JERUSALEM, 21 August 2017 – The worsening electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip has left families with less than six hours of daily power supply. Half of the 2 million people living in the coastal enclave are children.
The power shortages have decreased access to water by one third in the past four months.
Over 450 water and wastewater facilities are affected by the electricity shortages, raising the risk of waterborne diseases amid hot summer temperatures. Diarrhea cases among children under the age of three have more than doubled in three months.
“Between the heat, the lack of electricity, the smell of sewage and worries about water-borne diseases, families are under extreme stress,” said Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative in the State of Palestine, during her visit to the Gaza Strip last week.
The UNICEF-supported seawater desalination plant funded by the European-Union - which was built to provide safe drinking water for 75,000 people - is providing water at reduced capacity and is dependent on generators powered by emergency fuel.
More than 100,000 cubic meters of poorly treated sewage is being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day. More than two-third of this coastline is now polluted at a time when beaches are one of the few places of recreation and respite for children.
Vital services for children, including hospitals, now depend on back-up generators that are kept running by humanitarian fuel provision.
All responsible parties must work to resolve the water, sanitation and electricity crisis now, so children can access the basic services they need -- health, water, sanitation, education and protection -- which are their rights and are essential for their survival and well-being. Inaction is not an option.
UNICEF is facing a critical funding shortage of US$ 16 million to respond to the urgent needs of children in the Gaza Strip, including $5.9 million to provide safe drinking water, sanitation and essential hygiene to vulnerable communities and to support essential and life-saving child health interventions.
Note to the editors
- In the Gaza Strip, families’ access to the power supply dropped by one third, from an average 182 megawatts (MW) in February to 127 MW in July 2017, and as little as 113 MW in the past few days. This is a fifth of the 600 megawatts of power needed to provide full 24-hour supply in the Gaza Strip.
- Access to water has declined by one third in the past four months, from an average 84 liters per person per day to only 53 -- half of the international minimum standard of 100 litres. The situation is worse in southern governorates, where access to water is as low as 40 litres per person per day.
- Diarrhoea cases among children under the age of three have more than doubled in three months, from nearly 1,483 cases in March to 3,713 in June.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.