Anera’s Environmental Impact in Palestine
by Hannah Wright Osborn
As an environmental studies graduate and a recent volunteer in the West Bank, where I saw firsthand the threats to the natural environment, I am reflecting on Earth Day this year through the context of the Palestinian natural landscape. The environmental situation in the Palestinian territories is devastating. A range of factors create an unhealthy and unjust environment for citizens in this region.
In a location that is already vulnerable to the hot and dry desert climate, global climate change is affecting natural resources like water and air – the most basic needs of life on Earth. The daily average per-capita water consumption in the West Bank is shocking 84.3 liters, compared to 302-378 liters in the United States! This is devastatingly low (WHO guidelines indicate people should have access to a minimum of 100 liters) due to the severe restrictions the Israeli government places on the ability of Palestinians to manage their water resources. This leaves them high and dry, literally. Of the natural water resources to which Palestinians would normally have access, the politics of the region leaves a mere 13% of the natural water for the 2.95 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank. To access enough water, Palestinians are forced to buy their own water from outside companies.
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