Community planning for disaster risk management in the Gaza Strip – Occupied Palestinian Territory

Summary

This report presents the results of a comparative disaster risk assessment and CBDRM planning exercise conducted by Diakonie Katastrofenhilfe (DKH) and the Palestinian Association for Agricultural Development (PARC) in the Gaza Strip. The assessment is a component of the implementation of the community-based disaster risk management approach for the first time in the Gaza Strip. The CBDRM approach consists of six steps including community selection, relationship building, disaster risk assessment, CBDRM planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, this report examines the results of the first four steps. The next steps will be implemented in cooperation with DKH, PARC and other organizations interested in helping assessed communities become more resilient to current and future disaster risks.

In terms of community selection, DKH and PARC staff conducted sixty-one key informant interviews (KIIs) and 16 focus groups that included participants from governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the Gaza Strip. The targeted communities were those in which members share geographic boundaries, culture, perspectives and interests, have strong social ties and work together for common ends. Among these communities, priority has been given to those that are hazard-prone and suffer from high levels of socio-economic vulnerability. This selection process resulted in an initial list of thirty-nine communities. To reduce the list of targeted communities to seventeen, the hazard maps originally developed by PARC and Diakonie Katastrofenhilfe in 2014 for eight hazards included three additional hazards, based on findings from KIIs and FGDs. Risks assessed for communities were scarcity of water precipitation, scarcity of groundwater, salinity of groundwater, nitrate pollution of groundwater, flooding, flash floods, destruction by war, environmental facilities, coastal erosion, extreme weather conditions and the spraying of herbicides by Israeli aircraft. The entire thirty-nine communities were assessed in terms of community characteristics, access, safety of project personnel, hazards and general vulnerability, which ultimately resulted in the selection of 17 communities.

The seventeen targeted communities were then visited by the CBDRM team to establish relationships. The CBDRM team has engaged with community organizations and community leaders active in these communities. Subsequently, the CBDRM team held three workshops in each community to assess comparative disaster risks, identify hazards and priority risk scenarios, and establish CBDRM plans. In each community, the CBDRM team also set up Community Protection Committees (CPCs) which helped verify and finalize the plans. These committees have been trained on CBDRM and advocacy and will be further involved in PARC’s emergency preparedness and response plan.

The communities selected were:

  • Al Suraij, Al Zanna, Al Fukhari, Al Mawasi of Khan Younis and Khuza’a (Governorate of Khan Younis)
  • Al Amal, Al Salateen, Fado’us and Um el Nasr (Gaza North Governorate)

  • Al Sawarha, Hekr Al Jame and ‘Al Berka, (Deir Al-Balah Governorate)

  • Wadi Gaza, Al Malalha and Abu Hurayara (Gaza Governorate)

  • The Swedish Village and Shukat Al Sufi (Governorate of Rafah)

The comparative disaster risk assessment showed that the communities assessed had risk scores ranging from 22% to 42%. The communities most at risk were found to be Al Zanna, Al Suraij, Shokat as Sufi, Swedish Village and Khuza’a, whose scores ranged from 34 to 42 percent. These communities are all located in the southern governorates of Gaza, which face greater water scarcity and deteriorating water quality. Four of these communities are also border communities and face a high risk of war destruction and crop loss due to herbicide spraying by Israeli aircraft. The Swedish village suffers only from the risk of coastal erosion, being located near the shore south of Rafah. The populations of these communities are also highly dependent on natural resources, as they are mainly farmers and fishermen.

The seventeen targeted communities prioritized fifty-three hazards for their CBDRM plans – three each, with the exception of two communities which prioritized four. Of the fifty-three hazards, forty-five were related to the hazards used by PARC and DKH hazard mapping for the purpose of comparative disaster risk assessment, showing the high relevance of these hazards. In addition, most of the other hazards prioritized by the communities were related to the hazards used by PARC and DKH, such as tap water pollution (4 communities), organic groundwater pollution (1 community) and facilities. industrial (1 community). The hazard that least matched those selected for the disaster risk assessment was fishing-related occupational risk, selected by two communities most of whose members are fishers.

CBDRM plans for these communities are also summarized in this report. Some of the measures were preventive, mostly related to man-made risks such as environmental and industrial facilities, including campaigns to relocate these facilities. Other measures were mitigating, such as putting in place structures to mitigate the impacts of floods and flash floods. For risks such as destruction by war, providing well-equipped shelters and preparing emergency preparedness and response plans was a common theme.

This comparative disaster risk assessment and CBDRM planning report does not cover all population groups in the Gaza Strip, instead focusing primarily on the communities most connected, socially connected and actively supporting each other. . This leaves some population groups, mainly refugee camps and urban centers, unassessed. Other approaches, or an adapted CBDRM approach, are needed for these communities. Additionally, the data used in this report was collected primarily by the communities themselves, which empowers the communities but also requires some caution regarding the accuracy of the data. Further details of the assessed communities’ CBDRM plans can be found with their respective Community Protection Committees or PARC.

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