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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
9 March 2010

March Highlights

World Water Day 2010

At the 1994 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 172 governments agreed that World Water Day would be marked on March 22 of every year. This year's theme was water quality ¡V while almost three quarters of the earth is covered by water only one per cent is safe for human consumption. Unsafe drinking water is a major cause of waterborne diseases including diarrhea (the second biggest killer of children under five), hepatitis and typhoid.

While the oPt is on track towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal related to reduce by half the proportion of people with access to safe water and adequate sanitation, there are unique and complex challenges related to ongoing political negotiations with Israel, as well as overuse, contamination, wastage, and insufficient quality controls.

Gaza household survey findings

Gaza context
UN agencies and the Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) estimate that only 5% - 10% of the aquifer is suitable for human consumption and that this supply could run out over the next five to 10 years without improved controls.

“Cast Lead” damaged more than 30 kilometres of water networks, 11 groundwater wells, 6,000 roof tanks and 840 household connections.

Deficient supplies of industrial fuel and the severe, almost non-existent, supplies of essential materials such as cement and pipes for repair and maintenance work have rendered the water and wastewater services unreliable and hazardous.

The network’s poor state of repair means around 47% of supply is lost to leakage and flows are frequently intermittent with half the population receiving water a maximum of three days a week or not at all.

Damaged infrastructure also means millions of litres of raw effluent seeps into the environment. Even when the effluent is successfully discharged into one of Gaza’s three wastewater plants, much of it remains untreated because they function only intermittently.

WHO estimates that 26% of disease in Gaza is water related. It has also reported that the chance of an outbreak of water-borne and food-borne diseases, such as cholera, is high. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Gaza’s Department of Health reports that water diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea and viral hepatitis remain the major causes of morbidity among reportable diseases among refugees.

Drinking water
Although 98% of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are connected to the water network, the majority of Gazans (82.7%) rely on water vendors for drinking water. The average household spends 36 shekels (USD 9.70) a month, and some spend as much as much as 67 shekels (USD) 18 a month on water.

The vast majority, 86.9%, rely on desalinated water for drinking, which means they are consuming water stripped of essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.

Rising poverty has forced many to drink water drawn from private and agricultural wells that are polluted from farming and wastewater seepage. In Al Mawasi for example, where there is no water network and only 58% of households are able to buy water from vendors, 47% say agricultural wells are their primary source of drinking water.

Water supply
Al Maghazi camp is the only area where all households have running water the majority of the time, four to seven days a week. Across Gaza just 48% of households have running water four to seven days a week.

Around 10% of households are not connected to running water. In Al Mawasi no household has running water and in Khan Yunis camp 52% do not have running water. In some places like Rafah and Ash Shati’ Camp it runs just once a week.

An average of 18% of households said they had running water for more than 12 hours a day. In the majority of households (72%), the water flows less than 12 hours a day. Of these, 45% have running water for five to 12 hours and 27% for less than four hours. Residents in Al Qarara consume as little as 2.6 litres per day each for drinking and domestic purposes.

Domestic water
Most (84%) households rely on the network for their domestic water but in places where the connections are poor they rely on other sources.

In Al Mawasi, as few as 1.4% of households receive their domestic water from the municipal network while 98.7% draw it from private wells. In Jabalya refugee camp, just 13% source their domestic water from the network, 29% buy it from water vendors, 45% receive it through aid and 13% rely on private wells. In Khan Yunis camp 57% source their domestic water from the network and 43% from humanitarian aid.

Between 90% to 95%of the water in the municipal network is unfit for consumption and many households instead use their drinking water for making meals. Across Gaza, 47% of households use their drinking water to cook.

Beit Hanun has the highest incidence of households (64%) using drinking water for cooking even though they pay more than most (54 shekel/US$14.52 per litre) for their water.

Three-quarters of households are connected to the wastewater network. However no households are connected in Al Mawasi and Juhor ad Dik.

Hygienic practices vary with 45% of all survey respondents washing their hands before cooking and 65% washing their hands before eating.

In Al Mawasi, where there is no running water and no waste water connection, none of the survey respondents reported washing hands before cooking but all reported washing their hands before eating.

