by Naser Qadous
Terrace walls are almost as ubiquitous as the olive trees that grow behind them on the arid hills of the West Bank. The crumbling remains of terraces cut by Roman farmers dot the landscape.
In response to this crisis, ANERA is reaching refugees and impoverished host communities through a variety of job skills training courses that boost employability among the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Is there a sight more beautiful than lush fields of green?
But fields need water and in Palestine, water is both the dilemma and the solution. The scarcity of water in the West Bank, particularly, has inspired us at ANERA to think creatively. Why not make use of a non-traditional source of water that just recently became available in Palestine—recycled wastewater?
Gaza has long suffered from a severe electricity shortage, but this summer it has reached a breaking point. Now the residents of Gaza get only two to three hours of power per day, if they get any at all.
What does that mean?
The health benefits of sweet potatoes are well known around the globe. But the healthy and delicious snack has even more value for some families in Palestine because sweet potato farming in Gaza is especially profitable for local farmers.
The name Qalqiliya may have originated from the Roman name of the city ‘Calecaicea’ or ‘Calcelie,’ which is derived from the Kanaanite word for rounded stones or hills.
The city of Qalqiliya is the center of the governorate, yet is entirely surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, except for an Israeli-controlled passage to the east and a tunnel that connects it to the neighboring village of Habla.
The wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, is bursting with fresh produce from local farms. Some boast it’s the best produce in Gaza. Farmers like Abu Riyad smile with pride and satisfaction with all they have accomplished.
Under ANERA’s land restoration project to revive Gaza agriculture, Abu Riyad has been able to restore his land and again grow vegetables to feed his family and earn some extra income by selling to the market traders.
The summer’s heat can be tough, and dehydration and droughts are common in many Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
To stay alive, people, animals and the land need lots of water, but accessing that water in the West Bank is a lot harder than simply turning on the faucet. Like many other villagers in Khalet El Mai, Hajja Sabha and Ismail Barawee relied on rainwater and tankered water to survive. With no network, running water did not reach their homes.
That’s how Naser Qadous, ANERA’s agricultural projects manager, described Natheera Al-Asad’s joy upon witnessing the blue flames emerge from the portable gas burner for the first time. “Natheera was skeptical about the entire project up until that moment,” explains Naser. “The surprise on her face was indescribable.”
1995-present: Supporting Sustainable Projects
Irrigating Jericho during the Second Intifada
Water scarcity remains one of the greatest challenges to Palestinian agricultural development. With an increasing population, harsh climate change, urbanization and little to no control over their own water resources, Palestinian farmers are forced to either adapt their farming techniques to water scarcity or abandon farming altogether.
1985-1994: Pioneering Agricultural Development in Palestine
First step: reclaiming the land
Sabra Abu Naseer has been a farmer for 30 years. The 55-year-old divorced mother of three owns two dunums (half an acre) of land next to her house in Gaza. Sabra is well known in the neighborhood for sharing her fragrant tea and freshly baked bread with women who gather for her lively conversations. “I inherited this piece of land from my ancestors. I learned all about agriculture from my father and from working in flower gardens for nine years in Israel,” says Sabra. “Life on the land isn’t just a choice we make.
by ANERA President Bill Corcoran
With the buzz of drones overhead I was processed through Erez Crossing into Gaza. My baggage comprised two backpacks full of gifts from HQ staff for Gaza co-workers and water bottles for me. On the other side, the Hamas terminal had been obliterated by bombing, along with the luggage scanners and banks of computers for data processing. It was all replaced by a small trailer and some note takers with pad and pen. No bags were checked.
Read more on ANERA
By Ahmad Salameh, ANERA beneficiary
My name is Ahmad but I am better known by my nickname Hamoda. We lived in Al-Sawarha village, southeast of Jerusalem, parents and eight brothers and sisters.
When my colleague Naser Qadous from Ramallah called me with a training proposal last month, I didn’t know how to respond. He wanted me to organize seven hours of training for agriculture professionals to teach them how to write success stories about their approaches to farming and land reclamation. It was a big responsibility and, though I have been writing success stories for ANERA for more than four years, I had never taught someone else how to do it.
Gaza farmers are still recovering from the November bombings and air strikes that destroyed fields and demolished many greenhouses and other farm structures. Coupled with hardships caused by the blockade and a weak economy, Gazans struggle to afford fresh nutritious food for their families. A recent UN study says four out of ten Gazans are food insecure. Eight out of ten families must depend on food aid to survive.
Sobhieh Suleiman has finally moved back to her newly rebuilt home five years after fleeing the fighting that destroyed Nahr El Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. But something was missing for the 62-year-old, known by her friends as Om Maher. Thanks to ANERA’s rooftop garden project Om Maher has found it: a garden of vegetables, herbs and fruit trees, within easy reach on the rooftop of her building.
Walking through the narrow winding alleyways of Ein El Helweh Palestinian refugee camp, the first impression is of a concrete jungle. Electric wires criss-cross overhead and down the gray concrete walls, often leaving hardly any room for sunlight to penetrate into the camp, which is home to over 70,000 refugees.
Not very long ago, Latifa Jaber, a land owner from JinSafut, could barely provide for her four children. The land she had inherited from her deceased husband needed continuous care and, most importantly, water, which she couldn’t always afford.
“I used to get a small-sized tanker for 40 shekels ($11.50) to water the thyme, but I would usually finish all the water in just one day. Considering my monthly income of 200 to 300 shekels ($57 to $86), it’s quite burdensome.”
In the early morning, the spring sun warms the fertile fields of Gaza. It’s time for planting but first it’s time for cleaning. Wearing hats against the hot sun, workers spread out across the green fields to collect the plastic sheets covering last season’s strawberry plants. This planting season offers a glimmer of hope for farmers who were allowed to export a limited amount of strawberries, after inspection, to European markets.