The agricultural land in Palestine offers great potential for agriculture and other economic activities. But with Areas A and B of the West Bank being largely urbanized, most of the adjoining fertile land is located in Area C where restrictions to Palestinians on the use of land and groundwater resources has resulted in stagnation and declining competitiveness of the Palestinians agricultural sector. The sector faces a range of challenges from the abovementioned restrictions on access to natural resources, improved technologies, inputs and markets; to recurrent drought associated with climate change; population growth with direct implications for land fragmentation; and policy, institutional and technical capacity setbacks. This situation negatively impacts the productivity and profitability of agricultural services and erodes the resilience of the vulnerable people that depend on them for their living. Orchard producers (predominantly rainfed olive) in Area C in the West Bank are particularly vulnerable, struggling with challenges to access water and land while at the same time regularly being faced with uprooting and vandalization of trees. In order to partially bridge these challenges by enhancing the productivity and sustainability of orchard production, the testing and out scaling of water harvesting (WH) approaches is critical.
WH technologies have a long history in Palestine – particularly related with orchard agriculture such as olives and rainfed fruit trees. The indigenous knowledge on WH has been locally developed and shared over millennia. However, the volatile and protracted crisis situation has led to overexploitation of scarce resources, and degradation of land and agricultural assets in Palestine. Environmental (and climate) changes further accelerate land degradation. The dynamic agro-ecological context calls for adjusted solutions, merging the existing SLM knowledge with new approaches and assessment methods, to further optimize local SLM and enable long-term socio-economic benefits.