Gregor von Medeazza
The Gaza Strip suffers from a severe water crisis; over 95 per cent of the water extracted from the Aquifer is considered unfit for human consumption, and inaction is leading to potentially irreversible damage to the Aquifer by 2020. To address this crisis, UNICEF, with funding from the European Union, initiated the implementation of a seawater desalination programme. It is meant to help vulnerable families access safe drinking water at an affordable price while contributing to the prevention of an environmental catastrophe. This seawater desalination plant is the largest in Gaza and produces 6,000 m3 per day. It will be extended to produce 20,000 m3 per day and ultimately serve a population of 250,000. Seawater desalination is an energy-intensive process and, given the limited availability of electricity within Gaza, UNICEF has focused on identifying innovative means of generating and conserving energy to tackle the energy–water nexus by incorporating renewable energy and energy recovery to maximize the plant’s viability. An innovative strategy to operate the plant with renewable energy sources has also been formulated to ensure self-reliant and economical operation, and awaits donor funding for implementation. This is expected to become a model to be followed for the building of other future plants in the Gaza Strip.
In the Oslo Accord-defined Area C of the West Bank, approximately 11,000 Palestinians are unserved by the water network, forced to rely on water trucking at extremely high prices. In response to this situation, Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC), in partnership with UNICEF, created a programme to subsidize water trucking that alleviates water scarcity while enhancing the sustainability of water service delivery, equitability of tariffs, and predictability of demand. Established in 2014, the programme now covers all the water-vulnerable communities in the West Bank and has reached 35,000 people. The programme links humanitarian and development interventions by using a contiguum approach, where the humanitarian provision of trucked water is accompanied by the construction of water infrastructure and the creation of a multilevel water trucking governance system that defines the roles and responsibilities of all national, regional, and local actors in the water supply chain. By embedding water trucking into the Palestinian Water Authority’s normal activities, the programme is designed to escape a cycle of chronic emergency humanitarian response, in line with the national water sector reform agenda. Eventually, the international donor funding on which the programme depends should be phased out by implementing an equitable, universal water tariff schedule across the entire West Bank, with rates set high enough to subsidize the provision of reliable, safe, and affordable water to the vulnerable residents of Area C.
This paper presents the main results from a knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in government schools in the State of Palestine (SoP). In 2012 a baseline WASH KAP survey was conducted in 411 schools. In 2015–2016 a statistically representative survey was performed; the sample included 381 of the 411 schools originally sampled in 2012. The survey targeted basic and secondary schools in urban and rural areas of all educational directorates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The survey was conducted by UNICEF in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE). The findings of the 2016 survey show positive changes in the availability of potable water in schools, which also enabled hygiene and sanitation activities to improve. For instance, more schools taught hygiene education to students on a daily basis in 2016 than in 2012. However, the survey revealed that ensuring the participation of parents and students in WASH activities and continuity of supply of soap, toilet paper, and sanitary pads remains a challenge. This paper concludes with recommendations to further improve the access to WASH in Palestinian schools.