Reducing risks for vulnerable people in the North Jordan Valley

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By Hanne Sorine Sorensen, IFRC

In order to reduce the risk of disasters in the North Jordan Valley in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the Palestine Red Crescent Society has implemented a number of disaster risk reduction initiatives targeting 5,000 people in the area.

The North Jordan Valley is located in the so-called Area C of the West Bank, where movement restriction, lack of access to land and resources, lack of planning and permits for construction of infrastructure represent huge challenges for residents, as their homes, fields and pastures are not under their own control.

An assessment carried out by the society shows that the population in this area is both marginalised and vulnerable, and so five communities in the North Jordan Valley were approached and offered assistance to them.

Ein Al Baida, a low lying village of 1,700 residents has for years experienced serious floods in the winter. But with the assistance of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, five kilometres of trenches have been dug to divert the water towards the Jordan River instead of flooding houses, fields or the mosque, as happened in 2013.

Mustafa Fuqaha, Chairman of the village council in Ein Al Baida, said the biggest challenge the village faced were floods. “We are very grateful that the Red Crescent has assisted us and built the trenches. The society helped us a lot. In 2014, we didn’t experience any flooding thanks to the trenches,” he said. More than 85 per cent of people in the village are dependent on agriculture and herding.

The 500 residents of the Kardala village asked the National Society to help them in rehabilitating the electrical infrastructure to make it more resilient. “Before, electricity cables were on the ground. Now they are above the ground and the electricity supply has become more stable as it is no longer affected by the rain,” said Basim Fugha, a member of the Kardala village council. “At the same time more soil has been made available for farming purposes.”

In addition to the rehabilitation of the electricity system, more street lamps have been set up in the village.

“We feel safer now when walking outside in the after-dark hours thanks to these street lamps,” Basim Fuqha said. There is hope that the project will expand to include the rehabilitation of electrical systems inside the village’s houses.

Not far from Kardala, is the village of Bardala which is home to 2,500 residents live and whose schools welcome Kardala students.

The Bardala village council asked for Red Crescent support in handling waste and in constructing covered bus shelters to protect passengers from wind, rain and snow in the winter and from the scorching sun in the summer.

“The stations are for children waiting for buses to take them home to Kardala after they have attended school here in Bardala,” said Muwafaq Sawafta, a member of the village council in Bardala.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society constructed a total of bus shelters in Bardala. In addition, it has distributed 17 big waste containers across the village.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society’s’ Disaster Reduction Project in North Jordan Valley will build community resilience and is supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies with a donation by the British government’s Department for International Development.