Specialists: Climate change negatively affects various aspects of life in the Gaza Strip

 Experts, representatives of civil organizations and environmental activists have warned of the seriousness of the water crisis and its relationship to climate change, and its impact on human health and the environment in the Gaza Strip.

They considered that the responsibility for the environment, public health and the health of citizens rests primarily with the official authorities, and they are supported in their missions by civil society organizations and all other sectors.

During a dialogue session entitled “The Impact of Climate Change on the Gaza Strip and the Required Interventions”, organized by the NGOs Network in Gaza within the project “Strengthening Democracy and Building the Capacity of NGOs”, in partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid, they stressed the importance of social responsibility in facing climate change and its effects, As well as the correct and sound management of the reality of water in terms of supply, quality control and the need to prepare to deal with climate changes that are expected to deepen this crisis.

The participants demanded conducting accurate and specialized scientific studies on the impact of climate change on the reality of life in the Gaza Strip, and linking climate changes through an anthropological study of the previous decades. They also called for tightening official control over the water and sanitation sector, solid waste, human health and the environment in Palestine in general, and especially in the Gaza Strip.

The participants called for the issuance and updating of legislation related to health and the environment and their application on the ground, and work to promote the rights of citizens to a decent life and access to clean drinking water, sewage treatment, and maintaining a clean environment.

The participants pointed out the importance of urban planning for cities, villages and camps, infrastructure development, and integrative collective action to avoid the dangers of climate change, especially in times of floods caused by the continuous and heavy rains that fall during the winter season.

The session was opened by the Director of the NGO Network in the Gaza Strip, Amjad Al-Shawa, stressing that this dialogue session aims to open discussion of research and knowledge about climate change and its effects on different areas of life.

Al-Shawa said, “The environmental changes we are witnessing are an indication that we are under the effects of climate change and therefore we have to work towards these environmental issues that threaten human life in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, working on the issue of climate change is a collective responsibility that requires the concerted efforts of all institutions and sectors, as well as putting forward plans and strategies with realistic interventions to limit the effects of these changes.

Water expert Yasser Nassar presented a paper on climate change and its serious effects on various aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.

Nassar said that “climate change is receiving increasing attention at the international, regional and national levels,” warning that the future of future generations in Palestine may be worse than the current reality.

He added that one of the most important effects of climate change is the increase in floods in the Gaza Strip, as happened during the “Alexa” storm, which struck the Strip in 2013, and flood waters inundated entire areas in the Strip, isolating its residents from the rest of the Strip and the world.

Nassar presented a map showing dozens of areas prone to flooding in the event of heavy rain, noting that more than 280,000 citizens are affected by floods in several areas in the Strip.

He pointed out that half of the Palestinians in the West Bank have lost their water sources after the drying up of underground wells during the last twenty years, describing the water situation in the Strip as worse than in the West Bank.

He referred to a recent World Bank report confirming that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a water crisis since 2005, while the United Nations Children's Fund "UNICEF" indicates that 10% of the population of the Strip has access to clean water.

He considered that half of the Gaza Strip's population needs real and serious interventions in the water and sanitation sectors, stressing that the citizen's right to access clean, safe and potable water should not be used as a punitive tool.

Nassar considered that the Israeli occupation and the siege policy are primarily responsible for the water and sanitation crises, human health and the environment.

He pointed to a report by the Environment Authority confirming that 75% of the sea beaches in the Gaza Strip are polluted, 12.4% of water wells are polluted with nitrates, and 65% of the water of desalination plants in the private sector is also contaminated with bacteria colonies.

Nassar explained that a third of household income in the Gaza Strip is spent on water and sanitation, while the United Nations General Assembly stresses that this should not exceed 3% of income.

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