This article was posted on the World Vision website on Feruary 29, 2008.
JERUSALEM-WESTBANK-GAZA – Water is becoming contaminated in Gaza, as chlorine to treat drinking water is becoming scarce, World Vision’s North Gaza Area Development Programme (ADP) manager reported this week. Mohammed El Halaby said on Wednesday that the Water Authority in the Gaza Strip has warned the population about using untreated water.


Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, preventing the free movement of goods and people from and to the area. This has resulted in heightened concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation there. Israel has instituted this blockade as rockets continue to be fired on towns bordering the Gaza Strip causing damage, injuries and one fatality recently.

Nine-year-old Hadeel is one of the sponsored children whose family is affected by this latest crisis in Gaza. The water is severely rationed and only gets to her home once a week for two hours at a time. This is due to the continuing fuel shortage, which renders the pumping stations inoperable and therefore unable to supply households with sufficient water.

Hadeel’s father, Abdel Salam, has taken his children to the local clinic several times in the past few weeks in order to be treated for diarrhea, nausea and worms, as a result of drinking unclean water and told World Vision’s North Gaza ADP staff that he is worried about the health of his children.

“We are looking at a deepening health crisis in the Gaza Strip, if a clean supply of water remains unavailable,” said Charles Clayton, National Director for World Vision – Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza.

Hadeel’s family owns a piece of land that her father, Abdel Salam, was cultivating for the family’s use. The produce was intended to keep the household at a level of self-sufficiency, given the current poverty levels in Gaza. Water shortage is the main cause of the family’s inability to work the land nowadays. “There is a severe scarcity of water. If it is available, it is usually high in minerals and therefore the soil becomes unfit for cultivation,” El Halaby said.

Additionally, the area where Hadeel lives, Beit Lahia is threatened by a sewage lagoon operating at above its regular capacity, as pumps are not functioning due to the fuel shortage. Last year, five people were killed when it burst. Some flooding has already occurred in the area, threatening public health and safety.

Earlier in February, international aid organizations working in the occupied Palestinian territory issued a list of items that are not being allowed into Gaza as a result of the continuing blockade. Some on the list, such as chlorination units and water quality testing kits, as well as construction material needed to maintain water networks, are banned from the list of humanitarian items allowed in.