travel in and out of the Gaza Strip, which is currently experiencing a blockade. This allows us to be the deal catalysts and bring the appropriate people together from all sides (Gazan, Israeli, and international) that are necessary to make this project a success. The team who is working on this project include: Cassandre Pignon, David Khoury, Yusef Srouji, and Yahya Khawashki. Please feel free to visit our website at: www.shurook.org/

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

16 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Yusef
Team

Dear IDEO Team,

Kindly find a link to our project budget for your reference:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/smuu8aesejz1bjm/ADS%20Feasiblity%20Study_v1.pdf?dl=0

Thank you,
Shurook Team

Photo of Yusef
Team

Dear IDEO Team,

Kindly find a link to our technical feasibility study that was done by AECOM and our business plan for your reference:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/cbde4dj698zdgqj/AADtg8jWODywJtWgP2kJ3HEGa?dl=0

Thank you,
Shurook Team

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Yusef,

The deadline to respond to expert feedback is this Friday at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to me,

As the challenge is in the final stages, are there any organisations operating in certain geographies or sectors you are keen to connect to for this project and in general (aside from the ones mentioned below)?

Photo of Yusef
Team

Dear Kate,

Thank you for the comment. As we refine our project, we will at some point want to hear from drinking water companies in Africa, which are also operating on a low-cost model, on their own experience, failures, etc.

Best regards,
Shurook Team

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Yusef and Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from our expert reviewers. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Based on expert career, previous work and field experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question:
• The need is certainly urgent, and the organization does a fantastic job of articulating this in the proposal. The attention to nuance and local embededness makes the approach seem bold and innovative. It is clear they are user centered in their work.
• I’m curious about the decentralized model of responsibility – between Shurook, on the ground actors, and investors. I see some risks with this model, and maintaining connectivity around vision/mission at each stage of implementation. Serving as a “deal catalyst” is not so new, but if it works in the context of this project and urgent issue, I definitely would categorize it as bold.

Desirability and Viability of proposal:
• Highly desirable, and very important. The business plan, as laid out appears sound, although I do question the dispersion of responsibility. Appreciate their acknowledgement of a 24 month timeline, given local context.
• Curious about desirability, it is clear that this is an urgent need in the geography, but I would love to see more context around the end users and what they see as an ideal solution. Is there some aspect of co-creation that might strengthen this work and ensure local/community sustainability? Hopefully. Is there a way to more intentionally engage – and more importantly empower-- the local community and neighborhoods? Ambassadors, neighborhood spokespeople, local leaders?

Feasibility of proposal (is this an idea that could be brought to life?):
• Yes, this idea seems feasible. They’ve done a great job of explaining their roadmap. What I think is even more important is the feasibility of this project to grow/evolve eventually with user needs – was impressed by their identification of what has changed due to beneficiary feedback.
• They mention that exposure is a need. I think confidence in feasibility (and growth) would be bolstered if they could focus on channeling the user persona and storytelling work done into bold content. The meat is there, and as an “audience member”, I think this could be a great first step in telling the world about their work and this important issue.

Other questions or suggestions our experts felt would support the assessment or success of your idea:
• Great proposal. We’d love to learn more about if/how the organization is considering challenges from the governmental/policy lens. It’s clear you are thinking about this aspect, which is important, though more granular information here would strengthen proposal (How might the proposal be influenced from this perspective? Are there additional strategic partnerships that may, at some point in the roadmap, need to be put into place?)
• Given the project is scoped to be implemented in a volatile (and important) geography, would be helpful to understand the contingency plan. Has thought been put behind what is a Plan B, should partnerships or local stability become insecure? Great proposal, I commend the bravery of establishing a project in a high/urgent need and high risk environment.

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: http://ideo.to/DXld5g Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 16 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.
 
Have questions? Email us at bridgebuilder@ideo.com.
 
Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Yusef
Team

Dear IDEO team,

Thank you for your comments – these are very useful and much appreciated as we continue to further develop our project. Please find our response to your comments in parts 1, 2 and 3.

Part 1

• On the dispersion of responsibility:

- Our project has a number of stakeholders besides Shurook. This is a deliberate decision. We listened and learned from the successes and failures of other water projects led by the local private sector or by NGO and development organizations inside the Gaza strip. Through this process, we learned that we needed a mix of partners to move our water project forward, with each partner bringing contextual knowledge/connection with local authorities/ critical physical asset that the project needed to succeed. We also realized the need for a central organization to hold the project together and ensure that each partner contributes in its own area of expertise – this is the role of Shurook.

