Tuesday 16th May 2023
Action Against Hunger welcomes the announcement of the ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.
Israel’s military launched operation ‘Shield and Arrow’ in Gaza on 9th May 2023. The subsequent five days of escalation in Gaza and Israel resulted in the deaths of 33 Palestinians, including 6 children, with 190 injured, including 64 children and 38 Women (Source: Palestinian Ministry of Health). One Israeli woman was killed in Israel, and 37 treated for injuries and shock. (Source: OCHA).
Action Against Hunger had to suspend humanitarian operations during the five days of escalation. This delayed our progress to provide vital water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and employment opportunities for over 65,000 people in Gaza. This assistance is critical where 45 per cent of the population in Gaza are unemployed (39 per cent unemployment for males, 65 per cent for females), and where 0.65 million people lack access to sufficient quality water (Source: PCBS and OCHA 2023 HNO). Furthermore, the Palestinian Ministry of Economy reported that due to restrictions on access to jobs and livelihoods, the total losses in economic activity in Gaza reached 10 million USD per day of escalation.
“Each escalation brings with it huge setbacks for the people of Gaza. Through our work we see the huge potential for women’s economic growth, thriving graduates, and a WASH sector that meets international standards. All this is put on hold, even reversed, because of the violence and blockade”, says Svetlana Kapustian, Country Director for Action Against Hunger in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The WASH sector in Gaza is already incredibly fragile due to almost 16 years of blockade. With each escalation the sector is brought further to the brink of collapse. Before the ceasefire was announced, the Gaza Power Plant was running dangerously low on fuel, forcing one of the three operating turbines to shut down on the second day (of five) of escalation, affecting the operation of more than 600 water and sanitation services in the Strip (Source: WASH Cluster). The entry of fuel and materials for the WASH sector must now be prioritised to ensure the continuation of WASH services. Action Against Hunger also calls on donors to increase funding for the WASH sector which is exceptionally low. Five months into 2023, only 17% of the funding requirements for meeting WASH needs in the occupied Palestinian territory have been met. (Source: WASH Cluster).
“For an appropriate sustainability of interventions that can enable the Nexus focus, the “Building Back Better” approach in Gaza requires increased funding, including investment in the operations and maintenance of WASH infrastructure and the capacity building of water service providers. To date, limited preparedness capacity is affecting the resilience of the WASH sector, particularly when faced with an escalation of violence,” says Chiara Saccardi, Head of Operations for the Region at Madrid HQ.
Action Against Hunger cautions that in the absence of a sustainable and peaceful solution for Palestinians and Israelis, the cyclical and systemic violence will continue, and humanitarian needs will persist.
Action Against Hunger has been working in the West Bank since 2002 and in the Gaza Strip since 2005. Since then, it has implemented Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Food Security programmes with different approaches: emergency, protection, resilience and development. Action Against Hunger programmes reached over 806,000 people in 2022.