In war-torn Gaza, water pollution behind health woes

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Water, along with sunlight, is one of the two main ingredients for life.  One without the other would render our planet lifeless, but with our Sun having roughly 5 billion years left of fusing hydrogen into helium, it’s safe to say water is the more important commodity at this moment in time.

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Water pollution can come in many forms.  It can be chemical or biological in origin.  Other parts of the world experience a much tougher time when it comes to gathering water due to pollution, salinity, or scarcity; therefore, it’s hard for us to understand the daily plight of people in places like war-torn Gaza.

Gaza, or the more formerly known Gaza-strip, is a small Palestinian country which borders the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, and Israel. Whether you agree or disagree with their religious ideology, you cannot deny the human suffering that has gone on in that part of the world.  Living in a country that has seen the brutalities of war on a daily basis, now having a burgeoning water crisis is something these people wish to avoid.

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The population in Gaza is suffering from water pollution and the numbers inflicted are increasing every year.  Hospitals are seeing increases of almost 15% year over year of residents with chronic kidney issues, such as kidney stones and urinary tract infections.  Furthermore, lead and sulfur have been leaching into local water supplies from the remnants of ammunition fired during the war.  Agricultural runoff from pesticides is increasing the prevalence of cancer nationwide and fecal contamination from wastewater is infecting the nation’s children.  Doctors are seeing increases in childhood parasitic diseases, severe diarrhea, and malnutrition.

The water table is shrinking faster than it can be replenished. With three wars since 2008 and an unemployment rate hovering around 44 percent, the residents are turning more and more to self-sufficiency and when the water table drops, the sea water rushes in and increases the salinity.  This increased salinity strains outdated filtration plants and public water systems.  The most recent estimate suggests 97% of the water is unsafe to drink and the water may be undrinkable by 2020.

International aid is building a large desalination plant in Gaza.  In January, the largest desalination plant opened and is able to supply 75,000 people with safe water and that number will rise to 150,000 when the second phase is opened later in the year.  Additionally, other plants are slated to be built in the near future.  However, changing behavior surrounding water scarcity needs to change.  A public campaign to store rainwater and reuse water has started and is gaining traction.  Even with the desalination plants and the recycling of water, the water table needs to be replenished without being touched for this part of the world to meet its water needs for the foreseeable future.

The next time you go to the refrigerator to get a glass of water or walk to the convenience store to buy water, think about how good we have it here.  If you can relate to the ongoing humanitarian issues in Gaza, please donate to your favorite charity.

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Disclaimer:  “Any opinions stated in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CSUN faculty/ staff. Information contained herein has not been verified by CSUN faculty/staff.

Image source:  https://pixabay.com/

Image source disclaimer:  Images and Videos on Pixabay are released under Creative Commons CC0. To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived their copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images and Videos

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