IRC Planning to Distribute Water Tanks and Launch Hygiene Campaign in War-ravaged Gaza Strip
January 30, 2009 - The International Rescue Committee is preparing a relief effort that will help Palestinians in war-ravaged Gaza gain access to much-needed water. Alan Manski, the IRC’s senior emergency coordinator, who is planning the effort from Jerusalem, said that the IRC will provide water storage tanks to homes without access to potable water.
“Tanks on the roofs of buildings which normally supply households with water have been destroyed by bullets and shrapnel,” Manski said. “To help people get access to clean water, we plan to install tanks for 500 households.”
Manski said that the bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip destroyed much of the already fragile water, sanitation and sewage infrastructure.
“The Gaza wastewater treatment plant is out of operation,” he said. “Wells and water pipes have been destroyed. Generators that pump waste-water from the lagoons are non functional and the sewer system is overflowing. As a result some 800,000 people are currently unable to receive water.”
To reduce health hazards resulting from the extensive damage to the water distribution system, the IRC is planning to launch a personal hygiene and public health campaign inside Gaza, as well as by directly distributing hygiene kits and garbage bags.
Moving humanitarian goods into Gaza is a challenge, Manski said.
“Access to aid groups remains restricted, and the IRC has not been able to enter Gaza. We hope that this will change soon. In the meantime, we are starting to explore working with local Palestinian organizations inside Gaza.”
Last week, the Jordan River Foundation, which is receiving funding from the IRC, distributed drugs, medical equipment and other humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The aid was delivered to the United Nations relief agency, UNRWA, in Gaza for distribution to hospitals and other centers that are providing aid to civilians.
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