Building Beyond Blockade
Two boys in their rooftop garden in Deir Al Balah, Gaza. Their family is growing strawberries – very successfully – in barrels that use little soil or water. Jamie Demarest, photographer.
In June 2007 Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of Gaza started in the wake of Hamas’ assumption of power. It is 15 years later and the siege is tighter than ever. A wall and the sea imprison Gaza’s two million residents.
The blockade has created problems wherever you look in Gaza. The economy is closed off — import and export of goods are severely restricted. Unemployment rates in Gaza hover around 50 percent.
Hospitals suffer from a lack of specialized medical professionals as well as healthcare supplies and medicines. Essentials like water and electricity have long been in short supply. Young people rarely can leave Gaza to pursue educational dreams.
And most Palestinians from Gaza have never left the territory, even to visit their sisters and brothers in the rest of Palestine.
Anera's community of supporters has been there all along. The work we do is not a response. It’s building beyond the present, beyond the band aids we occasionally need to apply. The Anera family is investing in the future so that Gaza can thrive and get better over time. Anera helps families flourish despite the blockade.
Gaza holds so much promise and Anera’s deep-rooted staff see that in every community they serve. Our Gaza team — all of whom are Palestinians born and raised in Gaza — have lived through the blockade themselves. They have witnessed and experienced so much deterioration in the society around them, whether from the blockade itself or from the series of bombings that have happened since 2008.
As the reality on the ground shifts, the Gaza team evolves, adapts and pivots the projects they deliver to help their communities in the most impactful, relevant ways possible. They’re meeting needs while working to build sustainable change within the numerous constraints of living in Gaza.
Anera works with the resources that the Gaza people have available to them. Sun is in plentiful supply, so we have brought solar power to community centers, health facilities, water wells and schools. We’ve also built solar-powered irrigation systems on family farms.
There is space to grow food, whether in the ground or in planting systems that allow for the smart use of water. Our expert team of Palestinian agronomists is helping familes establish greenhouses in their yards and on their roofs. So they can grow their own food and make an income to support themselves.
Water is a treasured resource in Gaza. Anera’s reservoirs, wells, and water networks have helped hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents to gain access to water. Recently, we have been installing reverse osmosis systems in schools, clinics, hospitals and community centers. These systems take the municipal water, which is undrinkable, and purify it so that those served by the centers can drink clean water from the tap and they can use the clean water for delicate medical machines.
Baked into all of our programs in Gaza is livelihood generation. Our work fosters economic growth by engaging community members in in rehabilitation efforts that support their own communities. Anera's projects directly provide work for people across a variety of sectors. We partner with local institutions, with material and capacity-building support. We locally procure items for our programs. And we work with entrepreneurs to build up their small businesses.
Anera’s work in Gaza is an investment in the future of that beautiful place and the people who live there. And what says that better than the support we provide to Gaza preschools? From building stimulating learning spaces and training teachers to feeding preschoolers healthy meals and promoting positive parenting, our early childhood development is sowing the seeds for a hopeful future in Gaza. That’s what it’s all about!
By The Numbers
Ramadan Food Aid
for the first time, Anera delivered Ramadan food aid in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.
filled with 100+ pounds of nutritious food, were distributed to families in Jordan and Lebanon.
went to families in Palestine and Lebanon so they could choose their own food at local grocery stores.
700 hot meals
made by members of a women's cooperative, were distributed to families throughout the month.
Building Beyond Blockade
Some Images from 15 Years of Anera's Work in Gaza
Photos come from annual reports going back to 2008.