Indeed, it was the only place where 100% washed their hands before eating. In Juhor ad Dik, where there is no wastewater connection and almost 60% are not connected to the municipal water supply, hand washing before eating was 97% second only to Al Mawasi’s 100% record. Yet only 50% in Juhor ad Dik washed their hands before cooking.

Hand washing before cooking was most widely spread in Khan Yunis where 76.7% of respondents reported adhering to this practice. The same proportion also reported washing their hands before eating.

Across Gaza 44% of people shower every day. Showering everyday is most common in Beit Hanun (74%), where 88% of households report having running water four to seven days a week, even though it mostly runs less than four hours a day. Showering everyday is least common in Khan Yunis where less than 3% of households report this practice even though 79% have running water four to seven days a week.

Diarrhea is often contracted through polluted water or from poor hygiene practices. One in five households said they had at least one child under the age of five who had been infected with diarrhea in the four weeks prior to being surveyed.

However the incidence of diarrhea was much higher, affecting 40% of children in Beit Hanun where, even though hand washing before eating is more widespread (93%) than every other place in Gaza, except Al Mawasi, and where daily showering is most common (88%), hand washing before cooking is very uncommon (5.4%).

Yet in Al Mawasi, where no one washes their hands before cooking but everyone washes their hands before eating, less than one in five households had children who had been infected with diarrhea.

Approximately one in three households in Jabalya camp (32.1%), As Shat¡' Camp (36.2%), Northern Remal (34.7%), Ash Sheikh Radwan (38.3%), and Deir Al Balah (33.4%) reported children under five with diarrhea.

UNICEF's WASH programme

In oPt, UNICEF works to improve WASH infrastructure and hygiene promotion in schools; restore / rehabilitate connections to networks and filling points for extremely marginalized and vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza; and strengthen information management, especially in water quality surveillance. In 2010, UNICEF will work specifically to:

In Gaza, UNICEF supported a nine day water and sanitation awareness campaign in 28 elementary schools. In the closing ceremonies, children pledged to conserve water and spread awareness in their communities.

UNICEF’s approach to child survival and development works to ensure that communities and households have access to drinking water of adequate quantity and quality, as well as good sanitation and hygiene practices. UNICEF works in more than 90 countries around the world to improve water supplies and sanitation facilities in schools and communities, and to promote safe hygiene practices. In emergencies UNICEF provides urgent relief to communities and nations threatened by disrupted water supplies and disease.

Basic Indicators
1Total population (2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 18 years, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 5 years, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

Child population (under 1 year, 2010)
West Bank
PCBS, Population, Housing and Establishment Census, 2007

GNI per capita (US$, 2007)1230The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF

People living below the national poverty line
(%, 2007)±
West Bank
PCBS, Poverty and Living Conditions in the Palestinian Territory, 2007
Health and Nutrition

Under 5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
8Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births, 2006) West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births, 1995)70-80PCBS, 1995
10Children 12-23 months fully immunised (%, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
11Children 12-23 months immunised against measles (%, 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
12Stunting prevalence (moderate and severe) among under-5 (%, 2000-2007*)10The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF

Wasting prevalence (moderate and severe) among under-5 (%, 2000-2007*)1The State of the World’s Children 2010, UNICEF
14Malnutrition prevalence (underweight) (moderate and severe/severe (%, 2000-2007*)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006

Births attended by skilled health personnel (% , 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Palestinian Family Health Survey, 2006
16 Prevalence of HIV/AIDS No data
Water and Sanitation
17Use of improved drinking water sources (%)
West Bank
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
18Use of improved sanitation facilities (%)
West Bank
PCBS, Household Environment Survey database, 2003-2006
19Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Labor Force Survey atabase, 1995-2007
20Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
West Bank
PCBS, Education Census, 1994/1995 - 2006/2007
21Primary net enrolment ratio (Total/Male/Female; %; 2006)
West Bank
PCBS, Education Census, 1994/1995 - 2006/2007

± PCBS uses two measures of poverty: Deep Poverty (absolute) and Poverty.
*The Deep Poverty line reflects a budget for food, clothing and housing only. For a family of six the deep poverty line in 2006 was NIS 1,837. The Poverty line adds other necessities including health care, education, transportation, personal care and housekeeping supplies; raising the line to NIS 2,300 for a family of 6. Thus, the percentage of households in Poverty includes those in deep poverty.

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