Still Treading Water: Reviewing six years of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism and the dire water situation in the Gaza Strip
Six years after the establishment of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), people in Gaza continue to live on the brink of disaster as a result of 13 years of the Israeli blockade. The water, sanitation and health (WASH) sector remains significantly damaged, with Gaza facing the complete collapse of its wastewater treatment system. The reconstruction process is ongoing, but it is slow, costly, and hampers the humanitarian response.
Six years after the establishment of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), people in Gaza continue to live on the brink of disaster as a result of a 13 year blockade imposed by Israel. The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector remains significantly damaged, with Gaza facing a stark deterioration of available WASH services at the community and household level. The reconstruction process is ongoing, but it is slow, costly, and hampers the humanitarian response.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely aggravated existing vulnerabilities, including access to water and sanitation. This strongly impacts the daily lives of over 2 million people living in the coastal enclave, of whom 1.5 million – or 75% – have been identified as being in need of humanitarian assistance.
Oxfam has recently reviewed the challenges associated with the GRM and its impact on the WASH sector in Gaza. Its findings reveal that these challenges are an obstacle to the reconstruction of WASH infrastructure (including operation and maintenance), hindering efforts to address the increased needs of people in Gaza.
Donors and UN agencies should consider the needs of people in Gaza today. Rather than continuing with the GRM, they should explore how they can improve their engagement to be able to challenge the Israeli access restrictions, work towards economic development, ensure accountability within access mechanisms, and facilitate inclusive Palestinian participation to access mechanisms and the reconstruction of Gaza.
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