“Greening the Future: Innovative Solutions for Climate Resilience in Palestinian Refugee Camps”
Planting Hope - urban gardening in climate-vulnerable Palestinian refugee camps
Hamdi Hato is an environmental engineer and social entrepreneur from Ramallah. Brian Crann is an environmental engineer…
- Climate change has become a pressing global issue, and it is crucial to find innovative solutions to address its impacts. Palestinian refugee camps are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is why it is important to explore ways to make them more resilient. Urban gardening is one such solution that can not only provide food security but also improve the overall living conditions in the camps.
Chapter 1: Understanding the Climate Challenges in Palestinian Refugee Camps
- This chapter will provide an overview of the climate-related challenges faced by Palestinian refugee camps. It will cover topics such as water scarcity, extreme temperatures, and soil degradation. It will also discuss the impact of these challenges on the health and well-being of the residents.
Chapter 2: The Benefits of Urban Gardening in Palestinian Refugee Camps
- This chapter will explore the benefits of urban gardening in Palestinian refugee camps. It will discuss how urban gardening can improve food security, provide economic opportunities, and promote social cohesion. It will also cover the environmental benefits of urban gardening, such as reducing carbon footprint and improving air quality.
Chapter 3: Implementing Urban Gardening in Palestinian Refugee Camps
- This chapter will provide practical information on how to implement urban gardening in Palestinian refugee camps. It will cover topics such as site selection, water management, soil preparation, and crop selection. It will also provide information on how to engage the community in the gardening process and how to ensure the sustainability of the gardening projects.
Chapter 4: Case Studies of Successful Urban Gardening Projects in Palestinian Refugee Camps
- This chapter will provide real-world examples of successful urban gardening projects in Palestinian refugee camps. It will discuss the challenges faced by the project, the solutions implemented, and the impact of the project on the community.
Climate change is a global issue that affects people all over the world, but it is particularly pressing in the Palestinian refugee camps. These camps are overcrowded, with limited resources and poor infrastructure, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
One of the main problems facing Palestinian refugee camps is urban density. With an estimated population density of nearly 73,000 people per square km in Al-Am’ari camp, the lack of open spaces and green spaces puts a strain on the physical and mental health of the community as the climate continues to warm. Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and the policy established by the Oslo Accords means that Palestinians are unable to expand horizontally and must instead develop vertically as the population grows. As temperatures increase, heat is unable to escape, and there are next to no green spaces to help absorb it and provide shade.
Another major issue is food security. In over 60% of the West Bank, Palestinians require a permit issued by the Israeli Civil Administration in order to access groundwater, posing a major challenge to agricultural operations. In the camps, fresh and nutritious food is often unavailable to families due to economic constraints. A reduction in Israeli work permits and low levels of education and training leave many women in the camp with a lack of opportunities for economic engagement.
Despite these conditions, many residents opt to remain in the camp rather than move to surrounding areas. For thousands, Al-Am’ari represents the essence of a story of intergenerational resilience, hope, and identity. If they leave the camp, it will be to return to their homeland and nowhere else. Without action to enhance climate resilience, it is plausible that camp residents may duplicate their experience and becomes refugees twice over, this time due to climate change.
One solution to these issues is urban gardening. We established Planting Hope in Palestine in 2017, with the aims of addressing lack of green space, biodiversity, and women’s employment. After a successful pilot garden was implemented, we moved into the capacity building phase which, in partnership with the Al Am’ari Women’s Center, extended the project to the women of the camp. Engagement with 67 young women in Al Am’ari resulted in the creation of 50 green rooftop units in the camp, thus creating 50 self-employment opportunities and 50 homes for birds, insects, and dreamers. Establishing these gardens provided an opportunity for women of the community to practice management skills and to turn an unused space into a place that showcases their abilities and aspirations. In addition, the gardens can provide locally grown food and nutrition for the community. With further development, this could provide economic opportunities for the residents of the camp as well. We are now in the stage of providing development services and ongoing training for the women involved as well as attempting to increase biodiversity in the area through these green rooftop units.
Urban gardening is a practical solution to the problems facing Palestinian refugee camps. It addresses issues of food security, economic opportunities, and mental health. It also promotes social cohesion and community engagement. Through urban gardening, residents of Palestinian refugee camps can take action to improve their own lives and make their communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.
However, the program faced several challenges including low initial interest. Residents were hesitant to put rooftop gardens on their homes because the space was usually reserved to build additional rooms for growing families. Additionally, instability regarding the security situation has typically discouraged residents from implementing outside-of-the-box ideas. The environment of the camp is not one that fosters innovation or new ideas. But, with the right support and resources, urban gardening can be a powerful tool for enhancing climate resilience in Palestinian refugee camps.
Palestinian refugee camps are facing significant challenges due to climate change. Urban gardening can be an effective solution to improve the living conditions in the camps. By providing food security, economic opportunities, and promoting social cohesion, urban gardening can help to build a more resilient future for Palestinian refugees. The challenge is to find the right way to implement these initiatives and make them sustainable over time.