Earlier this week the Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak agreed to partially lift Israel’s suspension of fuel supplies and aid to the Gaza strip. Due to continued fighting and gun fire in the region, the convoys have been delayed and the humanitarian crisis deepends. Photojournalist Stefano Serra traveled to the West Bank last month to document one vital aspect of Israel’s hold over the region, the supply water, greatly impacting the people who live there.
A 45 per cent reduction in average annual rainfall has left the 200 communities of the occupied Palestinian territories who are not served by a water network (at least 220,000 people), experiencing severe water shortages. Many are not able to meet their basic water needs, especially during the summer months. Some areas only receive water every fortnight and, unless the current supply is increased by Israel, this will become the norm.
Increasing dependence on water tankers has led to the worst affected communities paying up to 40 per cent of their monthly income on water to meet their basic personal, domestic and livestock requirements. Around 10 per cent of West Bank communities are surviving on less than 10 litres per person per day, well below the World Health Oraganisation guidelines which stipulate 50-100 litres per person per day to ensure good health and hygiene. Lack of water has led many to consume from unhealthy sources, such as stagnant wells, and is leading to food shortages in the area.