Water in Conflict: Perceived Water Quality and Waterborne Disease Prevalence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel Proper
Conditions in the West Bank and Gaza have been found to be detrimental to quality of life and health. One manifestation of the current political climates’ impact on population health in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is access to and quality of water. Sub-standard water treatment often leads to increased rates of communicable water-borne diseases, like hepatitis a (WHO, 2009). Maintaining proper health is difficult for those living in disadvantaged areas, like the OPT, and poor water quality may contribute to the problem. This study examined the relationship between residential location and perceived water quality, and the relationship between residential location and prevalence of waterborne disease rates. Data were gathered through an online Google Forms survey offered in English, Arabic and Hebrew, that asked participants living in Israel or the OPT to indicate their water access, perceived water quality and access to medical care. Our aim was to understand if perceived access and quality of water differ based on residential location in Israel and OPT, as well as if locale has an impact on self-reported waterborne illnesses. Among the 28 survey participants, 50% (n=14) lived in Israel Proper and 29% (n=9) lived in the OPT. Seventy-one percent of residents living in OPT reported bad water quality, compared to 8% of residents of Israel Proper. Those living in Israel Proper reported that their water is sufficient and of “OK” or “good” quality 92% of the time. Although this survey design and sample size are not sufficient to represent the larger populations of Israel Proper and OPT, our results suggest health disparities that warrant further research. As potable water becomes scarcer around the world, it is imperative that public health accounts for the changing environments that impact community health, hygiene and sanitary practices.
Faculty and Advisors:
Dr. Scott Bartell