In the Gaza Strip, the unsustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation exacerbated by the longstanding blockade has been compounded by the 2014 conflict. Problems arising from the prohibition on entry of ‘dual-use’ materials, inadequate power supplies and lack of government regulation have seriously affected the WASH situation in Gaza. The majority of Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank are not connected to the water network or are irregularly supplied by it, forcing people to rely on expensive tankered water. Inadequate water for drinking, domestic consumption and for livestock, is affecting the overall resilience of these communities. The destruction of essential WASH infrastructure lacking building permits generates a coercive environment, and can lead to displacement, poverty and increased risk of disease and illness.
On 25 and 28 October, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) turned on the second and third turbines (of four available) and increased its electricity output from 25 to 80 megawatts (MW). Together with 120-130 MW purchased from Israel and supplied through feeder lines, a total of 200-210 MW of electricity was provided to the Gaza Strip, the highest level in almost two years. This facilitated a supply of 16-18 hours of electricity in a 24-hour period versus less than five hours previously.
A recent report prepared by the RAND Corporation warns that if the chronic state of emergency in Gaza’s water and sewage sector continues, an endemic disease outbreak or other public health crisis is imminent, with the risk of it spreading to Israel and Egypt. The projection is based on data collected by Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) partners and authorities over previous years, analysis of the expected impact of recent developments, and lessons learnt from disease outbreaks in Haiti, Yemen and Iraq. The report emphasised that cooperation between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt is vital if an epidemic is to be pre-empted.
Funding for humanitarian activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is at an all-time low. At the end of September, only $159 million had been secured of a requested $539.7 million for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the multi-agency strategy and funding appeal for the humanitarian community in the oPt. Funding for the oPt HRP is at only 30 per cent, significantly lower than the current global average of 42 per cent.
Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, announced the release of US$1 million from the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt HF) to prevent the collapse of life-saving services in the Gaza Strip. The allocation will go to the UN-Assisted Emergency Fuel Programme, which provides emergency fuel, mainly for back-up electricity generators, at around 250 critical health, water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip.
This week, final stocks of emergency fuel will be delivered to critical facilities in the Gaza Strip, through the United Nations-Assisted Emergency Fuel Program. The Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, has written to the donor community requesting immediate support for the program, which provides life-saving emergency fuel to operate standby emergency power generators at critical health centers, and water and sanitation facilities in the Gaza Strip. Funds donated thus far in 2018 have been depleted.
Funding for humanitarian activities is at an all-time low this year for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). At the end of July, the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requirements were only 24 per cent funded; this is a significantly lower level of funding compared with the same period over the past eight years. Humanitarian financing to the oPt has typically fluctuated in response to significant shifts in the context, with notable peaks in financial contributions in response to active hostilities in Gaza. Following the last escalation of hostilities in 2014, humanitarian financing to the oPt has been gradually, but definitively, decreasing year on year.