Water and Environmental Health for Palestine Refugees in the West Bank
The health status of Palestine refugees living in refugee camps in the West Bank is significantly challenged by poor environmental conditions. Infrastructure for water and sanitation must cope with natural population growth, increasing afflux of population, frequent military operations and unequal access to natural resources.
In the West Bank, the current water supply of 65.3 l/c/d is that of a low income country and significantly less than the international WHO recommendation of 150 l/c/d.
The status of water and sanitation infrastructure in West Bank camps is constantly deteriorating, posing serious threats to the health status of Palestine refugees (transmission of diseases such as Hepatitis A, skin and eye infections, pneumonia, diarrhea) and to the environment.
As part of its 2009 and 2010 Emergency Appeals, UNWRA directly responds to this situation and set up an Environmental Health Programme to improve the environmental health conditions of refugee camps in the West Bank and surrounding areas and minimize the risks of public health threats through (i) rehabilitation of public infrastructure in 16 camps (ii) removal of solid waste from eight refugee camps and (iii) raising awareness on water-related issues.
The project funded by the Austrian contribution covers two of these three program components, namely (1) the cost of rehabilitating the infrastructure of the 16 refugee camps and monitoring the quality of water and (2) the cost of water awareness campaigns and water quality tests. Through theses measures, the project benefits an estimated 175,691 refugees residing in the targeted camps.
Special attention is paid to traditional gender roles associated with water management in order to ease the burden imposed on women and to advocate for a more equal distribution of roles amongst women and men in the conflict-prone area. Thereby, the project is in line with Austria's commitment to support UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.