Gaza: Urgent Need for Water and Food

The destruction of energy infrastructure has reduced the water supply during the hottest months of the year. The closing of Kerni hinders the delivery of humanitarian assistance and leaves markets without rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil.

"Access to drinking water is difficult: we only have 43% of electricity supply and numerous water pumps are no longer working," explains Hossam Almadhoun, Action Against Hunger's Head of Base in Gaza. More than 140 pumps depend on electricity supply. The closure of the Gaza strip means that alternative fuel cannot be provided - in any case, municipalities would not be able to pay for it. "People are looking for alternative means of water storage and are limiting their use of water. In towns, there is an increasing lack of hygiene and in rural areas, water points are ever more far away," says Hossam. The reduction in electricity supply also affects refrigerators and therefore the conservation of fresh food during the hottest period of the year.

Basic goods are beginning to be scarce on local markets. "Already people have no oil to cook with and are cutting wood," comments Hossam. Since the middle of June, fishing is prohibited and 160.000 people working for the administration have not received their salaries. The closure of the Eretz check point prevents 1,000 employees getting to their workplaces in Israel. "Already affected by economic collapse, families living close to the Israeli border in northern and eastern Gaza are suffering most," says Hossam.

Despite the closure of the borders, humanitarian organizations have provided some medicines to hospitals. However, markets need to be replenished and electricity supply to water pumps guaranteed in order to prevent the situation from becoming insupportable for the most vulnerable people. Food reserves such as flour, rice, sugar, oil and vegetables will run out within the coming days.

"Hopes among the population after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza 10 months ago have disintegrated. People are nervous and there is panic," our staff in Gaza tells us.

Action Against Hunger supports the petition signed by the International Association of Development Agencies, a group of 70 humanitarian agencies working in the Palestinian Territories, calling for action by the international community to mitigate the crisis, for the opening of the border to bring supply to markets and the movement of workers.