Gaza: Alternative Repair Strategies

GOAL:

Identify viable, safe options for repairing and rebuilding damaged homes in Gaza, and increase communities’ access to feasible alternatives and needed resources to repair homes.

UPDATE:

1. AFSC/Gaza, UUSC, Architecture for Humanity, have completed their survey, assessment and report on the damage incurred by 333 households in Gaza. We are providing this report with NGOs and community organizations doing work in Gaza to share ideas for selecting beneficiaries, structuring the local partnerships and suggesting alternative repair approaches. We will be implementing some of the repairs to these households, but cannot provide it for all. We hope to work with others to return houses throughout Gaza to a safe and dignified state.
You can download a PDF of this report here:
Download the Full Report
Gaza Alternative Repair Strategies (pdf 5.5mb)

For approximately $20, a bound copy can be purchased on line at www.blurb.com.

Please share with us your comments, questions and reports of your Gaza repair work.

CRITICAL ISSUE:

Provide durable, permanent roofs before the rainy season

HOW YOUR DONATION COULD HELP:

$330,000 would provide the materials to repair all 333 houses
(in 6 neighborhoods) in this study to their original condition. A little bit
more would not only return the homes to their previous conditions, but
enable the improved use of sustainable, durable materials and systems.

$70,000 could completely repair the 40 most damaged homes.

$18,000 could provide windows for the 40 most damaged homes
.
$7,000 could replace broken solar water heaters and water storage
tanks in 40 homes.

BACKGROUND:

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Residential zones suffered significant damage during the 2008/2009 conflict (referred to as “Operation Cast Lead”) between Israel and the Palestinian Territory. According to the UN’s latest estimates (UN OCHA reports), over 15,000 homes sustained damage displacing 100,000 palestinian families. Destruction from the war has left thousands of families living in sub-standard conditions: 2,870 homes still need major repair, 3,540 need complete rebuilding, and another 52,900 homes have sustained moderate damage.

An Israeli-imposed blockade since June of 2007 has hampered rebuilding and repair efforts. Goods and equipment in storage outside of Gaza, cannot be transported into the territory. International organizations seeking to repair and rebuild homes have had difficulty getting permission to import building supplies.

As of 2009, the Gaza economy is stagnant, unemployment is near 50%, and poverty is widespread. It is estimated by the UNDP that 80% of people in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid for their survival. In response to this humanitarian crisis in Gaza, UUSC opened a relief Fund on January 8, 2009. UUSC subsequently collaborated with AFSC and Youth Bank on a project that coupled psycho-social assistance with practical support to needy families. Youth were involved throughout as actors and beneficiaries. The goal of the project was to re-establish a sense of normalcy in the lives of people, especially young people, by engaging youth in the mental and physical reconstruction of their communities. Through the project, 30 young leaders were trained to provide community-based psychological support. These community workshops reached nearly 250 children and 75 mothers from areas particularly affected by the war.

The housing repair part of the project reached 30 vulnerable families in hard-hit urban areas. The selection of families included the neediest families, including those with more than five children under 18, those living in deep poverty, and those with disabled family members. Together with young people involved in AFSC/Gaza’s youth groups, these families were able to make small but critical repairs to their homes.

Upon evaluation of the project, UUSC and AFSC agreed that repairs were effective, and have helped improve the quality of life for the families involved in the project. Lessons learned and recommendations emphasized the need to have scale up these efforts. Many families are still living in damaged homes and there is a need to develop viable, safe options for repairing and rebuilding homes that utilize available materials. This has led to further conversations between AFSC, UUSC, and Architecture for Humanity. Together, we have agreed that an initial assessment in two or three neighborhoods where AFSC works would give a picture of what problems are most common and/or critical, and how they might be addressed. This would lead to the development of repair/rebuild strategies that can be used widely and shared with other organizations working in Gaza.

ORGANIZATIONS:

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. UUSC envisions a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights. UUSC's Rights in Humanitarian Crises unit works to defend the rights of marginalized groups to relief assistance, participation in reconstruction, and full recovery. UUSC forms partnerships with local or national organizations working with marginalized people and works together to strategize about how to best defend their rights to relief and recovery. UUSC seeks to support those people who continue to struggle against the structural inequalities rooted in their societies and exacerbated by emergencies.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. AFSC was founded in 1917 and today has programs that focus on issues related to economic justice, peace-building and demilitarization, social justice, and youth. AFSC currently has programs in 43 locations around the world. AFSC’s presence in the Middle East began in 1949 in the Gaza Strip when the UN asked AFSC to organize the provision of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees prior to the establishment of UNRWA (UN Relief Work Organization). AFSC/Gaza now carries out a youth civic engagement project with local partner organizations. Limited humanitarian assistance projects are implemented by AFSC through these partners.

Architecture for Humanity is a non-profit organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. With 80 chapters in 25 countries and more than 4,650 volunteer design professionals, Architecture for Humanity brings people who care about sustainable development together and provides a range of design and construction administration services to partners and clients through a global network of design, development and construction professionals with local expertise and knowledge.

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