Life hasn’t been the same for the Abu Dhaher family since April 2021, when a new wastewater treatment plant opened about 100 meters from their family home, located east of central Gaza’s al-Bureij camp. “Our neighborhood is infested with flies and mosquitoes,” Abu Dhaher, an accountant, said. “Furthermore, the foul odor does not leave the house.”The al-Bureij wastewater treatment plant was built to treat all of central Gaza’s wastewater – a significant task, given Gaza’s sewage crisis. Currently, the plant absorbs around 60,000 cubic meters of sewage water daily, according to engineer Zuhdi al-Ghariz, the project director of the Ministry of Local Government.
As one of the world’s most densely populated areas, the Gaza Strip and its population of 2.1 million are in dire need of more sewage treatment facilities like al-Bureij. Currently, around 120,000 cubic meters of untreated wastewater from Gaza go into the Mediterranean every day. Though, with new treatment plants, this amount appears to be on the decline. The existing sewage networks service only 60 percent of homes in the Gaza Strip, and the remaining 40 percent depend on septic tanks that often leak and seep into the aquifer.Yet, over the past several years, as more facilities are built to address Gaza’s wastewater crisis, the residents in their vicinity are enduring a different kind of nightmare.