Posted on 20 December 2018

Helping women-headed families in Gaza prepare for the summer

An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story

&nbspMiassar Zo’orb is a 48-year-old widowed mother who lives with four of her children in Khan Younis. She is the only breadwinner for her family, and her main income comes from humanitarian aid. Her home consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and a living room, and it is footsteps away from the local waste dump.

The Gaza Strip lacks enough houses that adequately meet residents’ needs. This is largely due to the dire economic situation and devastation in recurring rounds of hostilities. Last year, it was estimated that more than 24,000 homes in Gaza do not meet half or more of the core minimum shelter standards, negatively affecting people’s privacy and safety. Housing concerns are exacerbated in the summer season, as many shelters do not adequately protect inhabitants from the extreme weather.

Miassar Zo’orb with family members, in front of their home. Photo by Secours Islamique France

About 2,800 of these homes are headed by women, who are typically divorced or widowed. The humanitarian community has assessed that these families are among the most vulnerable groups in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Ahead of the 2018 summer season, Miassar’s house was identified as in need of urgent upgrading to enhance their ability to cope with the hot weather. With funding received through the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt HF), Secours Islamique France (SIF) installed a false ceiling for their home as well as adequate windows and doors to protect the family from the harsh summer heat,  and repaired their electricity network, among other services.

This help was part of a project that aimed at enhancing the access of vulnerable families headed by women to adequate housing conditions through basic upgrading services. Through this project, some 80 women-headed homes, housing more than 450 people in poor conditions, were prepared for the summer season, including by protecting them from extreme weather conditions and improving personal safety, privacy and hygiene at home.

“I can’t stand hot weather,” Miassar told SIF. “I usually sit in front of the main door to get some air.” Miassar mentioned that her home was subject to rodent and insect infestation, because it was missing windows and doors, and due to their proximity to the waste dump. “This is the best day in my whole life,” she said during the repairs. “Today, the workers put up the new ceiling. For the first time, my home has a roof.”

* This story was contributed by Secours Islamique France