Bethlehem is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the ancient senasil, or stone-walled terraces.
Bethlehem Governorate | محافظة بيت لحم
The governorate of Bethlehem is located immediately south of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The area falls within the Eastern Aquifer. Most of the governorate (over 85 percent) is in Area C, and therefore largely unavailable for Palestinian development.
Over 200,000 people live in Bethlehem Governorate, which includes the city of Bethlehem, numerous villages and three refugee camps: Aida, Beit Jibrin (also called Azza), and Dheisheh.
Bethlehem receives millions of tourists every year, owing to the religious significance of the area. Two UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Bethlehem: the Church of the Nativity and Star Street Pilgrimage Route, and the ancient village of Battir, noted for its use of traditional stone terraces.
Over the decades, Anera has made many upgrades to municipal infrastructure in Bethlehem and supported the health and education of residents through our work with local partners.
From 2005 to 2019, Anera implemented a series of USAID-funded infrastructure programs, known as Emergency Water and Sanitation and Other Infrastructure I and II and the Palestinian Community Infrastructure Development. Through these projects and others, Anera improved and rehabilitated local infrastructure in vulnerable communities across Palestine.
Water and Sanitation in Bethlehem
With your support, Anera has been working to improve water, hygiene and sanitation systems in Bethlehem Governorate for decades. We installed, extended and rehabilitated the water networks in the villages of Ubeidiya, Beit Fajjar, Beit Ta'mir, Dar Salah, Hindaza, and Um Salamuna, and the town of Janata. Anera also constructed a water reservoir in Beit Fajjar.
Anera installed main and secondary sewage pipelines in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala. We built storm water drainage systems in the villages of Al Doha and Nahalin.
In Beit Sahour, Anera constructed an underground cistern at Shepherd's High School and renovated the sanitary facilities and installed new toilets and drinking fountains at The Greek Catholic Patriarchate School. In the city of Bethlehem, Anera renovated of the cistern at the Dar Al-Kalima School, and the sewage system and rainwater drainage system at De La Salle High School.
At the Saint Joseph's School, Anera repaired the underground cistern.
Education in Bethlehem
Anera has worked to enhance educational opportunities for children in Bethlehem for generations by upgrading schools, feeding hungry children and offering scholarships.
Anera has constructed new classrooms, renovated existing rooms, added new facilities such as computer labs and upgraded school infrastructure at Al-Tasamouh Government Elementary School in Beit Sahour, the Dar Salah Boys' School in the village of Dar Salah, and the Tuqu' Secondary School for Boys in the village of Tuqu'.
In the village of Jaba’a, Anera rehabilitated the secondary school and installed a new water network. We also initiated work to substantially expand the school, adding new classrooms and facilities to provide capacity so that students could complete their high school education in the village, reducing drop-out rates. The work is currently suspended due to the early termination of USAID funding.
Anera has also helped ensure disadvantaged children in the Bethlehem governorate are well nourished enough to focus on their studies through the distribution of food packages during the month of Ramadan. With funding from Zakat, Anera distributed food packages to the Beit Jala Preschool and the Bethlehem Preschool in 2014.
For 30 years, Anera offered scholarships to support quality education in vulnerable communities. Our scholarship program worked with schools for orphans or students with disabilities. Children at the schools received attention from special, caring teachers who helped them cope with life’s challenges. And they were given access to tools that revealed their abilities. In Bethlehem, Anera supported the Ephpheta Paul VI School, where blind children receive an expert education aimed at integrating them into West Bank society.
When Anera launched our flagship early childhood development program in 2010, Bethlehem and Nablus were the locations of the four schools that we renovated. We also initiated a teacher training program with eight teachers and two supervisors from two preschools in Bethlehem and 12 teachers from Nablus. The two-year diploma program provided preschool educators comprehensive classes on teaching methods for young children. Anera has since trained hundreds of teachers and renovated or built 10% of Palestine's preschools..
Agriculture in the Bethlehem Area
In 1987, Anera donors helped Palestinian cooperatives establish dairies, creating a market for dairy farmers, and promoted best practices in properly handling milk-based products. One of the dairies was in Bethlehem Governorate.
In the early years, Hamoda Dairy was located in the village of Sawarha and depended on Anera’s machines and equipment for milk production. The company continued to grow and in 1998 it moved into a new, larger facility.
The outbreak of the First Intifada led to a boycott of imports, which left a huge shortage of dairy products in the West Bank. The dairy cooperatives collected milk from local farmers, generating job opportunities for the farmers, who in turn contributed to producing locally a product that benefited hundreds of families.
