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Shortage of water affects food security for home gardening Palestinians at the West Bank

The Food Security and Livelihoods Project has provided 70-year-old Najla’a Abu Mershed equipment to start a home garden. Photo: Khalil Zaquot.

Since the start of June 2016, tens of thousands of Palestinians at the West Bank has been suffering the harsh effects of drastic cuts in the water supply. 

The cuts have been made by Israel’s Mekorot water company, who are controlling the water resources in the West-Bank. The most affected areas are the Salfit region and three villages east of Nablus. Similar water supply interruptions were initiated in the same areas in July last year.

According to agricultural engineer Azzam Shabib at Beita Women Development Society in Nablus, the agricultural activities in the West Bank in general, and in Nablus villages in particular, are significantly affected.

- As a result, the farmers have limited their farming activities in order to secure water for drinking and domestic use, says Shabib.

Cooperation secures rural family with seasonal vegetables

The Food Security and Livelihoods Project is part of Norwegian People’s Aid’s humanitarian response in Palestine. In partnership with local partner Beita Women Development Society we offer income-generating support to vulnerable communities in the Beita, Qusra, Yanoun and Aqraba villages south-east of Nablus. Agricultural activities like home gardens and egg laying chickens reduce vulnerability and ensure food production.

- Each morning, when I watch our home garden blossoming, it recharges me with life, says 70-year-old Najla’a Abu Mershed.

She used to plant their 25,000 sq. m. farm with her mother and sisters before it was confiscated by the Gittit Israeli settlement. Today Najla’a uses her solid experience in farming to help her family produce their own vegetables in Aqraba, a rural village near Nablus in the Northern West Bank.

Together with her 35-year-old daughter-in-law, Alia, who lives with Najla’a along with her unemployed husband and their seven children, Najla’a has succeeded in converting their unused land into a thriving home garden by combining traditional farming experience with new knowledge.

The Food Security and Livelihoods Project has provided her with seeds, a water pump, a water tank, nylon, an irrigation network and other components necessary to start a home garden. She has also received training in farm management techniques. 

For Najla’a and Alia, the home garden has become a gathering place for the whole family.

- It is not just a home garden to me, it is the social place where my sons and my grandsons meet, Najla’a explains.

Her home garden produces enough vegetables to cover the family needs. They save around 400 USD each growing season, which enables them to buy other goods they cannot produce.

The installation of water collection cisterns would be a solution to the shortage of water needed to run Najla’a’s home garden.

- If we were to get water collection cisterns, we would be able to produce vegetables all year, Najla’a concludes.

22.08.2016 | Khalil Zaquot