Ahmed Younis Khalil Alqiem is a 37 years old Palestinian, a father of five kids, 3 girls and 2 boys, who lives in Salah Eldien neighborhood of Deir Al Balah, located in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed used to work in constructions as a labor; currently he is unemployed due to the lack of construction activities in the Gaza Strip. There were not many options for Ahmed to be employed, as he dropped out from school at the age of 15 to help supporting his family. With an average income between 400 and 600 NIS a month (90 - 140 Euros), Ahmed can barely sustain the livelihood of his family, which is mainly dependent of external assistance having no other source of income.
Not only Ahmed and his family are facing bad economic conditions: access to water used to be another major obstacle before implementing a project by GVC in partnership with PHG (Palestinian Hydrology Group), funded by the Italian Cooperation in 2015.
The “Restore Access to Drinking Water and for Domestic Use in the Middle Area in Gaza Strip” project tackled mainly the rehabilitation of water wells damaged during 2014 offensive in Gaza, supporting the winterization plan carried out by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities (CMWU).
This project comes as a response for the massive need of the households (HHs) in this area, which mainly depend on the Abu Haman's New Well as a main source of water. Before the war, HHs of the area used to get water from a main reservoir connected to this Well, whose water was of good quality, and to two other wells from other areas, less good in terms of water quality. But after the war the Well was destroyed.
Ahmed recalls: “before the last Israeli attack in 2014, I used to track the electricity and the water all day long in order to fill my house tank. This caused me stress, we spent a lot of effort and money and the quality of water was not really good because of the bad water pipes connected to the reservoir. After the war lack of water was even more severe, because of the damages in the nearby well, so I managed to get water from one of my neighbors who owns a private well located on his land, so I was forced to purchase water for my family".
He adds "following the interventions, the well is now functioning; I’m now connected directly to it and not to the reservoir as it used to be before the war. This helped me to get water without using the electricity pump to fill my tank and to have access to good quality water. Also, this released me from tracking the water because whenever the electricity comes, the water is available to fill my tank and without using water pump which also released me from electricity expenses. The project helped me to reduce my expenses to around 80NIS a month, which positively affected the living conditions of my family which is in most need for this money”.
“Ripristinare l'accesso all'acqua potabile e per uso domestico nella Middle Area nella Striscia di Gaza (Restore access to drinking water and for domestic use in the Middle Area in the Gaza Strip)” is a project implemented by GVC in partnership with PHG and funded by the Italian Cooperation. The project aims at providing a life-saving emergency assistance for people living in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip by supporting the recovery of the essential water services and enhancing the winterization contingency plan. The project includes providing more than 82.004 people with reliable access to safe and sufficient water through supplying and installing water pumps, disinfection dosing pumps and stand-by power supply generators for different water wells. On the other hand the project aims at protecting more than 76.698 people from the incoming winter storms through supporting the service provider (Coastal Municipalities Water Utility) by assigning local contractors to clean the storm water and wastewater facilities, repairing heavy machineries, supplying mobile stand-by power generators and supplying protection clothes and tools.
The Director of the Italian Development Cooperation – Vincenzo Racalbuto - stated that "The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights. All people have the right to safe drinking water, sanitation, shelter and basic services” (General Comment No. 15. The right to water. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, November 2002)
In order to address the water crisis, the international community has increasingly recognized that access to safe drinking water and sanitation must be considered within a human rights framework. Such access is explicitly referred to, for instance, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
Italy, along with the international community, is deeply committed in the Gaza Strip - through the work of our Italian NGOs with approximately 1.5 M Euro in Wash sector in 2015 – in assuring that access to clean and safe water, and sanitation services are provided without any delay: we deeply believe that the right to water is the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
Access to clean water is a fundamental human right for all and only through Wash intervention projects we can alleviate the acute water shortage Ghazawi are facing in all the Gaza Strip. Our work is part of the EU's wider commitment to improving the lives of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank in particular in the area of water, sanitation and solid waste management".