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.
With many illegal Israeli settlements surrounding the city and encroaching on nearby farmlands and small villages, the governorate has suffered various hardships, including huge land and water confiscations through the years. As agriculture is considered the backbone of this rich rural area, many farmers are forced to leave to other districts in search for work.
Fortunately, ANERA has been able to contribute to the economic development of the area by addressing some pressings needs:
- More cultivated land with higher productivity and quality of produce.
- New water connections and sewage networks.
- New educational classrooms, rehabilitation work, and bigger schools with more facilities and services.
- Public facilities that serve and empower the most marginalized and neglected groups, namely women and children.
ANERA has completed projects or has ongoing sustainable development work in all 24 of these towns.
Boosting Agriculture in Qalqiliya District
During the 1980s and early 1990s, ANERA invested in the agricultural development of the district of Qalqiliya, among many others across the West Bank. With eight brand-new, modern tractors and 38 other pieces of agricultural machinery divided between the Qalqiliya Agricultural Market Cooperative and another farming cooperative in the village of ‘Azzun, hundreds of small-scale farmers were able to utilize their family lands efficiently and easily. Moreover, 265 member farmers were able to rent the machinery at lower prices, encouraging them to reclaim their lands and enhance their production.
Land owners and sharecroppers were not the only beneficiaries, as the project ultimately opened up job opportunities for tractor drivers, workers, agricultural engineers and many others.
A farmer works in a Qalqiliya greenhouse provided under ANERA’s agriculture program.
During that same period, ANERA assisted the Qalqiliya Agricultural Marketing Cooperative with a $30,000 grant for establishing a new electronic scale with a capacity of four tons for weighing trucks. The weighed trucks used to load fruits and vegetables between Amman and the West Bank markets. This project helped strengthen the efficiency and marketing scope for involved farmers.
ANERA’s microfinance credit program complemented its agricultural work in the region by reaching out to even more small entrepreneur farmers or those who wished to reclaim their own small-scale lands. This was implemented through main farming cooperatives across five districts.
The Jinsafut thyme project helped farmers increase productivity at lower costs.
Only a few years back, around 30 farmers in Jinasfut received local thyme seedlings, an efficient irrigation system and a new cistern for rainwater harvesting, as supplementary irrigation. Through this project, ANERA attempted to increase the productivity of the farmers at lower costs and ultimately help them earn a better income.
Improving Water Access
In 2004, ANERA installed a total of 3,300 linear meters of pipelines in Ras at Tira and adjacent Ad Dab’a, providing a reliable and clean source of drinking water to the residents of these villages at affordable costs. Before the intervention, the villagers relied on tankered water that was expensive and prone to contamination.
“Before ANERA’s help,” says beneficiary Afaf from Ad Dab’a. “We used to buy water in tins, which was extremely costly, or draw water in buckets from neighbors who were lucky to have cisterns. But now, we finally have water taps for washing and drinking and we have even built a new toilet and shower. We also have a washing machine!”
In more recent years, ANERA delivered different water projects in Palestine at seven different locations in the district of Qalqiliya, connecting more households to running water and enhancing the efficiency of sewage collection systems.
A new reservoir constructed in Jinsafut stores water for the community.
New water networks and extended water networks were installed, and four elevated reservoirs were constructed in ‘Isla, Khirbet Sir, Jit, Kafr Thulth, Jinsafut, Baqat al Hatab, Hajja and Falamya. Work included the installation of new booster pumps, chlorination units, pipelines and one balance tank.
These projects either successfully replaced inefficient and dilapidated networks that contributed to significantly high levels of water loss and contamination, or connected entire villages or certain areas that had no network to begin with. Most inhabitants of these villages depended on expensive purchased water to cover their families’ needs.
In addition, ANERA built a rainwater drainage system in ‘Azzun, and built rainwater collection cisterns, serving 15 impoverished households in Immatin.
In the village of Habla that has a population of 7,000 people, ANERA intervened in two ways. Its first intervention included the addition of 3,770 linear meters of pipes to an existing water network, thus serving a bigger population and newly inhabited areas. Its second intervention was completed only recently, installing a secondary sewage collection network and house connections, in addition to laying 4,000 linear meters of sewer pipelines in areas that were not connected to the existing network. The project has served an additional 400 households.
Education for Qalqiliya Youth
Since 2003, and over a period of 13 years, ANERA has been investing in the development of the Palestine education sector in the district of Qalqiliya by adding new classrooms, rehabilitating existing buildings and training preschool teachers.
In total, ANERA added 24 classrooms, four multipurpose halls, two newly-constructed toilet facilities and a school canteen, in addition to connecting staircases and corridors, drinking fountains, retaining walls, sunshades, playground benches and storage spaces.
Iman in the new computer lab at Kufr Thulth.
The projects were delivered in 11 different schools in the villages of Sinniriya, Izbat al Ashqar/Al Mudawwar, Izbat Salman, An Nabi Elyas, ‘Azzun, Ar Ras, Kafr Thulth, Beit Amin and Habla.
In recognition of the Kafr Thulth Secondary Girls School’s achievements, ANERA furnished the newly-constructed computer lab with 17 state-of-the-art personal computers to the school, including two printers, an LCD projector with its own white screen, networking equipment, infrastructure and cabling, and a two-year ADSL Internet subscription.
“This has surpassed our expectations. We were simply neglected and now we have all the essentials we need.” said the headmistress Ayda Mwafi.
Under its Early Childhood Development (ECD) program, ANERA was able to rehabilitate and furnish two dilapidated preschools in Kafr Qaddoum and Far’ata. The project included, infrastructure work, new toilet facilities and fixtures, as well as child-friendly furnishings, carpeting and curtains. The preschools’ playgrounds were also renovated and brand new toys added.
Under ANERA’s early childhood development program, this preschool in ‘Izbat al Ashqar/Al Mudawwar was completely rehabilitated.
Reading and play corners were also established, and a large collection of educational toys and books filled the empty shelves. Preschoolers were also provided with ANERA’s Hayya Naqra’ (Let’s Read!) readings bags that included reading and coloring books and a leaflet addressing the children’s parents, in an attempt to engage the parents in their children’s development, and establish good reading habits among the young children.
The program also trained four preschool teachers from the same preschools, including two teachers from Ad Dab’a on active learning and fundamentals of early childhood care and education, including child development, child rights, learning theories, safety, classroom organization, expressive arts, play and much more.
Community Empowerment in Qalqiliya
2004 was an exciting year for the women and youth of rural Qalqiliya, as ANERA delivered three much-needed public projects to benefit the development of different communities.
The first and only community center in Jayyous built by ANERA empowers over 400 youth and women alike. The two-floor building comprises a sports club with sport activity halls, and houses the Women Saving and Credit Association for micro-financing, in addition to a surrounding garden that also serves center’s mission.
A Palestinian teenager plays table tennis at the new community center in Jayyus in 2009.
“Financial independence helps women break free from subordination. And, it encourages them to exercise their rights and become decision makers,” says Nahed Jaber, who has been involved with the Women Saving and Credit Association for five years, first as a participant and now as the society’s treasurer.
In ‘Azzun, an additional floor was dedicated to empowering the women of the village. The added floor also houses the Women Saving and Credit Association, promoting self-development and independence among women in rural areas. The floor is also utilized as a training space for all the women of the village, where they gather to attain new knowledge and participate in various activities.
A new 0.65 km road was also built to connect the villages of Ras ‘Atiya and Habla, away from the main road for an easier commute, and facilitate access to agricultural land. Other villages like ‘Azzun and Kafr Thulth also received new roads that serve their entire communities.