In 2016, the students enrolled in the P track chose between one of two Practicum project sites: the nearby town of Somerville and the far-away Aida Camp in the West Bank, Palestine.
Descriptions of the projects are below.
Palestine Practicum: Aida Camp in the West Bank Expanding the Activities of the Aida Camp Environment Unit in the West Bank
The Lajee Center and 1for3, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, invited graduate students from the WSSS program at Tufts University – to help assess water quality in al Azza refugee camp in March 2016. Previous groups of WSSS students helped 1for3 and the Lajee Center establish a water quality monitoring program in nearby Aida refugee camp between 2012-2014. This program served as the model for our work in al Azza camp. The Lajee Center and 1for3 plan to expand the program to other West Bank refugee camps in the future.
Al Azza camp, like most communities in the West Bank and Gaza, faces regular water shortages due in part to underinvestment in the water sector, deteriorating water infrastructure, and inequitable distribution of water resources between Israel and Palestine. The assessment consisted of administering a household survey and testing water samples collected from homes in al Azza camp for E. coli and total coliform bacteria, two common measures of sewage contamination. One of the objectives of the assessment was to obtain data on water quality, availability, and use as well as on potential health issues associated with poor water quality. Another objective was to help the Lajee Center develop a plan for expanding the activities of its Environment Unit, which currently oversees the water quality monitoring program at Aida camp, to other refugee camps and villages in the West Bank. This expansion would begin with the water quality monitoring program and eventually extend to the Unit’s other environmental health and education initiatives based on each community’s individual needs. The Environment Unit’s director and team of student-volunteers have actively engaged the residents of Aida camp in its work there and would seek to engage residents in other camps and villages through their local community centers.