The Israeli Government, in partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has donated water purification equipment to the island of Grand Bahama, which will provide residents with potable drinking water, following the passing of Hurricane Dorian.
During an official handing over ceremony at the C. A. Smith Complex on Sunday, October 6, 2019, Senate President and Coordinator of NEMA in Grand Bahama, Senator Kay Forbes-Smith thanked the State of Israel and the Israeli National Water Authority for their generous gift to the people of Grand Bahama.
“On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Government and the people of The Bahamas, we are grateful for the generosity of the Government of the State of Israel and of MASHAV, Israel’s Aid Agency (Government body) of international development and cooperation,” said Senator Smith.
“We are also thankful for the efforts of IsraAID for their tireless work in Grand Bahama to set up this unique water storage and distribution system. Today, we are opening the first system to go on line at the Pineridge Urban Renewal Center, which will serve the Pineridge neighbourhood and the surrounding areas.”
Senator Smith noted that by next week, IsraAID, Israel’s implementing partner for the project will work with NEMA to launch two other water stations on Grand Bahama, specifically at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Pinder’s Point and at the Central Zion Baptist Church in Eight Mile Rock.
Experts from the Israeli Water Authority are also providing detailed training for NEMA staff, to ensure that the three systems will provide clean drinking water to thousands of Grand Bahama residents now and if needed, for any future water outage or emergencies.
“Let me just say that this is such a wonderful effort from the Israeli Government, because not only are they installing the water systems for now, they plan to leave the equipment here for us,” added Senator Smith.
“That is an important aspect of all of this. What it means is that we have to take care of it. We have to store it properly and continue to train people on how to use it. We should not vandalize it and we should really accept it as a gift and a blessing.
“We are also very appreciative of the support that will be provided by the experts from Israeli’s National Water Authority, who have arrived on Grand Bahama to assist with the immediate needs. Soon, other experts from Israel will arrive on the island to assist with the long-term processes.”
Political Counsellor at the Embassy of Israel, Nadav Goren says the Government of the State of Israel, through its Agency for International Development Cooperation, MASHAV, aims to carry its humanitarian responsibilities wherever and whenever disaster strikes.
“When Hurricane Dorian hit The Bahamas in unprecedented strength, we felt obliged to take action for the well-being of its citizens,” Mr. Goren told those gathered for the handing over ceremony.
“As you all know, the hurricane led to the contamination of existing water reservoirs with salt water, which has caused severe water shortages throughout the country. The assistance program which we are inaugurating today is aimed at bridging that gap and providing potable water to Grand Bahama for those in need, up until the relevant authorities can restore the necessary water services.”
The Israeli Political Counsellor explained that their humanitarian assistance model is based upon the National Emergency plan of the Israeli Water Authority and draws upon Israel’s accumulated experience in dealing with emergency situations.
“Therefore, we are setting up an emergency water distribution operation that will reach a maximum amount of people in minimal time,” Mr. Goren added.
“In order to achieve this goal, we have shipped special Israeli designed equipment, which includes: water containment tanks, mobile distribution tanks and approximately 20,000 reusable personal water containers.
“This project is based on a true partnership. Hand in hand with NEMA, we will promote skill building, which in turn will ensure sustainability. This emergency relief operation would not be effective without the close cooperation of the Government of The Bahamas, in particular, the National Emergency Management Agency, under the leadership of Senator Kay Forbes-Smith.
“This is just another manifestation of the close friendship between our two nations. I would like to express the commitment of the State of Israel to the people of the Bahamas – we empathize with your suffering and commend your resilience. We will strive to improve your current water shortages through immediate relief efforts and hope this will also be used for contingency planning if, God forbid, disaster should ever strike again.”
Senator Smith thanked IsraAID for its tireless work in installing the systems and ensuring that local volunteers were trained to operate the water system. She said it was invaluable to have the additional expertise on the ground to help expedite the recovery of the island’s water system.
“Let me personally thank you Mr. Goren for coming to our island and please extend my gratitude to the State of Israel on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Government of The Bahamas and certainly the people of The Bahamas, for the kindness and generosity shown to the people of Grand Bahama and to all our residents and citizens of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas,” concluded Senator Smith.