Palestine: agriculture, sustainability and fair work, the way to restart after the pandemic

Abu Sami lives together with Sami, his disabled son, and his family in Battir, a small village outside of Bethlehem.

He lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that left him unemployed and with a big family to take care of, especially Sami, who needs proper care and education.

They are one of the three families who benefit from the income-generating activities that AVSI is carrying out in the area with the local partner Lifegate Rehabilitation, through the project “SINERGY: Inclusive economic and environmental sustainability to foster the employment and resilience of Palestinian communities” funded by the Emilia Romagna Region to support the most vulnerable categories in Palestine.

The project goal is to foster the development of suitable economic and social conditions for the communities located in the Governorate of Bethlehem and for the refugee camps in the area, guaranteeing inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Around 540 people here are direct beneficiaries of the project, but of course its impact will be much wider, indirectly covering also their families and community.

Together with local and Italian partners, AVSI developed two core activities to support the population who was most hardly hit by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and by the hostilities between Hamas and Israel.


1) The Overseas Onlus and the Environmental Unit of Lajee Center are involved in implementing a rooftop gardening activity in the refugee camps of Aida and Al-Azzeh, that will prove to be beneficial for about 140 people, including students at the UN schools, young people from the camps, and their families. The purpose of this initiative goes beyond the simple fact of improving the food security of young people in the camps and their families, it also includes getting the community engaged in a sustainable form of agriculture based on a low resource consumption and the reuse of rainwater and organic waste.

2) The second core activity of the project focuses on fostering the creation of socially inclusive employment opportunities: together with the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS), AVSI supports the local artisans, whose work was negatively affected by the lack of international tourism.

Furthermore, in partnership with Lifegate Rehabilitation, AVSI is promoting the education and creation of self-subsistence or income generating activities for people with disabilities. At Lifegate, three vocational trainings have begun by now: carpentry, blacksmith, and gardening. Thanks to these courses, 8 young people are acquiring important skills that will help them become more independent in the future. In addition, three families of people with disabilities have been supported to start off their own small businesses.

One of these three families is that of Abu Sami, who set up a small successful beekeeping business. In August, they will have their first ever honey production.


SINERGY (December 2020 - March 2022)

The project started on December 15, 2020 and has been extended until March 14, 2022. It fits into a long and successful collaboration between AVSI and the Emilia Romagna Region in Palestine, developed through various past partnerships and successful projects accomplished together.

On June 16, the second steering committee of the project took place, partially via Teams, partially at the Lajee Center. The way the activities are progressing was discussed, describing how they are going forward and bringing up the issues that forced some slowdowns, such as the outbreaks of COVID-19. Furthermore, the extension of the project was mentioned, as it was to be decided towards the end of June.

In addition, the partners were introduced and had the possibility to illustrate the activities they carry out, both within and outside the framework of this project.

The Municipality of Forlì is also involved in SINERGY as a project partner, and will play the role of "communicator", by sharing the results of the project with the citizens at a local level.