Flooding in Gaza

We didn’t expect the storms that hit Gaza. It has been raining off and on for two weeks. At times it has been really intense. If Gaza receives more than 20 millimeters of rain, flooding happens. Just in three hours last week the floods started.

Flooding affects all aspects of water delivery and management in Gaza. Only about 10% of Gaza is served by storm water networks. With many areas below sea level, the infrastructure for managing heavy rainfall is quite expensive. Rainwater quickly overloads our systems and it has long been the practice to divert it into the sea. Often wastewater networks flood, spilling out onto the streets and into homes along with the rainwater. This causes the spread of disease.

Torrential rains hit Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza strip on January 16, 2022. Photo by Mohamed Zaanoun.

Right now, the major problems are in North Gaza and Gaza City. These two governorates still do not have storm water networks and the rainwater collection basins need urgent rehabilitation to improve their ability to divert rain into the aquifer.

In Jabalia camp, one of the largest concentrations of refugees in the north, they got thousands of cubic meters of rain. There was a lot of flooding and many families had to evacuate their homes. In Beit Hanoun, the main hospital was flooded. The entrance was closed and people were stuck inside. They had to evacuate in another way so they could get patients to other hospitals.

I’m proud to be able to report that the three storm water networks Anera recently installed – with generous funding from IRUSA – all have worked perfectly during these rain events. We rehabilitated the Asqula basin in Gaza City. It is effectively draining rainwater into the aquifer (see the film below). The 130,000 people who live around the basin are reporting no flooding! In Khan Younis, we installed a storm water network on the main road through the area. They too have not experienced flooding. In Rafah, we increased the number of rainwater gullies on the main road. The water has drained effectively into the water basin there. The people who live in these communities are safe.

The Asqula basin just after heavy rains hit Gaza.

We hope and plan to build more stormwater and sanitation networks across Gaza in the coming years. And we’d like to work on improving more rainwater collection basins so that they better absorb water instead of letting it run into the sea – losing a precious resource.

In the meantime, families in the north urgently need household interventions to reduce flooding. Most people live in homes with houses that have roofs made of asbestos and galvanized steel. The rain has leaked, destroying their furniture and other belongings. They are basically without homes now. And it’s cold here in Gaza. They really need help.

The Anera community can come through for these families by providing them with warm clothes, blankets and food vouchers. We can also rehabilitate their houses by replacing damaged ceilings, fixing drainage and plumbing inside houses, and even installing windows (some homes don’t have any!).

Today and tomorrow, once again it’s raining, the flood waters are rising and families are suffering. We in Gaza thank you, as always, for your steadfast support.

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