Palestine: Clean Water for Gaza

The Problem

With clean water scarce, families must collect and store water when they can afford to buy it - c.ZakherMore than four decades of Israeli military occupation have left Gaza one of the poorest parts of the Middle East. Since 2007, Israel has restricted the movement of people and goods into Gaza, making it impossible to develop or maintain needed infrastructure for water. With no replacement parts available, broken pipes allow raw sewage to leak into groundwater. Salt and toxic nitrate from the Mediterranean also contaminate the water supply—a legacy of Israel’s policy of digging deep wells for its settlements in Gaza. Finally, climate change has decreased rainfall in the area, making clean water even scarcer.

In Gaza City, many houses have running water only once a week. In some of the poorest communities, families do not have taps in or near their homes. When families can afford it, they purchase water from desalination stations and store it in plastic containers. But this water is expensive: four times as much as water from the municipality. Women, who are responsible for water use within families, are forced to ration water for drinking and cooking, leaving little to nothing for household chores and bathing.

Every day, families in Gaza struggle to prevent waterborne illnesses. But without immediate intervention, they are at great risk for cholera, typhoid and other diseases.

 

The Solution

MADRE is working with our sister organization, the Zakher Association for the Development of Palestinian Women’s Capacity, to install water filters in Gaza City. The filters will serve communities with some of the highest rates of water contamination in Gaza.

Through Clean Water for Gaza, we are installing large water filters in community centers in the neighborhoods of Shejaeya, Sha’af, Al Zitoun, Attufah and Al Sabra, and additional smaller water filters in ten kindergartens. Each community water filter will serve 350 families, and each kindergarten water filter will serve 150 children.

MADRE is working to enable the women of Zakher to take part in the global movement for water rights by connecting our Palestinian partners with water rights activists and women’s human rights defenders around the world. Because Gazans are physically isolated due to severe travel restrictions, we will use social media and teleconferencing to facilitate connections between women in Gaza and social movements abroad.

 

The Results

  • Women, men and children in Gaza City have access to reliable, affordable and clean drinking water needed to sustain life.
  • Kindergarten-age children have clean water in their classrooms and schools, improving their health and development.
  • Illness and death from waterborne diseases is greatly reduced.
  • Women’s time-consuming and arduous work buying, hauling, storing and rationing water is reduced, giving them greater opportunity to engage in other activities, such as the computer literacy classes and health workshops offered by our sister organization.
  • The global movement for recognition of clean water as a human right is strengthened by exchanges between our sister organization in Gaza and water activists in other regions of the world.