Igniting Collaboration: Interactive Activities for WBI-EF/RWDS Project Launch.

March, 28, 2024. Ramallah, Palestine.

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WBI-EF/RWDS Project: Promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development through the cultivation and production of thyme in the village of Yabrud.

Short description of the project:
The occupation of Palestine by Israel has profoundly impacted the lives and economy of Palestinians, including in Yabrud village. With a high unemployment rate of around 90% in 2020 and limited access to markets due to Israeli measure. These limitations are caused by Israeli restrictions, including land confiscation (over 27,000 acres since October 2023) and displacement of communities. The agricultural sector in Yabrud faces significant challenges. To address this, our project focuses on empowering rural women through thyme cultivation, leveraging Yabrud's agricultural heritage. By rehabilitating farms, enhancing agricultural skills, expanding marketing channels, and promoting economic and labor rights awareness, we aim to achieve SDG goals related to food security, gender equality, economic growth, and responsible production.
The WBI-EF/RWDS Project aims to address these challenges by supporting the development of farms for rural women in Yabrud. The focus is on boosting their thyme production capacity and broadening marketing avenues. Anticipated outcomes encompass the rehabilitation of 10 dunums farms, enhancement of agricultural skills for 20 women farmers, improvement of thyme production expertise for 15 members of the Yabrud women's club, provision of expanded marketing opportunities for 35 rural women, and promotion of awareness regarding economic and labor rights for 55 women in the agricultural sector. The project will follow the guidelines set forth in the project presentation file and budget.

Aims of the project:
General objective:
The overall objective is to contribute to food security in rural areas of the West Bank, Palestine, through sustainable agriculture, economic development and gender equality for rural women.
Specific objectives:
- Develop farms for rural women in the village of Yabrud by rehabilitating land, providing environmentally-friendly agricultural inputs and organizing capacity-building training.
- Increase the production capacity of rural women, particularly in the area of thyme growing, by providing production inputs, packaging materials, technical training and expanding marketing channels.

Expected results:
Result 1:
10 farm dunums are rehabilitated and supplied with agricultural inputs in the village of Yabrud.
Result 2:
20 women farmers in the village of Yabrud improve their agricultural skills and crops by growing thyme.
Result 3:
The production capacities of 15 rural women from the Yabroud women's club in terms of thyme production and quality control are strengthened.
Result 4:
35 rural women from the village of Yabrud benefit from increased marketing channels and opportunities.
Result 5:
55 women are aware of their economic and labour rights, mainly in the agricultural sector.

Project total budget /
97,902.06 €
WBI - Wallonie-Bruxelles International contribution (90%) /
EF - Entraide et Fraternité contribution (10%) /
Project duration /
This project is set to run for 24 months, kicking off on January 1, 2024.

Lunching Project preparational activity description.
Between February and March 2024, RWDS organized numerous meetings with stakeholders and potential beneficiaries, including women farmers and members of the women's club in Yabrud village, at the administrative and management level of RWDS. These meetings were designed to brief participants about both the overall and specific objectives of the project, detail planned activities and anticipated results, and deliberate on the project's timeframe, taking into account the seasonal aspects of thyme planting and its implications for water usage in irrigation.
Additionally, RWDS conducted a field visit to the targeted areas and lands in Yabrud village, facilitated by two volunteer agricultural engineers in cooperation with the RWDS project team. The initial outputs from this visit focused on identifying potential 10-dunum farms and selecting 20 women farmers as direct beneficiaries.
The project is progressing rapidly in its first phase, with a focus on providing capacity-building training in environmentally-friendly agriculture and best practices in thyme planting for 20 beneficiaries. This phase also includes rehabilitating 10 farm dunums and providing agricultural inputs for 20 women beneficiaries in Yabrud village, such as thyme seedlings, water tanks, irrigation networks, fertilizing machines, pesticides, fertilizers, compost, agricultural tools, and other accessories. Thyme planting typically occurs from late March to early May during the spring and summer seasons.
Furthermore, RWDS and its project partners are leveraging this opportunity to introduce the project and its comprehensive agreement, which aims to empower rural women in Yabrud village by establishing farms and enhancing their production capabilities, specifically in thyme cultivation and expanding market access. This initiative directly supports four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): eradicating hunger (SDG 2), achieving gender equality (SDG 5), promoting decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), and encouraging responsible consumption and production practices (SDG 12).
On other hand, a recent meeting with Ms. Asmhan Dawood, a key member of the Yabrud Village Women's Club, provided valuable insights. Ms. Dawood shared her vast experience in volunteer work with the Women’s Club and highlighted a crucial shift among local farmers. Water scarcity has driven them away from traditional crops like lentils, barley, and wheat as rainfed crops. Instead, they are opting for options like zucchini and tomatoes which are irrigated crops.
However, Ms. Dawood identified thyme, a plant readily found wild, as a potential game-changer. Thyme cultivation holds promise for the commercial market, potentially fulfilling local demand and even venturing into international exports after the conflict subsides.

She emphasized the project's potential to empower women and youth in the village through job creation and economic opportunities. Ms. Dawood underscored the importance of discipline throughout the project and close monitoring of results. This will be crucial for fostering business development and establishing strong networks between producers and markets.
The project also aims to engage young women and raise awareness about the possibilities of thyme production.
Moreover, at the project management level, there is a commitment to work closely with media dissemination partners to ensure extensive coverage of the project and its initiatives, thereby engaging stakeholders and beneficiaries effectively.
“This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Wallonie-Bruxelles International, and Entraide et Fraternité. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Rural Women's Development Society - RWDS and cannot, under any circumstances, be construed as reflecting the views of the donor and project partners regarding project management structures.”

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