February 15, 2022 | History of the Anera-Islamic Relief USA Partnership in Palestine 2014 – 2021
Anera and IRUSA’s long relationship has allowed both organizations to respond quickly in crises in tandem with long-term sustainable development. In every major conflict since 2014, IRUSA has been a critical partner in the emergency response. The partnership enables Anera to bring food and medicines to those left vulnerable from these events. Anera’s staff in Gaza are from the communities they serve. They provide critical situational analysis that informs Anera and IRUSA’s medium- and long-term responses in Gaza. This partnership has increased Anera’s expertise in areas including women’s economic empowerment and water, sanitation, and hygiene projects, leading to innovative, green, cutting-edge solutions to Gaza’s chronic needs.
In response to the damage sustained by critical WASH infrastructure during the 2014 conflict in Gaza, Anera and IRUSA launched the Urgent Water Systems Repair Program. The intervention restored water supply lines to homes and communities that sustained damage, reconnecting 600 houses to water networks and 220 houses to wastewater networks, benefitting at least 12,000 people.
Anera repaired and replaced damaged rooftop water storage tanks, and installed about 16,000 linear meters of water pipes and about 4,500 linear meters of wastewater pipes. Anera engineers consulted with the community and the Palestinian Water Authority to conduct assessments, prioritize projects, and design interventions based on community needs. To complete the project, Anera collaborated with local firms and procured local materials, stimulating the local economy. In total, the project created more than 60 job opportunities for approximately 1,600 labor days.
Anera and IRUSA launched the Right Start! program in Gaza in 2014 to improve the quality of early childcare, education, and development for preschool children in 10 kindergartens in Khan Younis, Deir El Balah, Jabalia Refugee Camp, Rafah, Beit Lahia, Shuja’iah, and Gaza City. Anera renovated the 10 schools and provided teacher training and workshops. Anera also developed and distributed Haya Naqra (“Let’s Read”) reading packs for children at the preschools. To promote positive parenting, Anera conducted community awareness sessions for parents.
The project improved learning environments through teacher training. It also raised awareness of the importance of reading and interactive play for children. Sixty-three teachers and head teachers benefited from training and mentorship in the program. Six other teachers also received indirect training resources from the project. One thousand eight hundred twelve children in 11 preschools benefited from improved teaching and learning environments. They were able to take part in spring camps and early childhood development activities. One thousand eight parents and caregivers participated in 30 positive parenting training sessions. Anera estimated that over 3,000 children benefited indirectly as a result of positive parenting skills gained by parents.
In response to Gaza’s limited water access, Anera and IRUSA launched WASH I to increase water access and improve sanitation in Gaza. Anera replaced old and deteriorated water and wastewater networks with new ones. Anera also distributed hygiene supplies and conducted WASH education campaigns. The supplies and campaigns educated community members on best practices for mitigating the health risks associated with unclean water and poor hygiene and sanitation. WASH I improved the living conditions of more than 39,000 Palestinians. The beneficiaries included 23,000 children living in 10 communities in Gaza. Anera completed 21 water and wastewater systems through the intervention. It also installed 18,990 meters of water pipes and 12,504 meters of wastewater pipes. Finally, Anera conducted 85 WASH awareness sessions and distributed 4,555 hygiene kits.
The WASH I program helped families understand how to prevent and recognize parasitic infection. Parents learned how to counter the risk factors of poor hygiene and environmental conditions. The project also enabled beneficiaries to protect the health and wellbeing of their entire families. In particular, beneficiaries learned how to protect the most vulnerable populations from preventable, often life-threatening illnesses.
