Thematic Area: Agriculture, Eradication of poverty, Accessibility, Protection of historical and cultural heritage.

Geographic Area: West Bank, Governorates of Hebron and Bethlehem.

Local Partners: Land Research Center, Mosaic Centre

Italian Partners: CRIC, Italian Network on Disability and Development (RIDS)

General Objective: Supporting the economic empowerment of the families living in the arid and semi-arid areas of Hebron and Bethlehem districts.

Specific Objective: To generate higher income and extend arable areas by developing an integrated system of land set-up and management in the target areas, which takes into account and enhances the agro-biodiversity and the climate characteristics of the territory; to encourage a sustainable, inclusive and accessible form of tourism by supporting local entrepreneurship; to promote the socioeconomic value of the territory by enhancing and protecting the historical and cultural heritage of the area.

Direct Beneficiaries: 200 families of farmers or shepherds (among whom women lead at least 60 households), 60 families of persons with disabilities, 5 Community Based Organizations and Disabled People Organizations.

Indirect beneficiaries: the population of the urban and rural areas of the target territories, for a total of 16000 people, among whom 51% are women and 49% men.

Project Summary: In the target areas (the districts of Hebron and Bethlehem), the main sources of income are activities such as agriculture and grazing (30-50%), and the Israeli job market (30-40%), which offers higher-paid jobs that, however, are often illegal.  In addition, new immigration laws in Israel have limited the access to the job market for Palestinian workers, who are now facing higher levels of unemployment (over 35%).  Regarding agriculture, more than 70% of the arable territories of the selected areas are located in Area C , where the soil is considered to be arid or semi-arid, and threatened by desertification. This affects negatively the productivity of the territories, which is also reduced by Israeli confiscation of overgrown lands and the lack of good agricultural practice (more than 50% of farmers use seeds coming from the Israeli market instead of local ones, reducing the productivity of the crops).  These factors have negative consequences on families' earnings, especially for families of people with disabilities.
The project aims at improving agriculture productivity and the value of lands in order to reduce the risk of confiscation. The activities implemented will be: reducing soil erosion and increasing the arable and grazing areas through specific interventions integrated with the landscape; building tanks and a farm road; distributing selected local seeds, shrubs for grazing, fruit plants.  A “Field Farmers School” will be activated to promote good agricultural practices, increase farmers' skills, and study the soil composition in order to identify the best crops to cultivate. 75% of the participants is expected to improve their agricultural practices, and the productivity is expected to increase by 120%, generating more income for the families.  Villages in the selected areas are also characterized by a beautiful landscape and a rich cultural and architectural heritage, not sufficiently valued. The archaeological sites from Byzantine and Crusade periods present in the area are left abandoned. For such reason, together with the national project “Masar Ibrahim”, it has been planned a structural intervention to grant full access to archaeological sites,  museums, cultural centers, as well as to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism in the target areas. The project will implement architectural measures to create accessible and sustainable tourists’ accommodations and facilities, and to improve accessibility in the houses of people with disabilities. To promote inclusiveness for visually impaired people, informative signs in Braille and audio guides will be created. The project will also activate training for people with disabilities on the methods of promotion and protection of the cultural heritage, as well as on the creation of micro-businesses linked with accessible and sustainable tourism.