211495 Water availability and access in Palestine: Public health at risk

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:10 PM

Ann Hershberger , Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
WHO reports that the minimal amount of water needed on a daily basis is 100 liters per capita. In the West Bank the average per capita consumption is 66 liters, two-thirds of the minimum amount required by WHO figures. The majority of the water in West Bank aquifers is controlled by Israel. Rainwater shortages of the summer of 2008 are expected to continue and worsen. The recent attacks on Gaza worsened an already dismal water and sewage situation. The water systems in Gaza are collapsing, cutting people off from the water supply and causing sewage to flood the streets. In January 2009, 48 of Gaza's 130 wells were not working at all due to lack of electricity and damage to pipes leaving over 530,000 people entirely cut off from running water. Lack of access to safe water leads poor families to consume water from unprotected sources, posing serious concerns about potential public health effects. The current water shortage is also increasing the levels of food insecurity among rural communities, herders in particular, raising the risk of population displacement. Palestinian organizations are developing creative solutions. Aid for immediate relief is needed along with the long-term building of wells and filling points for rural communities. Israel is urged to issue permits for well construction to increase the amount of water Water Bankers are allowed to acces. Israeli and Palestinian governments must come to an equitable decision on sharing of water resources to avoid an impending catastrophe.

Learning Objectives:
1. Compare Israeli and Palestinian water consumption and access. 2. Contrast Israeli, Palestinian, and international laws regarding water. 3. Describe health challenges related to access and to availability of water in the West Bank and Gaza. 4. Discuss current and potential responses to the water needs in West Bank/Gaza/Israel.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified as a member of the planning group because I have organized Nursing Honor Society regional meetings in VA and conferences in Nicaragua. I am qualified to be a presenter because I have been a nurse educator for over 20 years and have presented regularly at conferences.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.