The 2014 war caused significant infrastructure damage in Gaza that caused a loss of livelihoods in rural communities. Anera and IRUSA began the Gaza Rural Recovery Program to help rural communities recover after the war and restore livelihoods by repairing agricultural infrastructure. The repairs enabled farmers to bring their products to market and process produce into higher value products. The project restored farms for 260 families and six miles of agricultural roads, restoring and planting an area of 128 acres destroyed during the war. Rehabilitation activities included leveling, plowing, soil preparation, and crop planting. Anera installed irrigation networks and 12 ponds to store water for the clusters of farms. Finally, Anera rehabilitated two square miles of agricultural roads. The rehabilitated roads ensure access to markets and supply chains for smallholder farmers. Results showed that these efforts increased farmers’ income by 46%.
The program provided 64 employees at eight women’s cooperatives with food processing equipment. It also provided 160 households with solar cook stoves to reduce their household fuel costs. Anera supported six cooperatives by adding new tools to existing kitchens. The other two cooperatives started food processing for the first time. Each cooperative employed 8-12 women on an hourly basis. Results showed that the project increased these women’s monthly income by 55%.Through the project, Anera created 6,500 short term job opportunities. The jobs provided income generating opportunities to the local community. By creating these opportunities, Anera indirectly stimulated the local economy.
Anera and IRUSA began implementing the second phase of the WASH program in 2017 in Rafah, Khan Younis, Middle City, Gaza City, and North Gaza. The program increased the accessibility of residential water and improved wastewater management. It also upgraded water wells and improved sanitation practices.
One of the main components of the program focused on maintenance works of Jameel Al Shawa water well. Maintenance included replacing manifolds fittings, the chloride unit, and the electrical network. It also included installing a sunshade, fuel tank, and civil works. The intervention provided potable sources of water to 392 households. Anera did so by connecting households to local water networks. Anera also connected 87 houses to wastewater networks, preventing the households from exposure to pathogens.
Along with infrastructural development, Anera conducted community awareness raising campaigns through the program. The campaigns covered best hygiene practices, including the distribution of hygiene kits and educational materials. Throughout the project, Anera laid more than 16,000 meters of water and wastewater pipes. Anera also distributed more than 1,850 hygiene kits and connected more than 400 homes to water and wastewater networks.
In the years following the 2014 bombardment, Gaza continued to face restriction impeding reconstruction or economic development. Beginning in March 2018, Gaza experienced one of its most challenging periods. The Great March of Return protests resulted in a worsening humanitarian crisis and left hospitals with a 70% shortage of essential drugs and medical lab testing materials and a 30% shortage of medical supplies.
In response, Anera and IRUSA launched the Gaza Health Response. The project improved Gaza hospitals’ ability to treat patients in critical condition by delivering medicines and supplies requested by Shifa Hospital, Al Ahli hospital, and Central Blood Bank Society. Anera delivered the most critically needed medicine to Shifa Hospital, which is Gaza’s largest public hospital containing the only trauma center. Shifa Hospital provides almost 70% of the public medical services in Gaza in peacetime and serves the entire population. It provides almost 90% of the emergency medical services during war and in times of unrest. Shifa hospital received critical items such as antibiotics, anesthetics, and ibuprofen.
Anera also delivered medical supplies to Al Ahli hospital, which treats over 45,000 patients a year. Al Ahli hospital serves the community of Gaza City and beyond and opens its doors to the wounded and their families in times of crisis. The supplies donated to Al Ahli Hospital included cotton, gauze, and various needles for blood tests and surgeries.
And we delivered supplies to the Central Blood Bank Society, Gaza’s only public blood bank. The Central Blood Bank Society serves the entirety of Gaza. Anera provided supplies and blood kits to the Blood Bank Society, including slides, blood bags, HCV architects, HIV architects, and HBsAg architects.
In total, Anera and IRUSA coordinated six shipments of medicines and supplies to address the Gaza emergency. The donations helped Al Ahli Hospital, Shifa Hospital, and the Central Blood Bank Society address the urgent situation in Gaza. Anera met the needs of these organizations by locally procuring medicine and medical supplies. It also delivered shipments of critically needed medicine and medical supplies. By addressing these needs, Anera helped roughly 55,000 people.
