Marj Sanour

Improving conjunctive use of water and livelihood security in a Palestinian watershed

Marj Sanur is located in the southern part of the Jenin Governorate, an area suffering from water scarcity. This is a mountainous area, where hills surround relatively flat plains and gentle sloping water paths. Around these hill sides, the land is owned by seven villages which essentially affect and are socially and economically affected by the basin’s water. Marj Sanur is a valley with good agricultural potential for annual crops. However, given its nature as a closed basin, it suffers every 3 to 5 years from important flooding due to winter rains and snow when a temporary lake is formed.  As a consequence, the cultivated area is a function of the area not covered by floodwaters.  

While harvesting of surface water might be an important option for drinking water supply and irrigation, currently, water supply for both drinking water and irrigation is almost entirely dependent on groundwater and the groundwater table is being depleted. It is hence evident that this double sided problem (scarcity and flooding) originates from the same root: bad land-use and water management in the watershed. The assumption is made that through a better management of surface water (run-off) it is possible to alleviate the problem of flooding while also reducing pressure on groundwater. 

Rescuing rural livelihoods by effective watershed management and increased agricultural development 

The project aims at developing a general methodology for system-based, ecosystem-oriented watershed development that would allow strategizing and decision-making endorsed by key stakeholders in Palestine. The demonstration project will work on a simple model for watershed development planning and will be supported by a user-friendly Decision Support System (DSS) that can be applied in the mountainous zones of West Asia. As such, this model is being tested in the hilly area of Marj Sanour. The project will give special emphasis to sustainable livelihoods, agricultural development and conjunctive use of ground and surface (run-off) water. It will also prevent flooding and landslide through the promotion of agriculture on hill slopes surrounding the villages.