- While we have indeed several partners, we also made sure, in our project design, to limit what we call structural dependencies. We defined “structural dependencies” as a dependency on a piece of infrastructure/ piece of legislation, etc. that does not exist yet and on which we have little to no leverage. For instance, we structured the proposal to ensure the project isn’t dependent on the Gaza power grid to be fixed or power deliveries from Israel to increase: the project is co-located with an independent power plant. We also designed the project as a “water factory” which allows the project to sit under a simplified and clear regulatory framework in comparison with the framework for utilities which does not have clear rules for PPP at the present moment.

• On desirability from an end-user perspective:

- Before the blockade, Gazans had clean drinking water on tap. From our interviews, in an ideal world, Gazans would rather have drinking water on tap. Gaza’s population is mostly urban and well-educated. They have the memory of a well-functioning city and the expectations of the middle class in a middle-income country.

- However, Gazans are also realistic. In the current circumstances, considering 1) the very limited water production capacity of the local water authorities and 2) the extent of the damage in the water distribution network (50% water losses through leaks), Gazans that we interviewed do not see drinking water on tap for all as a realistic possibility for the next 8-10 years at least. The international community along with the various Palestinians governmental entities in Gaza and the West Bank are working to address 1) and 2), yet they also acknowledge that this will take a very long time – especially given the constraints on imports of materials.

- Therefore, we are working on a shorter-term solution: trucking and bottled water with a “traceability” which will allow people to build “trust” in a brand and in a clean, reasonably priced product. The availability of reasonably priced, clean drinking water from a traceable source which does not deplete Gaza’s aquifer would be a significant improvement on the current situation.

• On engagement with the local community in co-creation / co-ownership:

- This is indeed an essential point. For the moment, our team travels in and out of Gaza frequently but is not based there. To increase our engagement with the local community, we have started the process of identifying a young Gazan to join our team and be our contact person on site.

- On co-creation, we are currently focusing on the collaboration with local water trucks operators. Given the complexities of importing new trucks into Gaza, and given the need for local ownership, our business model today relies on 3rd party truck owners/drivers – with only a few trucks imported and owned/operated by Mayt Al Ahel. We know that water trucks owners and drivers are organized in a complex, opaque eco-system. We are currently working on i) better understanding this eco-system, ii) identifying a few first truck owners with whom to start the co-creation. We would like some of these truck owners to work with us (co-creation) as we design jointly pricing mechanisms, collaboration mechanisms, a training program to maintain water quality, etc... Ultimately, these truck owners would be ambassadors for our project.

- In a second step, we plan to work similarly with grocery store owners to select some ambassadors for the project and to better jointly define the exact distribution model for bottles and sachets.

Photo of Yusef
Team

Part 2

• On engagement with the local community in co-creation / co-ownership (continued):

- We are also planning a large communication/awareness campaign (ideally in collaboration with donors/international organizations). Based on conversation with inhabitants, local authorities, and local public figures, and while Gazans understand the water they drink is polluted, many of them still lack knowledge to fully understand the extent to which their water is today contaminated (i.e., not only bacteriological contamination, but also high levels of chemical contamination which are harmful in the mid/long run), as well as how water gets contaminated. Many Gazans are today relying on “proxy” methods to guess if water is safe to drink such as taste and color – and these methods are not a good predictor of quality. We want with the campaign to ensure that all Gazans to be able to assess the quality of their drinking water. The awareness campaign will ultimately start in parallel with the execution of Mayet Al Ahel project.

• On challenges from the policy/governmental lens:

₋ The support of the various governmental institutions involved is critical to our project’s success. For this reason, we started the project design by doing an exercise of refining the boundaries of what is acceptable from the perspective of each institution involved, whether on the Israeli or Palestinian side.

₋ For instance, it is complicated to import most of the materials needed to build a classic SWRO plant in Gaza because of what is called the “Dual-Use list.” Any material that can, in theory, be used for a military usage (including cement and steel bars) can take up to 24 months to import, as each individual item must be approved by several Israeli government entities. These materials can always be denied entry at the check-point at the last moment. This is one of the reasons why we are proposing a containerized desalination plant (as opposed to a classic desalination plant). With our proposed design, we do not need to import loose cement or individual steel bars – the plant is pre-built inside containers, and the containers can simply be assembled inside Gaza like Lego bricks.