Today, Hamoda employs more than 100 people in a 5,000-square-meter establishment that produces 120 products.
A New Produce Market for Bethlehem
In 2015-2016, Anera replaced the old market near the Nativity Church in the historical city center of Bethlehem. It was built in 1925 and had a host of infrastructure problems like a lack of shade, few public bathrooms, and poor water drainage. Anera rebuilt and added vendor stalls (the market can accommodate 250 vendors), erected shade canopies, built a garbage compactor room, created space for taxis, installed raisable bollards, and established sidewalks, street lighting and green areas. Revitalized, the market now provides a nice experience for vendors and tens of thousands of shoppers and tourists every year.
Improving Health Care in Bethlehem
Anera has upgraded the infrastructure and facilities of a number of medical clinics and hospitals in the Bethlehem governorate. We have also operated programs to improve health and nutrition in the region. And Anera regularly distributes medicines and medical supplies to local health clinics in Bethlehem, such as the Aknaf Beit Almaqdis clinic.
In 2017, Anera constructed a state-of-the-art health clinic in the isolated village of Walajeh, located in Area C near the city of Bethlehem. USAID funded Anera’s construction of the clinic. Before the clinic was built, the 2,500 residents were anxious that something as simple as a child’s cough might turn into something much worse. That’s because, in an emergency, the nearest clinic was five miles away in Beit Jala, and public transportation was irregular. A small mobile clinic was available for specified hours on certain days of the week, but it offered only limited health care. The new Walajeh Clinic has a welcoming, furnished waiting area, a mother and child care room, examination rooms, a pharmacy and a lab.
Anera also built the Beit Jala Clinic with examination rooms for general practitioners, a specialists’ room, a vaccination room, a laboratory, a pharmacy, a reception, and other facilities. In the village of Harmala, Anera rehabilitated and expanded the Harmalah Clinic.
Anera rehabilitated the Beit Jala Government Hospital in Bethlehem Governorate, including the lab, the endoscopy and X-ray departments, male and female surgery wards, the emergency and operations units, medical staff residents, hospital roof and the pharmacy.
In Bethlehem we rehabilitated and remodeled the Dr. Mohammad Sa`id Kamal Psychiatric Hospital and installed new internal sewage lines and new water and ventilation systems.
Through the Maram project, funded by IBM and USAID, Anera promoted improvements in women's and children's health, providing equipment and supplies and training for medical personnel. The program, which ran from 2001 to 2005, sought to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, promote the availability of modern contraception, and improve reproductive health generally in the villages of Beit Jala, Beit Fajjar and Za'tara.
In 2009-2010, Anera trained radiology technicians in Beit Jala through its Breast Cancer Awareness Project. This project was funded by ICF International on behalf of the US Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative.
Anera distributes millions of dollars worth of medical aid for chronic conditions, hospital equipment, wheelchairs, over-the-counter drugs, and health care supplies that would not otherwise be available in the communities where they are needed the most. Our deliveries support hospitals, clinics, schools, and community centers struggling to meet the needs of underprivileged families. The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, Aknaf Beit Al Maqdis Clinic, Shepherds' Field Hospital, Caritas Baby Hospital, and Holy Family Hospital are our valued partners in the Bethlehem Governorate.
Bethlehem Community Centers and Public Parks
In the last two decades, Anera has undertaken numerous projects to upgrade infrastructure in the Bethlehem governorate.
In 1984, Anera built a light industrial complex on the outskirts of Beit Jala to create space for small businesses to operate. It still stands today with 57 workshops that provide jobs for hundreds of craftsmen, car technicians and workers.
Anera rehabilitated and expanded the Saint Nicolas Home for the Elderly in Beit Jala. In the city of Bethlehem, Anera also rehabilitated the Bethlehem Old Market, an important center of commerce in the city. In the village of Dar Salah, Anera built the Al-Ghad Center for Women, providing a much-needed community space and hub for small women-run craft and catering businesses.
Anera built a modern and accessible public park for the village of Um Salamuna, a community of 1,100. Like many villages in the West Bank, it struggles with unemployment, poverty, and political marginalization.
Among the community's many needs was a park for families and children that would allow for quality playtime in a safe environment. Before Anera build the park most children spent their free time playing in the streets. With a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and olive trees, the new park contains a playground with fitness equipment, a large multipurpose room, a small amphitheater, handicap-accessible bathrooms and ramps, Braille signage, family seating areas, a canteen, and colorful murals with uplifting, positive messages.
Finally, this village has a community park
The new public park in Um Salamuna means children no longer need to play in the streets. Fitness equipment and a community center make it a valued public space for the whole village.