Problem definition

Access to water is one of the most acute issues facing impoverished off-grid rural communities in Area C. This is manifested, among other things, in insufficient water supply, inadequate delivery means, and poor water quality. The communities residing in the south Hebron hills, where Comet-ME has worked for the past decade, rely on rainwater harvesting and cistern storage for water supply, as do many Palestinian communities in Area C. Neither connected to the water grid nor permitted to build new or access many existing cisterns for rainwater harvesting, families often exhaust their water supply early in the summer and need to purchase water in tanks and transport it to their dwellings, the price they pay reaching 8 to 10 times the tariff for grid-connected users.

Rain runoff into the cisterns is contaminated with organic waste, impacting the quality of drinking water and the state of health in these communities, especially among children, the sick, and the elderly. And finally, because cisterns are not equipped with mechanized pumping capacity (due to the more general lack of electricity), water is drawn and carried manually, the burden of obtaining water for domestic use falling disproportionately on women and girls. The lack of proper delivery means increases the risk of water-borne diseases, endangering community health.

Comet-ME has developed and implemented its water program since 2013, building on our extensive experience in the renewable energy sector. The goal of the program is to provide comprehensive renewable-energy-based water services for communities struggling to survive in harsh climatic and political conditions. The core activities of the program are the installation of household pumping, storage, distribution, and filtration systems and regular monitoring of water quality.

Installing a mechanical pump on a water-harvesting cistern in the south Hebron hills. Photo: Ryan Brand

Our solution

Comet-ME’s water pumping, distribution, and filtration systems provide a household-level water solution that builds upon and improves traditional family water-management practices in the south Hebron hills. The mechanical pumping and distribution of water to taps in and around the home provides convenient access to water and vastly reduces the amount of time and labor dedicated to household water management. Multi-stage filtration, culminating in a bio-sand filter (BSF) that is installed in the kitchen of each home, brings microbiologically contaminated water to first-world drinking standards.

For more, read “Comet-H2O: Provision of Sustainable Water Services to Off-Grid Palestinian Communities in the South Hebron Hills

The mechanical pumping and distribution of water from the cistern to taps in and around the home provides convenient access to water and vastly reduces the amount of time and labor dedicated to household water management.
Comet-ME’s water lab technician visits the communities on a rotating basis, reaching each community every 4-6 weeks and taking samples from the bio-sand filters. The water samples are then tested in Comet-ME’s in-house microbiology lab, and a weekly internal report is produced, comparing the latest results with previous results in each household. This enables us to observe the adjustment of the bio-sand filters to changes in water quality input (such as following rainfall) and to determine whether localized treatment of the water is necessary.
In an awareness campaign conducted throughout 2019, a medical doctor joined our water expert on his regular sampling visits to the communities, conducted a baseline survey among the women about their use of the bio-sand filters, helped them identify health risks related to drinking water contamination, and advised them about how to minimize the negative health effects through proper use of the filters. Photo credit: Ryan Brand