Improved Access to Water for Gaza Families in Beit Hanoun
Since the start of this water, health, and sanitation program in May 2017 with the support of Islamic Relief-USA, Anera has renovated and fixed three water wells, and built seven reliable water connections, 10 wastewater networks, and two stormwater networks.
New Water Well Brings Higher Quality and Improved Access to Water
“What could be better than starting a day with a fresh cup of coffee with neighbors?” asks Zahira, a resident of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, while boiling water in her coffee pot. The aroma of the brewing coffee led her to reflect on how potable water was unaffordable to her until very recently.
“Gaza suffers scarcity of water,” she notes. As a mother, Zahira adds, “It’s crucial for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene and a healthy environment for children. The water coming from the tap was cloudy. It felt too dirty to use, even for laundry and dishes.”
With funding from Islamic Relief USA, Anera rehabilitated the nearby water well that the community relies upon. Zahira and her neighbors are delighted, “Our water is so much safer to use now.”
Zahira also expressed concern about the risks of infection from water contamination. She and others in her community recently took part in an Anera-hosted public health session. She says, “We’ve received detailed information on parasitic infections. When a child has abnormal stomach ache and bloating, it can mean that they maybe have parasites, and the child should be tested as soon as possible.”
Hygiene Kits for Households in Gaza
Households in the community also received hygiene kits that include detergents and cleaning items. “Our community is neglected,” Zahira observes. “Every household was in need of those sanitary items. We were desperately in need of hygiene supplies.”
Ahlam, a mother of 5 who has lived in Beit Hanoun for seven years, also talked about the complexities of getting a steady supply of water in Gaza.
“Water is a huge problem,” Ahlam says. “Although our house is on the first floor, water pressure was still weak. We had to wait until the electricity came on to get water for cooking and other cleaning activities. Neighbors used to beg for water from suppliers. We had to wait for hours to get our turn,” she said.
To conserve water in her household, she had been forced to choose among her daily chores. “When I had to bathe my five children, I would postpone laundry until the following day,” she recalls. And then wait to wash the dishes until the day after that.
Now, her family’s situation is much better and her husband no longer needs to stay up late to fill tanks with water. “We suffered shortages of water for years in our neighborhood, we were looking forward to that day when we would be blessed with water.”
She too appreciated the health awareness sessions, commenting, “Access to knowledge is a right.” Ahlam particularly found the talk on parasitic infections useful. Our kids play with sand and here in Gaza this can put their health at risk.”
Ahlam has been sharing her knowledge with other women in the community.
Water for Household Needs in Beit Hanoun
In the backyard of their home in Beit Hanoun, Amir and his family are busy tending to dozens of pigeons and chickens, which the family raises to sell as meat. The family established this business out of necessity to generate a modest income.
Trained by his aunt, Mona, in caring for the animals, Amir and his family work hard to feed and water their pigeons. When his aunt is away at university, “she puts me in charge of watering the pigeons,” Amir says proudly.
However, reliably obtaining sufficient water for the animals and the household had been an ongoing obstacle. The family called water suppliers many times, but service was often slow. Since Anera renovated the Soqia Jenine water system in Beit Hanoun, the family has had a much more reliable supply of water.
The Soqia Jenine Water Well
The rehabilitation of water wells is essential to preserving the limited water resources in Gaza. The ultimate goal is to provide an adequate supply of water for daily domestic needs across Gaza, and to improve the overall quality.
Over 90 percent of tap water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Water problems are particularly acute in communities like Beit Hanoun, where population growth is unplanned.
Anera replaced the old and inadequate water pump. The rehabilitated well is supplying double the quantity of water to Beit Hanoun, pumping 70-80 m3 per day, while old well produced only 30-40 m3. The well serves a population of 7,000 residents, with many more people benefiting indirectly. The renovation project created 40 working days for 280 workers.
Since the inception of this Water, Health, and Sanitation (WASH) program in May 2017 with the support of Islamic Relief USA, Anera has renovated and fixed three water wells, and built seven reliable water connections, 10 wastewater networks, and two stormwater networks. In addition, the Anera program is providing 165 public health sessions in affected communities and distributing 4,190 hygiene kits throughout Gaza. The project has reached to a total 40,561 beneficiaries.