Komorebi Post:“Can you live without water? What’s more important than water for you? ” Manar Shafie asked, a mother of five kids living in Al-Shati camp in Gaza Strip. The disastrous problem Palestinians are facing in all Gaza is beyond water shortage, according to recent studies, 97 percent of drinking water in the Strip is not drinkable by any recognized international standard. Also, the mortality rate of children due to water pollution has reached more than 12%, where they suffered intestinal disorders.
“How shall I explain how we clean our dishes, houses and even taking shower, it’s extremely difficult and unbearable, the color of water is yellow,” Manar added.
Families used to take bathe in the Mediterranean Sea or use its water for cleaning, the only gateway they had, during the three wars and the decade of blockade by Israel and Egypt. But nowadays sea’s water is no longer clean. Sea has become the least desirable destination to go, over the past few years during which an acute electricity crisis has caused sewage to gush into the sea daily. Moreover, repeated Israeli military attacks on Gaza have damaged or destroyed water and sanitation infrastructure, including desalination plants, wells, and waste management facilities. The result of the collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella.
Gazans Rely on Groundwater
Gaza receives only half of the 7.7 billion cubic feet of rain its aquifer requires a year, even less of which recharges the groundwater, allowing salt water to intrude. It also means there’s space for leachate, a liquid produced by dissolving waste in landfill sites, and cesspools used to store sewage to seep through Gaza’s porous sedimentary rock in places like the Gaza Valley. According to World Health Organization the Chloride ratio of GROUNDWATER should not exceed 400 mg/ liter but in Gaza its 1500 Mg/liter.
Thus, one-third of the monthly wages of Gazans spent on buying water, since unemployment has exceeded 57% in Gaza, many people cannot afford to spend this amount of money so only few of the rich can buy bottled mineral water, while most residents in the strip wait municipalities to run water taps normally for one day a week for only a few hours.
A countable number of families are luckier than the rest because of owning old built wells which used for cleaning and Irrigation but not for drinking, still the need of buying mineral water is a necessity.
“I have to buy to my sons many skin creams, when they shower the saltiness of water hurts their skin, I do not know where shall I bring enough money neither for medicine nor for water, also this summer I will do my best not to let the boys swim in the sea , it’s full of sewage, ”Manar added.
Water shortage is in all over Gaza affecting its schools, public buildings and hospitals, in schools there is only one toilet for every 75 pupils and one sink for washing hands. Most of this water is either recycled or from a reservoir. As a result, the very presence of children in these schools puts them at risk of contracting gastrointestinal diseases. Cleaning places is done only when necessary in order to conserve water. Hospital staff washes their hands only when it’s essential and not on a regular basis when going from one patient to another, in order to conserve the water for life-saving treatment.