Gaza - water, the hidden crisis

August 5, 2014 7:28 PM
By Sal Brinton

United Nations Relief and Works Agency has reported that before the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza, 90% of the water was contaminated and unfit for human consumption. I also retweeted their message to say that most people are now only getting access to 3 litres of water a day.

Water in Palestine has been a long term and hidden story from many in the wider world, and a major part of the problem for Palestinians in their fight for day to day living. Yet the right to water is as important as the land issues. When I was in the West Bank two years ago with the Watford Friends of Salfeet we talked to residents of the town of Fa'qua, who sit on over 50 wells and an aquifer. Under the terms of the Israeli Occupation, they are not entitled to access any of that water themselves. Instead they were having to pay enormous amounts of money for a daily tanker of water to come and deliver water to them. As a result, children had a much higher level of disease of water borne illnesses, and water was costing the residents a large percentage of their income.

I noted at the time in my diary that in Israel the daily consumption of water was about 300 litres per day, and the Palestinian equivalent was 70 litres per day. NGOs are extremely concerned about that level of water - the recommended minimum is between 50-100 litres a day. That is why the figure of 3 litres a day in Gaza is so shocking. As a reference, here in the UK we use about 150 litres per day.

3 litres a day signifies not enough water to wash, to prepare food, and a real risk of disease. 3 litres a day just about covers one person's personal drinking water in a hot country.

Whilst I am relieved that the current ceasefire is holding, we in the west also need to focus on the other issues that are making life not just intolerable for the people of Gaza, it is making it impossible.