Global Gardens of Peace has been allocated 32,000 square metres of land by the Municipality of Khan Younis to build our first garden. The site falls within a 400,000 square metre area that the Municipality has planned as a regional park to service the growing population. Khan Younis is the location for a large refugee camp numbering 72,000 registered refugees (2011) of which more than 30% are under the age of 14 and a further 25% aged between 15 and 25. (UNRWA) A major housing development has been planned but has encountered ongoing difficulties due to blockades. The Municipality has plans to construct housing for 110,000 people within the next 5 years that will be located within one kilometre from the allocated GGoP site.
The area is located within four kilometres of the Mediterranean coast. Water supply is a significant issue with 90% considered unfit for human consumption (UNRWA) and is contaminated or has a very high saline content. Access to electricity supply is also a significant issue.
The Municipality measures 54 square kilometres, of which only 0.7square kms (including the proposed regional park area) is available for green space.
For the project in Khan Younis to be viable water supply must be considered. Funding for a solution would fall outside the budget for construction of the Global Gardens of Peace garden but is critical for the project to succeed. The Municipality of Khan Younis has suggested sinking a well however all research on quality of water in the region suggests that this is not a realistic option.
Any type of water treatment in this environment will require energy to drive the process and the reliability of this is problematic in Gaza. In accordance with Global Gardens of Peace sustainability values, the preference is to minimise reliance on grid electricity, not only to reduce the carbon foot print, but to assure a more secure energy supply.
A comprehensive design concept has been completed for the site after extensive consultation with the community both in Australia and overseas. The plan has been developed by leading landscape architect Andrew Laidlaw and his team David Wong and Wendy Clarke and features a treehouse, giant slide and flying fox located around a village style setting and an oasis. Fruit trees and vegetable plots plus an education and cooking facilities are also included. Paths wind through and around the site.
The preliminary costs for the project are A$8.5 million that includes some provision for a desalination plant required for the garden’s ongoing maintenance. Investigations are underway to facilitate the development of a much larger desalination plant that could service the broader regional park and potentially the housing development. Funding for this initiative would be significant.
Consideration of the maintenance of the garden has been given throughout the design development stage as it is inherently crucial to the success of this project. Of prime concern is the ongoing financial cost of maintenance. The garden needs to be integrated into surrounding facilities and services that will not only provide a source of funds that could be applied to maintenance costs but that will also broaden the human and social value of the garden to the community. These include education facilities, health facilities, social and recreational facilities, retail and nursery and skills development facilities. Global Gardens of Peace will work with the Municipality of Khan Younis and other agencies to affect a best practice outcome.