Global

  • Renewable energy powers off-grid Palestinian villages

    Imogen Mathers

    09/09/15
Westbank
In the dry, rugged terrain of South Mount Hebron in Palestine, electricity is a rare commodity. The Palestinians living in this part of the West Bank are mainly off-grid and either have no electricity at all, or use expensive diesel generators if they can afford to. Area C, which spans two-thirds of the West Bank and is under Israeli control, is home to 300,000 Palestinians. For villages in the mountains of South Hebron — often no more than a few households living in caves in the hillside — access to basic services is a daily struggle.
 
According to Israeli-Palestinian NGO Comet-ME, the Israeli authorities refuse to provide energy to Palestinians as part of a systematic campaign to push them off their lands, into Areas A and B. But amid these daily hardships and brutal conditions, new routes to make life easier here have been opening up . For these arid, windswept lands are perfectly suited to solar and wind energy. Over the past few years, Comet-ME has worked with people in South Mount Hebron to set up small-scale renewable energy systems based on these technologies. These have improved lives and livelihoods by providing clean energy for refrigeration, cooking, making butter and cheese, and communications. So far Comet-ME has helped bring renewable energy to around 2,000 people in 24 villages in the southern West Bank.
 
Comet-ME also builds clean water systems for the communities — 70 per cent of whom, the UN reports, are not connected to the water network and rely on expensive tankered water. In some villages, people use as little as 20 litres of water a day — just a fifth of the WHO’s recommended level.
 
These photos capture Comet-ME’s work and the people who benefit from it.

Hear more about Comet-ME's West Bank projects in this SciDev.Net audio interview with the co-founder, Elad Orian.