Press Release

January 20, 2010 |Gaza Community Working Group Meets

January 20, 2010 | Doha, Qatar – Anera (American Near East Refugee Aid) is pleased to announce it was invited to participate in the newly formed Gaza Community Development Working Group which met for the first time in Doha, Qatar, January 17-19. The Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), in coordination with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), established the working group to explore community-led, sustainable construction strategies for rebuilding homes in Gaza.

In over a year since “Operation Cast Lead” ended, tens of thousands of Gazans remain homeless and thousands of others live in badly damaged dwellings. On-going border closures continue to prohibit entry of building materials. The group will develop home and neighborhood design strategies and construction methods that respond to the varying constraints in availability of building materials.

The group expects to expand upon UNRWA’s initiative to develop sustainable housing using locally available materials such as Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs), and suggested ways to use these materials to construct two and three story buildings.

From the meeting, three main categories of need emerged:

1. Total reconstruction of 15,000 housing units

2. Major repairs to 3,000 units

3. Substantial repairs (doors, wall cracks, holes in walls, broken windows) to 54,000 units

Anera’s contribution to rebuilding is in the area of rehabilitation. “Our experience with renovating preschools throughout Gaza in combination with the engineering expertise of our Gaza staff puts us in a good position for repairing homes,” said Anera’s Middle East Representative Robert Crothers, who participated in the meeting.

In the months to come, the working group will study the current housing situation in Gaza to explore integrated neighborhood designs, possible when the siege is lifted and steel, concrete and other materials are available.