₋ Below is a list of the governmental actors we are working most closely with, as well as some details on how we are engaging each actor:

o Palestinian Water Authority (PWA): sets water laws, issues production licenses, and monitors water quality from producers. We have assessed from the start the appetite of the PWA in Gaza to support this initiative, and we are regularly checking that the project does fit within the overall strategic plan for the water sector;

o Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU): the CMWU acts as sole network distributor, oversees maintenance and reconstruction of the water system. We similarly have an open discussion channel with the CMWU. We have planned in our business plan to push up to 10% of the water produced by Mayt Al Ahel in the CMWU network for free, as a “corporate social responsibility” component: this is to ensure buy-in from the local authorities.

o Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH): sets standards and monitors water quality for commercial drinking water; also, issue authorizations for bottling facilities. The current Palestinian drinking water quality standards are low: we are working with the MoH to define better standards that would still be technically and financially achievable for Mayt Al Ahel.

o Government of Israel / Coordination of Government Operations in the Territories (COGAT): COGAT is responsible for policies and strategic decisions regarding entry of good and people in West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For projects like ours, COGAT is the contact point with the different Israeli governmental entities.

o Government of Israel / The Coordination and Liaison Administration to the Gaza Strip (Gaza CLA): Gaza CLA controls and authorizes the daily traffic of goods and people into and out of Gaza (implementation body). Shurook is in direct contact with Gaza CLA for the entry of our team into and out of Gaza. Shurook will also coordinate with Gaza CLA for the entry of the containerized desalination plant into Gaza.

Photo of Yusef
Team

Part 3

• On contingency planning:

We have developed high-level contingency plans which are outlined below. However, our team also acknowledges that there are scenarios in which we would have to cancel or suspend the project.
Scenarios in which we must suspend/stop the project:

- If the local security situation deteriorates (Examples: war, insurgent groups). Currently, the security situation in Gaza is reasonable.

₋ If restrictions on movement of goods and people into Gaza increases (for instance: if our team and our partners are denied entry into Gaza, if the number of items on the dual-use list increases, etc.);

Contingency scenario – in case partnership with CCC fall through / new regulations prevents us from importing the SWRO and bottling equipment and or we fail to secure sufficient equity and/or debt:

₋ In this scenario, we would start a partnership with 1-3 existing water desalination plants in Gaza. These existing plants have a major issue that they are not fuel efficient (cost impact) and that they tap into the rarefying aquifer. Yet, working with these water desalination plants as well as with a small number of trucks would allow us to 1) pilot packaging in pouches; 2) pilot distribution to grocery stores; 3) pilot truck driver training program to ensure water cleanliness, 4) establish the brand.

₋ Success in the pilots would allow us to (depending on the case): generate interest from possible equity/debt partner or generate interest from the donor community, which could fund our project on a grant basis.

₋ So why are we not starting with the pilot? Our understanding is that setting up the pilot will require as much effort/time from the team as setting up the 1st phase of Mayt Al Ahel. The cost of working on the pilot alone isn’t much lower than the pre-developing cost of the larger project (staff/travel costs, legal studies, set-up of SPV, etc.). We also want to focus on the larger project as long as the security situation and regulations allow for it (window of opportunity).

Thank you,
Shurook Team

Photo of Naureen C
Team

Hi Yusef

This is an amazing and long overdue initiative by your team! Most certainly it will change people's lives.

As you have already mentioned political volatility is an issue that has contributed to the current water situation and will make it difficult to implement this project. Have you identified other risks that this project could face and how to overcome them? Apart from an obvious risk of not securing enough funding to proceed, this project has a very diverse group of stakeholders - could this possibly contribute to any additional risks?

Photo of Yusef
Team

Hello Naureen,

Thank you for your interest in our project.

Indeed, the water crisis in Gaza has contributed to the pre-existing tensions and conflicts. However, our team has experience working with the intricacies and sensitivities of the region and we are working to minimize any risks associated with the implementation of this project.

One of the largest possible risks in Gaza which cannot be dismissed is that of power availability. For instance, the latest public plant financed by the donor community does not function due to a lack of power. To mitigate this risk, we co-locate our plant with the only large scale power production facility in Gaza, allowing us to buy power straight from the producer and not through the network distributors. We are also choosing technology that consumes up to 50% less power than the standard SWRO.

Other major risks include:

1) Permitting of import and operations; We worked closely with the Israeli side from inception to understand what is easy to do on their end. This led us to landing on tech with pre-assembled SWRO facility as opposed to concrete construction on site. However, the conflict in Gaza creates uncertainty and thus a change in policy could always happen. To mitigate this risk, the key is time. If the project can be rapidly implemented, we mitigate the risk of people changing their mind.

