Extending and maintaining renewable energies in the West Bank is the aim of a project supported by the Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the aid organization Medico International and the Israeli organization Comet‑ME.
Electricity – nothing unusual for us in Germany. We do it without thinking: we turn on the light in the mornings or get a cold drink from the fridge. For the rural population in the West Bank, it is not so simple.
The villages in the South Hebron Hills are in so‑called Area C which makes up some 62% of the West Bank. Area C falls under direct Israeli civil and security control. Most of the rural population have been living in tents and caves for generations and many inhabitants live in difficult conditions.
Building permits are required to build houses, facilities for children or health services – but these are rarely issued to Palestinians. Life is thus very hard. This makes the changes brought about by the installation of local solar and wind power systems even more impressive. Working hand in hand, this project is being implemented by the Israeli organization Comet‑ME and the Palestinian population.
Better quality of life
The building of these power systems has a decisive influence on the living conditions in the villages. Those living in Tuba are ecstatic about their solar power system. Particularly for women, the availability of electricity has meant a lot of improvements. Clothes are washed in the washing machine so it not longer has to be done by hand. And those who have swung milk in a tied-up goat’s stomach for hours know the benefits of an electric mixer. With the time they save, the people can have a break and listen to the radio or watch television. But that is not all. Palestinians who had left the area are now returning from the towns back to the countryside because life has got so much easier with the new power plants. The young people express their joy and gratitude on this new quality of life with new allegiances: “The young people in the village of Tuba have turned their backs on FC Barcelona and have now en masse converted to the German football club Schalke 04”, as a representative of the Federal Foreign Office on the ground reported.
Sustainability of the project
The Federal Foreign Office has been helping Medico International improve the quality of life in these areas and has made available 1 million euros since November 2008. Eight wind power systems and 217 solar panels are now in operation in the rural areas of Hebron. But building alternative energy systems is not the end of the story. Together with the locals, the Israeli engineers are working on maintaining the wind power systems and solar panels. They are also providing expert training. With a view to further increasing the level of involvement of the rural population in the West Bank, the responsibility for the solar systems lies with the respective village community and ownership rights are also passed to them.