Bethlehem, the water problem and Ilyas’ story
In a land where drought is persistent for several months a year, most families —and particularly those in the poorest and most vulnerable communities— do not have enough drinking water. This is a problem that affects dramatically the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the whole of the West Bank.
In fact, in most part of the region, the occupying forces control the distribution of water and, in the villages and towns under the control of the Palestinian authorities, there is an obsolete system, with leaks affecting 40% of the distributed water.
Rami, a young father who lives in the historical centre of Bethlehem, tells us: “The water network is so bad that all the families in the neighbourhood have to get water delivered by tanker trucks. This way they have to pay a price that is nearly 10 times higher than the price originally requested by the council, and many cannot afford it.”
In order to control this problem, the Association pro Terra Sancta has launched a project called “Voglia di acqua” (“Wishing for Water”) in the area of Bethlehem, where many families do not have enough income to cover the expenses to maintain or replace the tanks. The objective is to improve the life conditions of many people by installing new tanks.
Some of these families have many members who live in very old flats that need constant maintenance. This is the case of Ilyas and his wife Amal, who live in the heart of Bethlehem and have 5 children. Ilyas takes care himself of maintaining the house, but their water tank, ruined by wear and tear, needs replacing. His wife works occasionally, while their children —two boys and three girls— live at home with their parents and are studying.
Installing new tanks, purchased thanks to the project, will allow the families to sort the problem of water leaks and water pollution, allowing them not to be forced to buy water from the tanker truck at such exorbitant prices.
With €300 it is possible to install a tank with a capacity of thousands of litres for one family. However, any contribution, no matter how small, is a sign of hope and a very real help for many people.