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OPT: Impact of the current crisis, technical report, # 7, Mar 2003

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1. Introduction & Background
Previous surveys and assessments reveal that many communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been directly or indirectly affected by current Israeli closure, curfew and siege policy. Those communities have been left vulnerable with inadequate water and/or sanitation services. Between 250 and 300 localities that rely on the purchase of water from private or municipal water tankers, have limited access to water sources because of closures and delays of tankers at checkpoints. Tankers companies are experiencing increased costs due to increased transportation time and costs; if tankers are able to get through, prices may increase as much as 80 percent. These price increases occur at the same time that incomes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are plummeting. Tanker or tractor-pulled water tankers often risk their lives in order to get access to water sources that are located outside of their area.

Reports indicate also that lack of access to adequate water supplies, reduction in increasingly cost-intensive (and sometimes inaccessible) human and solid waste evacuation, and use of often contaminated alternative water sources are already resulting in increased public health risks, including higher incidences of diarrhea and skin diseases.

However, the coverage that the information represents is low and scattered. This information is therefore incomplete and does not accurately describe the situations faced by communities. Nor does it provide a comprehensive indication of the vulnerability of the different communities, and whether communities have the capacity and coping mechanisms to solve any problems arising from the changing WaSH situation.

Accordingly, there was a strong desire among all agencies working in the WaSH sector for an increased emergency data availability to facilitate more timely and effective response to eventualities arising from the current crisis. Furthermore, the international and local agencies can adequately target the most vulnerable communities and determine emergency intervention.

In response to this deteriorated water and sanitation situation in the Palestinian areas and the felt needs for more timely and effective emergency information on water, sanitation and hygiene PHG has developed the Monitoring Program (MP) in order to provide the tool by which the impact of the Israeli siege policies on both the availability and accessibility of water and sanitation services to West Bank and Gaza communities can be assessed and responses to identified needs can be implemented. The project looks also to identify the vulnerability and to propose adequate actions to mitigate such impacts. The monitoring information will not only be used by technical organizations in order to respond via practical means, but to provide information for lobbying, advocacy, and communications work to all NGOs.

The PHG Water and Sanitation, Hygiene Monitoring Program (WaSH MP), started in June 2002 and is being implemented in cooperation with Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) through a number of its member organizations and in coordination with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA).

The current report is the Final report that provides summary information and findings of the previous work conducted in the past seven months in addition, it covers the information collected from the Palestinian communities surveyed in the past month. This information so far covers 615 communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

2. Project Setup

The Monitoring Project is designed in a way such that it involves most of the local environmental NGOs. Coordination with these NGOs has been developed by the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON), since it is felt that monitoring of the environment is in many ways not only within the interests of the environmental NGOs, but also within their mandate, particularly in the longer term. It is therefore an important part of a natural progression that water and sanitation related NGOs would take on this task. As 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. In addition to this, the Monitoring Project (MP) is supervised by a steering committee comprises 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 collected from the field through a questionnaire is being checked for quality assurance with the Technical Field Monitors (TFMs) seconded by Environmental NGOs and then entered into a locally designed database, analyzed and then reports are produced on at least monthly basis. The steering committee is reviewing the results and approves the proposed actions for distribution to all interested agencies.

3. Objective

The main objective of the Monitoring Program is to secure an increased and timely available reliable data to various WaSH agencies so that they can effectively respond to eventualities arising from the current crisis. Furthermore, the program provides useful information for lobbying, advocacy and communications work to NGO's working in the protection of human rights.

4. Accomplishments

The program has been designed to cover the 708 communities defined by PCBS in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, for the purposes of this program it was found that the number of communities that can be covered or included will not exceed 650 communities. The reason is that some of the identified communities by PCBS are only seasonal (summer or winter) and some others are considered parts of major cities such as Jerusalem. To date, 615 communities have been surveyed and seven reports have been produced (this one inclusive) on a consistent, monthly basis. These reports have been able to shed light on the major needs of the surveyed Palestinian communities and to propose required actions to support agencies working in the WaSH sector and in finding locations and recognized needed interventions to help ease the suffering of these communities.

Distribution of the WaSH Monthly Reports is done by email to the WaSH list, which includes over one hundred institutions and individuals working in this sector. The reports are also available at the Monitoring Project web page on the PHG site, and include the collected data concerning all surveyed communities since the start of the project in June 2002. The page has been launched in mid January 2003 under the title "Palestine Water for Life Campaign". It aims at making the findings of the project more readily and widely available. In addition, the website/campaign looks to target new audiences in order to increase information dissemination and awareness about water and sanitation in the Occupied Territories. The site will include the Monthly Reports, search/query section, regularly updated WaSH news, articles, pictures, etc. The site can be found at http://www.phg.org/campaign

The project is also supporting many organizations/institutions working in the WaSH sector by providing them with special data upon request which then facilitates and supports their work in Palestinian communities.

5. Methodology and Reliability of Data

To facilitate timely data availability, West Bank was divided into 9 main areas and Gaza Strip into 3 main areas and covered by the following NGOs:

Five areas are being covered by PHG. These include the following Governorates: Northern part of Gaza strip, Qalqilia, Nablus, Salfit, Jerusalem, Jericho and Ramallah.

Other environmental NGO's, members of PENGON, with part-time seconded staff are covering the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These areas are as follows:

1. Hebron is covered by Arab Studies Society / Land Research Center (LRC).

2. Bethlehem is covered by Applied Research Institute/ Jerusalem (ARIJ)

3. Tulkarm is covered by Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee (PARC).

4. Tubas+ Jenin is covered by The Palestinian Environmental Protection Society (PEPS).

5. Central and Southern Parts of Gaza Strip are covered by the Green Peace Association / Gaza (GPA). (Map 1 in pdf file below )

To ensure data reliability, written directions to fill in the questionnaire were provided to the TFMs. In addition, each questionnaire is being reviewed with the relevant TFM to make sure that the information gathered are appropriate and that it reflects the situation accurately. After that the information is entered into the database for further analysis and report production.

A two-day training session was arranged for the TFMs at the PHG offices in Al Ram on 11-12 of September. The used questionnaire was fully reviewed and discussed with them. Clarifications regarding certain questions were made, and after all it was a good chance for the whole team to meet and to exchange experience in this work.

Selection of surveyed communities was done in coordination with the TFMs; priorities are given to those communities which are directely affected by the current crisis; in some cases, TFMs were asked to visit specific communities where urgent needs were expected, to evaluate the situation in coordination with the local council if access was possible.

Visiting the community and discussion with the local council is the first step in filling the questionnaire for the related community. If this proved to be difficult, TFMs were asked to fill the questionaaire by telephone, but then they have to try to visit these communities later, to check data and assure its quality by meeting with local councils, which is the main source of data in all questionnaires; the questionnaire was not finalized unless field visit is conduted. In some cases access to specific communities was completely blocked because of closures and curfews. Data related to sanitation and hegeine situation of communities were double checked through local clinics, if vailable.

(pdf* format - 1.36 MB)

MAP - Occupied Palestinian Territory: Affected Communities by damage to Water Infrastructure

MAP - Occupied Palestinian Territory: Separation Wall

MAP - Occupied Palestinian Territories: Communities Without Water Network or with Bad Water Network