Bringing Clean Water to Schools in Gaza

HCI, UNRWA, and UNRWA USA Partner to Bring Clean Water to Schools in Gaza

HCI is committed to improving the lives of children and building healthy communities globally. Our Water for Life program plays an essential role in helping to achieve this commitment. In Partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and UNRWA USA, we have completed the installation of six solar-based water desalination units. These units will provide clean water to more than 12,000 boys and girls studying in 6 different UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. Gaza Strip is home to over 1.9 million people; 42.6% of them are within the age of 0-14 years.

Between 10 and 21 May, Gaza Strip has experienced the most intense airstrikes and violence since the 2014 conflict, resulting in devastating impacts on the civilian population. Palestine refugees struggle with high poverty levels, food insecurity, and unemployment as the illegal blockade entered its 15th year in 2021. Amidst the numerous social and economic challenges that people face daily, the UNRWA schools provide a ray of hope for a better future. In the Gaza Strip, UNRWA operates 278 schools that provide primary education for over 286,000 students in grades 1-9. In a context that offers limited access to essential human resources, drinking water to students at schools is supplied through local vendors contracted annually. 

The situation of water and sanitation for the Palestinians of Gaza is critical. With no perennial streams and low rainfall, Gaza relies almost entirely on the underlying coastal aquifer. In 2018, the electricity cuts and the blockade decreased the desalination capacity, leading to negative consequences on access to clean water for the population. Furthermore, repairs to water infrastructure in Gaza are delayed, compounded by the fact that several critical water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) items such as pumps, drilling equipment, and disinfectant chemicals are on the Israeli dual-use list. This means that their entry into Gaza is only permitted selectively. 

HCI took on the challenge of making sure that clean drinking water was available to students daily and right at their fingertips. Each solar-based desalination unit and school has individual design considerations based on the water quality provided through the municipal water supply. Despite delays that arose due to COVID, we are excited to announce that the solar-based desalination units’ installation is now complete.

We asked Mariam Dahmn, school principal of Zaitoun elementary school, why this project was so important and close to her heart. She remarked:

“Usually, we fill tanks with drinkable water by a private vendor, which is not enough to satisfy children’s need for water. When we ran out of the water, that caused chaos in the school. To have a sustainable source of drinking water in the school means that I will not worry about children; I will not ask every day many times to check water tanks. We will not wait for the water supplier to come before children notice that there is no water. There are more than one thousand children at one place who need to drink to maintain healthy practices, which we do care to promote. We can’t promote healthy practices while there is no drinkable water in the school.”

Our Water for Life program aims to provide communities with affordable, clean, and safe water while promoting best practices for hygiene and sanitation. Our partnership with UNRWA and UNRWA USA has resulted in more sustainable and safe drinking water resources in the Gaza Strip. It supports Palestinian refugee students in achieving their full potential individually and as members of the local and global community.

HCI has been proudly serving the Muslim community for 40 years, and through your generosity and support, our programs are continuously improving the lives of many vulnerable people. Each donation made enables us to further the mission of taking impoverished people from crisis to sustainability.

July 26, 2021

Human Concern International

Ottawa, Canada

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