From a tent to a home in Gaza

A man works on the construction of a mosque for a UNDP housing project in Rafah and Beit Lahia in Gaza. Photo: UNDP PAPP

Taghreed Abu Al Amarin is a 42-year-old housewife and a mother of nine children. Currently a resident of Beit Lahia, Taghreed has been her family’s sole provider since she lost her husband in 2013. “We were already suffering before my husband’s injury in a 2006 Israeli attack. We barely managed with our low salaries and limited income”.

Taghreed’s family has spent the recent years moving from one unstable housing situation to another. They used to live in a rented house that was government property, but couldn’t stay, moving to an asbestos house near the buffer zone in Beit Lahia. During an Israeli invasion, the house was demolished, and they were forced to rent an apartment. Due to the harsh living conditions, Taghreed and her family were unable to sustain the rent, and their only option was to live in a tent, which they did for six years.


  • The project is part of a US$25 million housing programme in Rafah and Beit Lahia, targeting 350 families.
  • Around 130,000 workdays were generated so far, 50,000 in Beit Lahia.
  • 302 units in 129 building were built in the first stage. The second stage of 100 units in thirteen buildings is halfway completed.
  • In addition to houses, the projects constructed schools, mosques, roads, and electricity, water, sewage and communication networks.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has suffered from a blockade and has witnessed three military operations, causing acute shortage of public and social services. Gaza is facing a housing shortage of over 105,000 units, as a result of a rapidly growing and young population, import restrictions on construction materials, and significant damage and destruction during the offensives. Some are still coping with their displacement or house repairs. This has left the population living in harsh conditions.

With a financial contribution from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Campaign for the Relief of the Palestinian People, UNDP is constructing one hundred housing units to alleviate the suffering of families whose homes were demolished in Rafah and Beit Lahia during the 2001 and 2009 Israeli operations.

The housing units in Al Malek Abdullah neighbourhood in Rafah and Al Ameer Nayef Bin Abdel Aziz neighbourhood in Beit Lahia will accommodate one hundred Palestinian families. The units were built with the highest standards, taking into consideration family size, basic needs and weather conditions.


The thirteen buildings contain 104 units structured to accommodate large families, with an area of 145m2. Standard elements include a basement for each building with a 300m2 area, solar heating system for hot water and electricity and water supplies. To help combat harsh weather conditions, double external walls were installed, in addition to roofing works for the final slab.

The housing project also includes the construction of a school, a mosque, roads, and electricity, water, sewage and communication networks. In addition, the project has created an opportunity for temporary livelihoods for local residents. So far, 21,000 work days have been generated for engineers, foremen, surveyors, frame workers, plumbers, plasterers, mason and frame workers and unskilled workers.

Taghreed is one of the families who benefited from the project. “We lived in a tent for six years with no basic amenities,” says Nour, Taghreed’s 21-year-old daughter. “I was ashamed of where we lived. Some students at school mocked me and I had no friends there. My brother and I suffered in summer and winter. Those days were painful,” she added.

Started in 2011, the project is halfway through completion. Now Taghreed and her family, just like many others, are living in a 145 m2 apartment with three rooms, a kitchen, bathroom and living room.

“We were homeless. Literally,” Taghreed says. “My children had no place to write their homework or play. Now we have a home; what a word. A home where we can at least sleep well and people can visit us. We had no social life before.”

The 100-unit project is part of a larger US$25 million initiative to improve housing conditions in Gaza.  A 300-unit project that began in 2005 built 129 buildings with 302 units, two secondary schools, a mosque, a water well, a sewage pumping station, and other infrastructure. It also generated 130,000 workdays for local residents.

“From a tent into a home.” This is how Taghreed summarized her story. “I hope no one goes through what we suffered, although I know many are already. Such projects are much needed in Gaza and the feeling of having a home is priceless.”

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