Located in the center of the Gaza Strip, the Buraij refugee camp houses 32,000 people. The residents live in crowded shelters, 80 percent of which are covered with asbestos sheeting.
A part of the camp has no sewage system, leaving sewage to run in open drains and accumulate in the Wadi Gaza—the only wetlands in Gaza—to breed mosquitoes and contribute to the erosion of the ecosystem.
Formed by a diverse group of women in 2002, the Palestine Woman Development Organization is committed to advancing women's rights and improving women's economic, social, environmental and psychological conditions while living under military occupation.
The refugee camps depend upon humanitarian organizations such as the U.N. Refugee Works Agency, which fail to provide sufficient services. The group is using a Global Fund grant of $7,000 to enable women to raise awareness of environmentally destructive practices in the Buraij refugee camp.
The group strives to create a space where women's expertise can benefit women's lives and the community as a whole. Teaching community members to take care of their health and the environment is just one of the ways that the group is building an infrastructure of social service institutions for Palestinian women and their families.