In the northern Jordan Valley, lies the Palestinian village of Bardalah. Members of this small community, of about 2,200 people, own some very rich farmland and almost all families there grow fruits and vegetables.
However, the Oslo Accords have left the village in Area C, where Israel retains direct control. This affects the water supply to the village, which is limited, so that residents can only farm some of the lands that they own.
Qusai Sawafta is one of the young farmers of Bardalah. “Without water,” he says in frustration, “I can only grow rain-fed crops. If there’s not enough rain, we are at risk.”
In September 2020, with support from the occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund (oPt HF), Oxfam and Palestinian organizations secured access to water for about 20 farmers in Bardalah. They were given a two-kilometre water carrier line that can reach previously neglected lands. Thanks to this help, they can now grow new types of profitable crops on their plots.
Qusai and his family were among those who benefitted from this project. “I was thrilled to hear about the new water carrier line,” he stated enthusiastically. “Now, I can grow watermelon and corn. I take care of the crops myself, since it doesn’t require much work, and now I have more income for my family.”
“Settlers can simply come to someone’s land, start cultivating it, and eventually seize it for good,” Qusai further explained. “If we go to court, they would claim that the owners have left their land and are not around anymore. This new water line helps us protect our land and prevent settlers from expanding towards our village. We are here, we will invest in our land and they will never take it from us.”
Qusai concluded: “We are very happy that we can now invest in our land.”