oPt

OPT: The basics - accessing safe water

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Colum Wilson, Humanitarian Adviser, DFID Jerusalem:

Even before the conflict, access to safe drinking water was a problem in Gaza. Over two years of blockade meant that vital equipment needed for the construction, maintenance and operation of water and sanitation facilities was unavailable. Already weakened infrastructure was further damaged during the military offensive.

Today, about 10,000 people in Gaza do not have taps in or near their homes. An additional 60 percent - about one million people - do not have continuous access to water. Even when water is available, it is estimated that 90-95 percent is unfit for human consumption.

In responding to the conflict, DFID funded short-term projects by Oxfam and ACF aimed at improving access to water, both in the immediate and longer term. With UK support, over 43 million litres of drinking water was distributed and over 335,000 Gazans will continue to benefit from improved access to water supplies.

We're glad to be making a difference, although much remains to be done. Continuing restrictions on many of the items needed to address the very serious water and sanitation problems mean that a gradual, long-term deterioration of these essential services continues.

The international community will continue to do what it can to respond, but only with a relaxation of these restrictions will we be able to help provide ordinary Gazans with that most basic right - ongoing access to sufficient quantities of safe, accessible and affordable water.