During a workshop organized by PNGO, population growth in Gaza hardens the situation amidst shortage of resources


Several experts and representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector in the Gaza Strip, warned of the rapid population growth in Gaza, amidst shortage of resources, continued Israel-imposed siege and the internal Palestinian political split that have all remained in place for more than 15 years, now.

The experts, who convened during a workshop, organized by the Palestinian Non-governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), discussed a study, presented by local Palestinian researcher and engineer, Mamoun Besaiso. Besaiso's paper work is titled "The relation between population growth in the Gaza Strip and the challenges of different sectors and possible solutions", in partnership with the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

The workshop was held at the Light House hall on Gaza's seafront, where tens of participants had agreed on the significance of concentrating all possible efforts by all civil society organizations, in order to come up with the best solutions for various community-based problems.

Speaking to participants, Besaiso pointed out many social and economic problems that are closely connected with overpopulation, suggesting some possible solutions and recommendations.

During his talk, he highlighted what he described high-value sectors, such as the agricultural, industrial, information technology, vocational training, economic empowerment, youth and women.

From his part, Mr. Amjad Shawa, PNGO Director in Gaza, in an opening speech, he made clear that Gaza Strip is still going through some very hard conditions, especially amidst continued Israel-imposed blockade and frequent Israeli occupation attacks against various sectors including economic and environmental infrastructure.

Shawa believed that despite the fact of such an economic deterioration, reconstruction of the war-torn coastal territory is yet to take place.

"Gaza Strip is the most densely-populated part of the world, with 5936 residents live in 2 square kilometers. This means that Gaza will likely go through a devastating crisis, especially amidst shortage of resources and basic services", Shawa further noted.

He also mentioned that rates of both poverty and unemployment have been on the rise, while 80 percent of the population are in need of assistance and 64 percent of the same population endure food insecurity.

In light of these figures, Shawa stressed on the point that finding out sustainable solutions has become an imperative, calling for facing mounting challenges in the tiny coastal enclave.

Addressing participants, Mr. Usama Antar, program manager within Friedrich Ebert institution, said that the partnership with PNGO for this year is aimed at brainstorming and then coming up with a number of visions for a better future of the Gaza Strip.

Antar emphasized on the point that overpopulation in Gaza will possibly lead to a real crisis, as seen and understood by some countries, unless Gaza's available resources are well-directed.

Speaking of his study, Besaiso believed that the current overpopulation in Gaza has further risen amidst shortage of various resources, the continued Israel-imposed blockade and the existing internal Palestinian political split. He also made clear that the Israeli occupation has been gripping control over all sectors in Gaza, to the extent that United Nations had declared that Gaza Strip could turn into an unlivable place by the year 2020.

Besaiso added that amidst the overpopulation problem, demand for housing units has increased, especially after thousands of existing housing units have been already destroyed during frequent Israeli occupation attacks on Gaza.

According to Besaiso, mounting rates of poverty and fragile economy in the region contributed also to the increased demand for proper housing. Yet, he noted, that bad economic conditions made purchase power of Gaza's residents quite low, as people cannot afford construction materials, whose prices have got much higher, due to the Israeli siege and shortage of raw building materials.

The researcher believed that this situation has caused majority of investors to refrain from embarking on investment vital projects in the coastal region, for fear of high risks.

He was quoted as saying "For five years now, Gaza Strip remains below the zero degree area, especially after last May's Israeli occupation attack on the territory. Unemployment rate among the labor force stands at almost %47, with about 230,000 individuals are rendered jobless"

A part of his insight that he shared with participants, Besaiso asserted on what he believed to be the need for building more schools that could meet mounting overpopulation rates and help reduce afternoon shifts at existing schools. For this purpose, the engineer researcher called for allocation of some suitable areas of land, along with funding for the construction of new schools.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Gaza, despite the fact that new schools are constructed per year, still the overpopulation widens the gap and thus forcing the Ministry to increase afternoon shifts at schools.

He maintained that in spite of the increasing number of secondary school children and therefore, increased numbers of future university students, it has been noted that the demand for higher education has obviously decreased, because many households in Gaza cannot afford such an education or dues to widespread conviction among the community that joining universities cannot help youth get decent jobs, following graduation. Off course, this is because of the fact that unemployment rate in Gaza among university graduates stands now at %74, Besaiso believed.

He also pointed out that the continued shortage of power supply in the territory is still constituting a problem, as the residents of Gaza only get 8 hours of power supply per day.

"The power supply crisis is not technical but rather political, especially following the internal political split that erupted back in 2007. Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars have been already spent on buying fuel to generate electricity, the crisis has not been solved. Instead of spending those funds, there could have been a possibility to establish a new power plant. All Qatari funds that have been spent during the last decade, could have helped construct a new plant", expert Besaiso explained.

On the telecommunication and information technology sectors, Besaiso highlighted "Such sectors have been having difficulties getting access to various equipment and networks, due to the Israel-imposed siege. Let me please indicate here that telecommunications in Gaza are still operating by the 2G systems, which are considered outdated. While, in fact, Israeli occupation has allowed the telecommunication sector in the West Bank to use 4G-operated systems. On the Israeli side, Israeli telecommunication sector uses 5G-operated systems"

In terms of social protection sector, Besaiso revealed that the Palestinian ministry of social development, in cooperation with key donors, has been supervising a series of intervention programs for fighting poverty and helping most impoverished communities in Gaza. However, he said that such programs have not yet helped lower poverty rate or improve economic conditions of those impoverished communities.


Subscribe to the mailing list