Making a Splash: Somalia, Gaza
In 2010 the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council recognized access to safe drinking water as a human right, and in 2015, Sustainable Development Goal 6 issued a call to action to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.  However, to date 2.2 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water. 
Limited access to clean and safe water does not always mean that there is no water available. Water may be available, however, due to contaminants and unsanitary conditions, the water is not safe to use. In light of this, HCI has embarked on a couple of unique projects which will allow us to address the challenge of access to clean water in communities. In Somalia, we are leveraging the use of technology, and in Gaza, our goal is twofold:
1. To make clean water available to communities;
2. To leverage the use of technology so we can bring sustainable solutions to the water crisis.
In Somalia, due to the depth of wells, diesel generators are used to pump out water. In many communities after the wells have been dug and the diesel generators installed, community members struggle to maintain the well because of the high cost of diesel. Acknowledging this barrier to clean water, we have decided to take a more sustainable approach to our water projects in Somalia. This year, we are investing in clean water by way of solar energy through the Solar Power for Sustainable Water in Abudwak, Galgaduud Region Of Somalia project.
When developing this project, our local partners consulted with community members who advised us that their problem was not a lack of water, but instead, their challenge was maintaining the well which required a constant source of diesel. Understanding this, we are now working with a local organization to install solar panels on two existing wells to meet the wells’ energy needs. These wells provide water for a combined 2000 households who use the water for their domestic needs, their livestock, and their vegetation.
Next year, we expect the solar panels to replace the diesel generators. This will remove the burden of acquiring diesel which caused the community challenges. Through this project, we are building the capacity of the existing water infrastructure to meet the needs of the community for years to come.
Similar to Somalia, the Gaza Strip faces unique challenges pertaining to access to clean water. Gaza Strip is home to an estimated 1.9 million people of which 1.4 million are Palestinian refugees. Due to years of conflict and blockades, the people of Gaza face extreme hardships on a daily basis.  Two of their daily challenges are limited access to clean water and limited electricity.  In Gaza people receive only a few hours of electricity a day. This makes it incredibly difficult for an adequate amount of the municipal water supply to be purified and safe for the community to drink.
Recognizing these challenges, we understand that there is a need in Gaza for water purifying solutions that rely on alternative energy sources to produce clean drinking water. Working in collaboration with UNRWA, we are implementing 9 solar-based desalination units in various UNRWA schools through our Provision of Drinking Water to 9 UNRWA Schools project. These units will purify and desalinate the municipal water supply by using solar energy so 15,000 children and staff in the schools have clean water to drink even when there is no electricity available. Through this project, we hope to alleviate some of the challenges the people in Gaza are facing.
These two endeavours are ones that will not only make a great change in the lives of the beneficiaries, but they are small steps in the direction of a more sustainable world. We are hoping to create a future where clean water is available and accessible to all.
By: Komal Ayub, HCI Programs Officer