“It was extremely challenging getting to the University, sometimes impossible,” reminisces Ms. Randa Khader, a 24-year-old student at Al-Quds Open University in Tubas.
She frowns, adding, “Cars driving by would splash dirty water on us, and sometimes we would slip and get completely soaked and miss classes.” The busy main entrance road to Tubas, where the University building is located, used to flood with rainwater every winter.
According to Mr. Nidal Abd Al-Ghafoor, the university’s headmaster, “The water used to rise as high as 30 centimeters.” He explains that this was because Tubas is located in a valley and water from surrounding areas would collect there. “Since we didn’t have a drainage system, the water would remain for days or even weeks.”
The flooding also cost many businesses situated along the road major losses in customers and sales. For example, Al-Zaituna Pharmacy got very few customers during the winter because the flooding discouraged them from entering. Mr. Aiman Daraghmeh, the pharmacy’s manager, remembers how the rising water would flood into the pharmacy every winter. “I had to hire extra help to regularly clean the floors of mud and water.”
Tubas has witnessed a major transformation this winter. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ANERA has laid nearly a mile of pre-cast concrete pipes and installed essential culverts to build a complete rainwater drainage system along the road.
Mr. Ghafoor described the improvements: “The road has never been this safe before. There weren’t any collisions this winter due to flooding because there was virtually not a drop of water remaining on the road.” Smiling, he added, “Absenteeism and tardiness among the students has gone down.”
The main road in Tubas is now safely being used by 70,000 Palestinians who live in the area. The installation of a rainwater drainage system is a relatively small feat in itself, but everybody in Tubas, from the youngest children to the oldest, has felt its impact. From improving safety to enhancing economic activity on the road, this simple drainage system has had an immeasurably positive effect on the surrounding area.