13-7-2011. Source: ENPI info Centre

The European Commission has allocated €4 million to address water scarcity which is affecting people in the occupied Palestinian territory. Rainfall in the area is 59% down from the rainy season average and the drought is testing the resilience of many Palestinian communities with water and fodder shortages, a European Commission press release said today.

The rainfall deficit by itself puts at risk the livelihoods of many Palestinians, for instance those who make a living by herding,” said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

“But the drought is particularly painful when it hits people whose access to water is already very limited by the occupation in the West Bank and by the Gaza Strip blockade. While many wells and other water sources are drying out, the occupation prevents Palestinian herders and their livestock from accessing some water points which have not been as badly affected,” the Commissioner said.

The new funding will provide water for around 50,000 people and their livestock in the West Bank. Special attention will be paid to those most affected by the combination of drought and Israeli-imposed restrictions – in southern Hebron, the Northern Jordan valley and other parts of Area C (which contains the Israeli settlements, buffer zones and includes the Judean Desert and much of the Jordan Valley).

The press release described control over water sources as one of the issues at stake in the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians in the occupied territory. Israeli settlements are usually built around the main water sources, it said, substantially restricting the access of Palestinians to water.

Between 2000 and the beginning of 2011 the European Commission provided €600 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.