With a population of over 600,000, the Hebron Governorate is the largest in Palestine.
In the bustling capital city of Hebron, an ancient Old City reveals winding stone pathways and a souk that survives to this day. Hebron also holds significance in Judaisim, Christianity, and Islam as the burial place for Abraham and his family.
Agriculture is key for many residents of the area, where rolling hills are dotted with olive and fig groves. As far back as the 1980s, Anera donated tractors and other heavy machinery to help farming cooperatives reclaim their land for crop production. Today, Hebron and its environs serve as an important Palestinian trade hub best known for grapes, pottery, and glassblowing.
However, many villages in southern Hebron are secluded, remote and cut off from modern amenities. The area’s Bedouin communities often face the worst conditions and lack basic necessities like clean water. Anera’s main goals in southern Hebron are to resolve water and sanitation issues, support quality health care and develop the education sector.
Clean Water for Hot, Dry Hebron
Southern Hebron has hot, dry weather, causing frequent water shortages that affect entire communities. Residents often are forced to buy water from tanker trucks in areas where water networks are either inefficient, unreliable, or non-existent. Lack of water also means that many families struggle to raise livestock and, in an area where many make a living on animal husbandry, this can have a devastating effect on the economy.
Al-Ramadin didn’t have a water network – a problem compounded by physical barriers like the separation wall. The wall boxes in the village’s 4,000 residents on three sides, and movement out of the remaining side is controlled by the Israeli military. The lack of a water network meant that villagers struggled to raise livestock and make a living. In 2006, Anera constructed and renovated water cisterns and tanks, which now provide clean water in households and farms and protect a continued source of income.
Similarly, the village of Yatta had long been denied access to running water. In 2008, Anera installed an entire water network and extended it to serve Yatta's newest neighborhoods. In 2016, five rural villages in the Yatta area (Khallet Al Mayyeh, Um Lasafa, Al Deirat, Wadi Elma, and Um Elshoukhan) were connected to an existing reservoir through a new water network. For many families this is the first time they have had clean running water in their homes.
Also this year, Anera installed nearly two miles of water networks and built a water tank with a booster pump in Imneizil, one of the poorest villages in the West Bank. This project made a big difference in the lives of the 450 people living in this semi-arid area, located right at the southern border of the West Bank in Area C. Similar projects have taken place in Dura, Ad Dahiriyah, Beit 'Awwa and Al Burj.
With few sewage networks in Hebron, residents rely on cesspits for wastewater disposal. Cesspits tend to leak and infiltrate nearby cisterns, and are a major source of pollution and contamination to clean collected water. To combat this problem, Anera enhanced a wastewater treatment plant in the village of Kharas, installing durable pipes that widened the reach of the sewage network to more homes.
In the village of Ad Dahiriyah, discharge from Hebron’s sewage network used to run openly through the town and surrounding neighborhoods. School children had to hop across these dirty streams of sewage on their way to school, and illness and pollution spread. Now there are three culverts in the area, constructed by Anera. The culverts here and in Anab Al Kabir also prevent street flooding in the rainy winter season.
Expanding Access to Health Care
In the past, the 15,000 residents of Beit Awwa had only one medical clinic – it was old, run-down, and limited to only mother and child care. It also fell short of the minimum standards required by the Ministry of Health. In 2012, Anera replaced the old medical clinic with a new, fully-equipped clinic, large enough to serve all members of the community. The new clinic has two general practitioner rooms, a pharmacy, laboratory, family-planning clinic, and mother and child care center.
The water crisis also affected clinics and hospitals. In Ad Dahiriyah, Yatta, Ar Rihiya, Beit 'Awwa, Beit Mirsim, As Simiya and Al Buweib, Anera rehabilitated water cisterns and installed water tanks, pumps, filters and heaters, as well as window fixtures and toilet facilities. Now proper health care and good hygiene are possible thanks to clean water and sanitation facilities.
Anera’s medical and relief program has also benefited the residents of southern Hebron by providing donated medication and supplies to local charitable partners.
Hebron School Upgrades Enhance Education
The village of Ar Rihiya suffers from a high rate of unemployment (60%) and health complications among children due to malnutrition and contaminated water. Schools, such as Ar Rihiya Secondary Girls' School, suffered greatly from the water shortage.
To alleviate this problem, Anera renovated the water and sanitation facilities of the Ar Rihiya school in 2009. Further work included the renovation of an existing drinking fountain and the installation of a new one, and school facilities like the kitchen and toilets were repainted and freshened up. The school, which houses 400 students and 30 teachers, serves a sizable portion of the village’s residents.
The following year, Anera added classrooms and renovated water and sanitation facilities in a coed school in neighboring 'Anab Al Kabir. The school experienced a high drop-out rate, in part because students had to travel to another town to attend high school. The added classrooms enable students to continue on to high school in the same location, removing one barrier to education.
Anera is currently in the process of adding an additional floor in Hatta’s co-ed elementary school so it can accommodate more students. As with 'Anab Al Kabir, the school has a high dropout rate – especially among girls. In addition, handicap-accessible toilets will be added and the playground will be rehabilitated.
Through its early childhood development (ECD), Anera has renovated, furnished and equipped seven preschools in southern Hebron and trained scores of teachers in child development and child-centered education through an intensive training program.
Al Ramadin Preschool: Before and After
Preschool renovations create bright, open learning spaces for children and include child-friendly toilet facilities and shaded outdoor playgrounds. Classrooms are filled with locally-made, Anera-designed furniture, educational indoor and outdoor games and toys, as well as books. ECD's Hayya Naqra, or "Let's Read", initiative has engaged hundreds of children and parents in Al Burj, Al Ramadin, Beit 'Awwa, Idhna, Al Fawwar, Beit Mirsim, and 'Anab Al Kabir. Children receive reading bags filled with with books, coloring books, colored pencils, and a handy pamphlet for parents on the importance of reading to their children.
Nearby in Al Majd, Anera built and fully equipped a brand new preschool to reach the under-served children in the village. The brand new building is a testament to Anera's commitment to reaching the most vulnerable.