21 August 2014

With no solution in sight for an end to the current conflict, UNRWA is
doing what it can to meet the needs of Palestinians in Gaza. Since 13
July, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been sheltering in
UNRWA schools. The Agency continues to prioritize the health and
safety of the displaced, including through the provision of water for
drinking, cleaning, washing and hygiene purposes.

The Gaza Strip relies on water supply from the underlying aquifer
which has been over pumped for decades. By 2020 at the latest, Gaza
will be effectively without water. Most of Gaza’s households have
little or no water supply, and if available, the water is contaminated
and unfit for human consumption. Providing sufficient water to the
displaced in UNRWA schools and to other displaced in government
facilities is a daily challenge for the Agency, requiring close
coordination between UNRWA, private suppliers, municipalities and

Water is trucked to shelters at least twice a day. The drinking water
tanks UNRWA provided across its shelters are managed by area water
focal points, and water quality focal points (WQFPs). Each WQFP is
responsible for an average of five shelters. When the trucks arrive at
UNRWA schools, the WQFP checks the chlorine levels of potable water
before filling the drinking tanks. Over the course of 18 August, and
in cooperation with partners and donors, 708.6 cubic meters of potable
water were trucked to the shelters. This brings the potable water
supply to approximately 2.8 litres per person per day, excluding
bottled water delivered to the shelters in areas where the capacity of
water suppliers is insufficient. Yesterday, UNRWA also distributed
more than 200 pallets of mineral water to all designated emergency
shelters in the Gaza Strip. In addition to drinking water, 829 cubic
meters of non-potable water were trucked by UNRWA, municipalities and
contractors to shelters which have no access to other water sources.
IDPs use this water for washing, cleaning and hygiene purposes,
helping to maintain the health of their families and their

Mr. Khaled Al Arqan, an UNRWA teacher, is in charge of the shelter at
Rimal Preparatory Girls School in Gaza, which hosts 2,440 IDPs from
the Shajaiya area, in Eastern Gaza. “We do our best to provide safe
water, which is crucial for having a clean and healthy environment in
our shelters,” he said. In the framework of UNRWA’s hygiene and water
campaign, all UNRWA shelters have now formed IDP hygiene and water
committees, facilitated by university students and graduates hired by
UNRWA under the Job Creation Programme.

Ms Rahma Abu Harbid, an UNRWA personnel, is in charge of hygiene
committees in four shelters. “The hygiene conditions of IDPs have
improved since the forming of the hygiene committees, and the
activities include cleaning all facilities such as classrooms,
toilets, and yards,” she said.

The hygiene and water committees regularly hold awareness sessions to
help people understand and develop good hygiene practices to prevent
disease and promote positive attitudes towards good health and
responsible water consumption.

Nineteen year old Manar Abu Ajour is taking refuge in an UNRWA school
after fleeing from Shajaiya. She has seen an improvement in the
cleanliness of the shelter since the formation of the committee. “We
are taught to rationalize water consumption as water is crucial for
our personal hygiene. We use the available water for drinking,
cooking, bathing, washing clothes and washing classrooms, and we are
pleased with the hygiene standards at our shelter as we believe in our
culture that cleanliness is next to godliness,” Ms Abu Ajour said.