2) Alienation of current actors in private water supply: By introducing a new supplier with its own distribution processes, we risk alienating the existing water truck sector. However, in order to mitigate this risk, we plan to keep the barriers to entry into our distribution channels as low as possible while maintaining safety and health regulations.

Indeed, there is an inherent level of risk when the number of stakeholders in any project increases. However, in our case, we have worked to design this project to minimize the number of stakeholders. In fact, for a Gaza based project we are working with very few stakeholders. Typical projects involve more development agencies and more government entities (distributors, ministries...etc.).

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks,
Yusef Srouji

Photo of Naureen C
Team

Thanks Yusuf for the detailed response to my question. I have a much better understanding now of the risk issues and it appears your team is experienced and well placed to deal with these. I also appreciate the level of research and consultation that your team has done to determine the approach to take, which will help contribute to the success of your project.

I think it's excellent that this project will not only deliver the benefit of clean drinking water but also has the environmental benefits of reduced power usage through the technology you are choosing to use.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Yusef!

Thank you for your answers to the beneficiary feedback questions.

I look forward to seeing your user journey for residents in Gaza that would be using this water
and how that would compare to how they currently obtain water supplies and also the beneficiary feedback for your project, especially from local families.

What sort of business development/partnerships are you hoping to secure? Can you describe the ideal business development/partnerships for your project?

Where are you sourcing the polycarbonate bottles?

How much in funding are you seeking from GHR as part of this challenge?

If you have any questions on the beneficiary feedback phase, please contact me via bridgebuilder@ideo.com.

Photo of Yusef
Team

Hello Kate,

Thank you for your interest in our project.

With regards to the user experiences, we are working on uploading those by the end of day today. As for the beneficiary feedback, those will also be up as soon as possible.

We believe the project can be investable for social impact investors. Our first priority is to secure two or three investors - securing an international investor would also help us secure local investments from the private sector. Should the investor path prove to be too complex, our alternative would be to work in partnership with grant organisations or innovative development partners. We believe our participation to the IDEO challenge can help with both.
In terms of project partnership, we believe that the project would benefit from finding partners in the following areas: Marketing in conflict areas (marketing skills are not widely available locally); set-up of system to optimize truck delivery (including a call-centre). We are still looking for the right contractors or partners for these services.

Unfortunately, the packaging materials (poly-carbonate bottles and material for sachet production) are not available locally. As for the poly-carbonate bottles with handles, we have identified 2 suppliers that fit: 1) import requirements to Israel, 2) optimization of import taxes, 3) high quality allowing for maximum number of re-use. One supplies is in Poland, while the other is in Turkey. For the raw material for sachet production, numerous producers in China can supply at the required quality and price point.

With regards to the funding, our team is seeking the maximum funding available of $500K US. This would be enough to: 1) finalize all the studies (including legal, etc), 2) Start production and packaging by retro-fitting small existing facilities in Gaza to establish local interest and demand, at which point social investors will be more willing to commit to the larger and more environmentally friendly SWRO facility.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks,
Yusef Srouji

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Yusef!

Thank you for posting. I can clearly see how your project bridges peace, prosperity, and planet, especially the fact that the organisation has staff from Palestine and Israel. How many jobs would you potentially be providing at the bottling plant? What sort of salary would the people at the plant receive?

Would you consider adding a short summary at the top of the 'full description' box in your post to illustrate how the project meets the evaluation criteria?

You can use this as a guide:

'This idea is a_________________ [campaign/app/service/program/online platform/toolkit/social enterprise/etc.].

It tackles the problem of _____________[short problem statement].

It addresses the problem by :__________[what your idea looks like in practice]. It intersects XYZ topics (peace, prosperity, or planet).’

Are you able to share the profiles of the people who would be working on the project? https://shurook.org/our-team/

Does this desalination plant have a low carbon footprint compared to similar plants?

Photo of Yusef
Team

Hello Kate,

Thank you for your prompt reply and constructive comments.

I have attempted to answer your questions in the post. Regarding the jobs created by the desalination plant, and its carbon footprint, you can find the answer in the "Explain your Idea" section. I have also added the summary at the top of the 'full description' box and clarified the people who will be working on the project in the 'tell us more about you' section.

Let me know if you need any further clarification.

Photo of Suha
Team

Good project ..Much needed