Water For Life Campaign
About the WaSH Monitoring Project
The ongoing political, economic and social crisis in the Occupied Territories has wreaked sever havoc on the water and sanitation hygiene (WaSH) situation there. Meanwhile, the available WaSH-related data were scarce, scattered, and incomplete. This data failed to accurately describe the reality on the ground faced by many so communities—much less to serve as a tool for improving it. It also failed to provide a comprehensive indication of the vulnerability of different communities, and could not be used to assess whether these communities had the capacity and coping mechanisms to solve WaSH-related problems; problems which have often meant appallingly sub-standard levels of clean water availability.
This situation, coupled with the unanimous belief among humanitarian agencies in the sector that only increased, timely data accessibility would allow international and local organizations to target the most vulnerable communities and determine the needed emergency intervention, led to the creation of the Water and Sanitation Hygiene Monitoring Project (WaSH MP). The WaSH MP was founded under the auspices of the Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG). The main objective of the Monitoring Project (MP) is to facilitate a more timely and effective response to grave WaSH-related problems arising from the current crisis, by collecting and disseminating accurate data to the appropriate organizations. This data has taken the form of weekly reports, described in detail, below.
In addition, in order to abide by its mandate to promote emergency intervention, the MP’s monitoring information will not only be used by WaSH agencies in order to respond via practical means, but will be applied towards lobbying, advocacy, and communications efforts. In short, the Project seeks to increase local and international awareness of the WaSH situation in the Occupied Territories; to encourage mobilization around the issues involved so as to help affect much-needed change.
Phase I of the Project: WaSH Monthly Reports
The Monitoring Project began its work in the middle of June, 2002, seeking to cover each of the 708 communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By March, 2003, the MP had succeeded in producing eight monthly reports covering approximately 643 Palestinian communities. These WaSH monthly reports were the culmination of the information collection and analysis by the MP, and were the medium, up until that point, by which various agencies accessed this much-needed information. This marked the end of phase one of the project.
Phase II of the Project: WaSH Weekly Reports
Based on the success of the first phase of the project, detailed above, and based on the requests of numerous organizations utilizing the WaSH MP data, the decision was taken to release reports on a weekly basis in phase two of the project. As such, the WaSH MP now disemminates weekly reports, made available on its website , as well as via a free email subscription.on the index page
Findings in Brief
There is no dispute over the fact that life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is worsening. In brief, our findings state that the key issues currently affecting the WaSH sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are as follows:
- There is a significant discrepancy between the actual WaSH needs of Palestinian communities and the relief efforts that are taking place on their behalf, leaving some of the neediest communities in neglect.
- The increased level of unemployment in Palestinian communities – whereby families of farmers and laborers are jobless and are forced to deplete their modest savings – is having major consequences on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene situation.
- In the cases of communities which are provided with water through a network, the percentage of families in nearly all of these surveyed communities which cannot afford to pay their water bills has, in many cases, reached 100%.
- For communities that depend on water tankers as a main source of water, poor families are particularly vulnerable, with few or no alternatives to purchasing water. Many communities have a considerable percentage of families which cannot afford to buy water from tankers.
- Numerous families suffer from a lack of funds to pay for wastewater evacuation tankers. The resulting pollution is having a direct negative affect on the state of sanitation and hygiene within these communities.
- Among many of the surveyed communities, closures and curfews are a major problem. For example, the unavailability of health services in many communities means a dependence on services in adjacent or nearby communities; unfortunately, actually reaching such localities can prove extremely difficult, if not impossible. Many communities also rely on the purchase of water from tankers, but many tankers experience limited access to water sources. At the same time, tanker companies are experiencing increased costs due to increased transportation time; these price increases occur at the same time that incomes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are falling. In many communities, drivers of water tankers often risk their lives in order to get access to water sources that are located outside of their area.
- There is continued, strong evidence of the spread of water-related diseases in many communities that are forced to use alternative contaminated water sources.
- In the past two years, the Israeli water company Mekorot has seriously reduced the quantities of water supplied to many Palestinian communities. In many cases, Mekorot has completely stopped the provision of water to them altogether. Many of the surveyed Palestinian communities that still get some water from Mekorot receive insufficient quantity, and have expressed their fear that Mekorot will completely stop providing water to them.
- Another dramatic development in relation to the WaSH situation is the building of the Separation Wall. The direct effects of the first phase of construction are already being experienced in the Qalqilia, Tulkarm and Jenin Governorates. Over 30 groundwater wells will likely be affected by the first phase alone, with attendant consequences for the agricultural lands relying on these wells. At least 15 villages will be separated from their land by the wall, while a minimum of another 15 will be trapped between the Wall and the Green Line, with nearly all their lands confiscated in the newly-created zone.
The Monitoring Project was designed to involve a large number of local environmental NGOs. Coordination with these NGOs has been led by the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), since it is felt that the monitoring of the environment is in many ways not only within the interests of environmental NGOs, but also lies within their mandate—particularly in the longer term. It is therefore natural that water and sanitation related NGOs would be involved in the Monitoring Project. Since water and sanitation relate to the use of common resources and common environmental risks and assets, it is also important that civil society is able to have a role and a voice in reporting and responding to the effects of the present crisis.
To facilitate timely data availability, the West Bank and Gaza Strip has divided into five. The Greenpeace Association is responsible for the first area, the Gaza Strip; the Palestinian Environmental Protection Society monitors the second, comprised of Jenin, Tulkarm and Tubas; the Land Research Center covers a third: Hebron and Bethlehem; with PHG itself monitoring the balance of the West Bank.
In addition, the Monitoring Project is supervised by a steering committee comprised of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), Oxfam-GB and the Palestinian Central Bureau of statistics (PCBS).
The information is collected from the field, via a standardized questionnaire, and is checked for quality assurance by five Technical Field Monitors (TFMs), one for each area, before being entered into a locally designed database, analyzed, and reported. The steering committee reviews the results and approves proposed actions for distribution to all interested agencies. This information covers the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
To access the data in our online database click here.
To view the WaSH Monitoring Project reports, please see the Weekly Reports section under publications.