Gaza Strip: in need of water
Gaza could be an idyllic place on the Mediterranean, but it is one of the largest open pit prisons in the world. Because of the Israeli blockade, for over eight years 1.8 million people are severely restricted in their ability to exit Gaza and export and import goods. Skin and digestive diseases, especially among children, overflowing sewage lagoons, polluted water flooding the streets, and women carrying water from the few safe water tankers and water purchasing points are part of everyday life in the Strip.
Access to water and sanitation is one of the most dramatic consequences of this situation: the Gaza Aquifer, the sole source of water, is being depleted (annually extraction is approximately 180 million cubic meters while recharge to the aquifer is only approximately 60 million cubic meters). In addition to this problem, the continuous cuts in electricity supply and blockade imposed restriction on import of construction materials needed for a sustainable sanitation network have caused increased salination and sewage pollution of the water.
Action Against Hunger and the City of Barcelona have worked together since 2012 to:
- Find technical solutions to recharge the aquifer with rainwater.
- Build the capacity of local authorities for improved storm water management.
- Distribute household water storage units (During Operation Protective Edge, in 2014, over 100,000 water tanks were destroyed).
Maha Ashoun is an engineer and part of Action Against Hunger´s team in Gaza. She summarizes the technical aspects of the project: "We launched three pilot projects: the first is to build gravel bore-holes in areas of standing water to recharge the collected water to the aquifer, the second collects storm water on school roofs and similarly filters the water to the aquifer, and the third is based on collecting water from the roofs of plastic greenhouses into underground storage ponds to be reused for agricultural purposes, with overflow water filtering to the aquifer."
"Thanks to the support of the Barcelona City Council for the local municipal authority responsible for managing water (the Coastal Municipality Water Utility), it has been possible to map the areas of water accumulation in the rainy seasons; and design a Director of Storm Water Management Plan, allowing adequate planning and management in the future. This is a very positive example of institutional cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean, that we expect will continue and expand, in order to improve the lives of the population," explains Action Against Hunger representative in Catalonia, Natalia Anguera.