The Guardian • Issue #2097

Water crisis adds to women’s health burden amid war on Gaza

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2097
Gaza woman feeds her baby.

Photo: Natalia Cieslik / World Bank – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Over 34,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since 7 October, 2023. Among them are over 10,000 women, 6,000 of whom have left 19,000 orphaned children, according to a recent United Nations report.

The health status and living conditions of women and girls in Gaza continue to plummet. Few feminine hygiene supplies are available, and infectious diseases pose a unique threat to women and girls as caregivers within their families.

The water and sanitation crisis has left women and families who are forcibly displaced surviving on as little as 1.5 litres of water per day. The minimum prescribed for crisis situations is 15 litres per day. The effects are particularly harsh on pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding infants. According to the UN report, breastfeeding women need at least 7.5 litres of water per day to stay hydrated.

“We are already noticing an increase in women and children struggling with dehydration and diarrhoea. Infants who have no access to breastfeeding – due to the inability or the death of a mother – and must use formula are especially vulnerable due to the need for clean, safe water, which is rarely available in Gaza at present,” a physician told the UN team as per the report.

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