06 Sep 2013 08:00
The Bedouins living in The West Bank are living hard and simple lives. It is a daily struggle to make ends meet. Living in tent camps and small desert towns, they try to create a life for their families.
In the desert outside Bethlehem, lies a little Bedouin village called Rashayida. Circa 250
Bedouin families from the same clan inhabit the village. If you go past the village and stay on the road it turns into nothing but a small path. That is where you meet the Bedouins that still inhabit the desert.
In the area around Rashayida, the Bedouins live a quiet, simple and hard life. It is a society that does not fit in anywhere else. Here life is centered around one thing: Survival.
The lack of water is one of the great challenges in the desert. They face serious issues like Climate change, the lack of infrastructure and the always-present conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Even though a Bedouin does not need a lot of water to survive, the issue is not just about
clean drinking water. They need water for their livestock, personal hygiene and cooking.
Just as it is important to have water for the few crops they grow.
The Bedouins are dependent on clean water, which they can get in the nearby village
and transport into the desert. A tank of water contains three cubic metres of water that
is 3000 litres. A Palestinian family on average spends 8 percent of its monthly expenses on buying water. A worldwide comparison shows an average of 3,5 percent. This number jumps upwards of 50 percent for those Palestinian families relying on tankered water like the Bedouins.
The Bedouins are some of the poorest people in the West Bank. Their primitive lifestyle means that they pay a lot of money for water. Still the quality they get is very poor, because the water in the tanks is stagnant.
Rainwater cisterns, that collect water, are scattered throughout the area. The Romans built them in ancient times, and when fixed they can be used for watering the animals. However, this option is not enough though, due to the lack of rain.
According to WHO, every human being should have access to around 100 liters of water daily. The average on The West Bank is 70 litres.
Israelis, Israeli settlers and Palestinians get mainly their water from two places: The Jordan River and the mountain aquifer that runs under Palestinian and Israeli land. Israel also gets water from the Sea of Galilee, which is the mouth of the Jordan River. Water has been rerouted away from the Jordan River since the sixties with devastating effect. An effort to change this has begun in 2013 even though some critics deem it not nearly enough to restore the levels of the river.
The Jordan River is off limits to Palestinians, because the Israeli military has deemed it military grounds. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria also taps water from the river. This massive use
has left the river all but dry. The Dead Sea has divided into two lakes, because of the low flow.
In the Oslo accords there is a section on water, which states that the water they share shall be further resolved when the Oslo accords are resumed. This has yet to happen.
Photos by Andreas Bro
Text by Andreas Bro