During Ramadan, Muslim families break their daily fasts with the iftar meal to replenish the nutrients of Muslim families after long days of fasting. Vulnerable families often struggle to afford the nutrient-rich foods needed to break their fasts. The Ramadan Food Packages program provided nutritious meals for these families to fuel their bodies. Throughout Ramadan, Anera delivered 590 food packages, serving 3,729 vulnerable people in Gaza. The food packages provided each family enough food for approximately 10 days.
In 2019, Palestinians in Gaza continued to confront substantial challenges to daily life due to the ongoing blockade and regular clashes. These resulted in economic instability and declining infrastructure, which deepened the humanitarian crisis. In response, Anera and IRUSA launched the Humanitarian Aid program, completing nine shipments of essential medicines and medical supplies.Anera delivered these to hospitals, clinics, and blood banks in Gaza and the West Bank. The Humanitarian Aid program served 532,668 beneficiaries in Palestine.
Anera’s medical donations team in Gaza procured essential medications for local healthcare clinics in addition to 80 wheelchairs, 40 sets of crutches, and 40 walkers for adults and children. Anera delivered these to the Society for the Physically Handicapped. The Program’s team also procured 6,400 blood bags for Shifa Hospital and the Central Blood Bank Society. Through this grant, Anera delivered its first shipment of cancer medication, capecitabine, to Gaza. Capecitabine is a chemotherapy tablet that helps with treatment of breast, colon, and rectal cancers. Anera also delivered a shipment of tacrolimus through this grant. Tacrolimus prevents the rejection of a kidney, heart, or liver transplant. In total, the grant covered five shipments of specialized medicines to Gaza, as well as medicines that treat chronic diseases.
The medical donations team in the West Bank locally procured five different medicines including three antibiotics, an antacid, and a cholesterol medication. Anera delivered the medicines to eight recipient healthcare centers. The program’s team procured just over 45,000 units of the five medicines for these recipients. Anera completed four shipments and delivered 127,140 units of antibiotics. It also delivered 2,297,834 units of diabetes medication, 216,000 units of pregnancy vitamins, 330,900 units of analgesics, 400,034 units of antibacterials, and 72,000 units of antihypertensives. In total, Anera delivered 3,443,908 units of these important, heavily used medications. The over 2 million units of diabetes medication donated covered an estimated 28% of the total need for diabetes medication of Anera’s recipients.
One of the most vulnerable groups in Palestine is women-headed families, who make up 10% of households in the West Bank. To support women to generate their own income and thus enhance their resilience, Anera and IRUSA launched Women Can. The project supported and started a variety of businesses. Anera based the intervention on the beneficiaries’ interests and assets. These included small sheep farms, laying chicken farms, beauty salons, grocery stores, housewares shops, shoe shops, sewing, orchards, and other businesses. The project supported 109 marginalized families in starting new small enterprises or developing their existing businesses. As a result, it increased household income generation and enhanced their resilience. The program addressed the needs of women beneficiaries by training them to conduct business, providing needed business supplies, providing mentorship, and conducting capacity building activities.
By the end of the project, 52 enterprises were already mature, operational, and generating a monthly income ranging from 90 to 900 USD. The remaining 57 made progress but required more time to reach maturity due to the impact of COVID-19, the novelty of the enterprise, the seasonality of some enterprises, and/or the need for more time to become productive.
Anera provided new equipment, tools, and other items to improve productivity. These also enabled entrepreneurs to augment income and gains. For example, catering businesses spent 3 hours preparing food that would have previously taken 8 hours. Supporting existing beauty salons enabled women to earn $60 per day instead of $15 per day.
By the end of the project, 34% of the beneficiaries had already made further additions and modifications to their enterprises. The beneficiaries made these on their own accord and at their own expense to improve operational opportunities. Ten percent of the beneficiaries had already started hiring more employees.
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