Utilizing Wastewater to Address Water Shortages in the Palestinian Territories

Oct 8, 2012

Nablus, West Bank (October 8, 2012) — Two communities in the West Bank are beginning to use wastewater to address shortages that are severely limiting the amount of water available to irrigate agricultural crops.

Through the innovative Near East Foundation pilot project – among the first of its kind in the area – olive farmers are leading an experiment to fulfill their water needs with wastewater, an untapped resource in the region.

Farmers in the village of Beit Reema are already utilizing wastewater from the municipal water treatment plant in Ramallah, a facility recently constructed with international development funding. Another water treatment facility in the northern West Bank city of Nablus is scheduled to begin operation in March 2013.

Across the region, people are exploring creative solutions – such as utilizing wastewater – to address water shortages resulting from drier conditions, decreased precipitation and rising temperatures. The water shortages threaten agricultural production, one of the main sources of income in the region.

Wastewater reuse is a relatively new concept in the Palestinian Territories. The NEF initiative – and the fact that farmers are accepting the practice – represent a major breakthrough not only in the technology of food production but also in changing attitudes.

“This is really a win-win situation,” said Salah Abu-Eisheh, Near East Foundation Country Director in the Palestinian Territories. “The farmers are struggling to find – and pay for – water for their crops, while it will be a source of income for water treatment facilities.”

Farmers will learn techniques for using wastewater at NEF-operated “field schools,” where they will receive additional training to share with other farmers upon returning to their villages.

In the coming months, NEF will organize joint cross-border training activities with field visits to Israeli water treatment facilities and to Israeli farms where Palestinians can observe wastewater reuse.

The wastewater initiative complements NEF’s ongoing work with Palestinian farmers, which has helped them increase productivity by 280% and profits by 180% through a combination of activities including low-dosage irrigation, targeted fertilization and pest control.

The Palestinian Center for Agriculture and Research Development, an organization that NEF helped found, is the lead local partner in the initiative that is helping farmers address the emerging water crisis with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

For more information, visit the Olive Oil Without Borders project website.

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The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa for almost 100 years. Founded in 1915, NEF helps build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to implement grassroots solutions and to empower citizens through “knowledge, voice, and enterprise.” To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

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This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through theUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Near East Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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