It has been a very busy week with multiple tours and site visits, after which I get home (home can be Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or other locations) exhausted from traveling and the summer heat of arid areas. However, the more field work I conduct, the more I learn and gain from this internship. I love being outside in 35 to 40 celsius, but never too happy in the AC cooled office, luckily things are going in the first direction for me.
The first field visit this week was not directly related to my project, yet I am pleased I joined it. We drove early morning from Ketura to a rural-agricultural community, who relies on dates exportation. Water-Energy was the main issue identified from the long meeting with the community leaders, and the AIES team. Although it is at the very first steps, it looks like an exciting project that will look at options of improving energy and water supply for agriculture.
The next tours were strictly related to my project in the Bedouin village of Umm Batin. Overall, the success of my work depends on the number of houses I will have time to document. And this depends on the relations I am developing with some of the residents – a task that is not always easy since ethnic and cultural differences are sometimes obstacles to social cooperation in Israel. However, this week has been constructive and hopefully, my work in the village appealed to some of the Bedouins I met.
These photos might explain better the type of community I am working at. Left photo, is a sewage stream originated in Hebron and flows all the way to Gaza. Umm Batin is somewhere in the middle and at the very entrance you cross over this smelly site. The state has not done anything since the village was recognize 10 years ago, and residents in some parts complain about mosquitos and odors. The right photo shows how most of the streets look like. All unpaved, in some places you can smell raw sewage. Quite a sad thing for me to be exposed to in Israel, as an Israeli.
On the left is one of the houses I saw this week. Raw greywater is piped directly to the backyard where some olive trees grow. The garden was a little muddy, quite smelly and in general unpleasant. In addition, I was told by the resident the toilet is located outside the house, or in other words, a field toilet.
The right photo shows the other end of sewage conditions in the village. This house, has a well designed cesspit where all the blackwater goes. Another cesspit was built for greywater, from where water is pumped out for irrigation. Overall, this house has no sanitary issues and it manages its wastewater quite successfully. The cesspit, covered by an upper cement layer, has a hole in the center which helps release the excrments gases.