Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates

Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Rainwater harvesting analysis using Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool

PI: Issam Al-Khatib (Birzeit University)
U.S. Partners: Defne S. Apul (University of Toledo) and Steve Burian (University of Utah)
Project Dates: December 2013 to June 2017
 2-347_Al-Khatib in USA
Dr. Al-Khatib during his U.S. program visit in May 2015.
Rapid population growth and political issues associated with control over Palestinian water and land resources have exacerbated problems of water supply and management. Many Palestinian localities in the West Bank suffer from shortages of domestic and agricultural water mainly during the summer months, when the water shortage makes everything difficult. Water scarcity can be considered as a major constraint for economic and social development and sustainability of the domestic and agricultural sector in the West Bank. Rainwater harvesting systems (RWH) can play an important role in creating a realistic and sustainable environment in the future. Their use in drinking, domestic, and agricultural sectors not only compensates for the shortage of water but also reduces the chances of severe floods causing widespread damage.

Project aim: analyze the different aspects of rainwater harvesting through the development of a Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool (WHEAT), which is a new and extensible sustainability modeling and analysis framework. The data, models, results, and developed relations produced in all tasks (i.e., assessment of socioeconomic and water-related topics at household and community scale and hydrological assessment within the community boundaries and adjacent watersheds) will be integrated in WHEAT. This tool will be used to assess the impact of any intervention on the water sector in the target community, including water, economy, and social impacts.
Expected results:  impact on construction and on locality and storm water infrastructure design and analysis, which are key environmental issues. If the results of the project are promising, it should provide incentive to the population to begin harvesting rain water. Through the involvement of the U.S. partners in project and research activities, three Master's-level students will be trained. Research results will be integrated with other Palestinian universities in the West Bank and in civil engineering courses taught at the University of Toledo and University of Utah. The capacity of three faculty members at the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies at Birzeit University will also be enhanced through collaborative research visits to the U.S. partners. The results of this research will be of interest for the Palestinian Water Authority, Ministry of Local Government, municipalities, local councils, and hydrology professionals in the West Bank.
Overall Summary of Activities
The project was successfully completed in June 2017, with a number of key results and developmental impacts:
  • Four master theses: three have been finished and one is in its final stage.
  • Six scientific papers, of which two have been published in international journals (Q1 and Q2), one has been submitted for publication, the draft of the fourth and fifth papers is undergoing final revisions, and the sixth is in progress.
  • A Water Harvesting Evaluation Tool and a manual have been developed and translated into Arabic. They will be utilized in different courses at different Palestinian universities, and it has been translated into Arabic.
  • Guidelines for rainwater harvesting at the household level have been developed. 6000 copies have been printed and around 4000 copies have been distributed to different Palestinian individuals, ministries, institutions, NGOs, schools, university students, women associations, etc.
  • Coordinating the Palestinian Conference on Rainwater Harvesting and Management
Development impact: A solid understanding of competitiveness and importance of investing in the rainwater harvesting (RWH) and sanitation sector as a means to enhance livelihoods and business opportunities in rural areas has been successfully achieved among both local residents and policy makers in the study area and other Palestinian areas, as most of actions, including the 14 training workshops conducted, the development of the guidelines for rainwater harvesting at the household level, and the Palestinian Conference on Rainwater Harvesting and Management activities, were implemented with participation and involvement of policy makers from different levels. The guidelines were adopted by the policy makers at Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Palestinian Water Authority and the Environment Quality Authority.  

Community awareness regarding water optimization, common RWH systems in Palestine, selection of appropriate RWH technology, maintenance and cleaning supply, storing methods, contaminants in RWH system, treatment and basic construction, installation, operation and maintenance of roof top and surface catchments, water and sanitation-health relationship have been developed. 

The awareness of the decision-makers in local authorities towards the importance of efficient and sustainable RWH reportedly increased, as many of them participated in all activity actions. This is anticipated to contribute in the reduction of the water and sanitation related diseases among residents in the target area. The implemented training workshops will have an impact on building, locality and storm water infrastructure design and analysis. The results of this activity are anticipated to give the population the incentive to harvest rain water based on the scientific bases. The results of this activity were of interest to the Palestinian Water Authority, Ministry of Local Government, municipalities, local councils, and hydrology professionals in the West Bank, as they were involved in the different stages of activity implementation. The government is currently considering tax exemptions for those who establish rainwater cisterns.

PI Recognition: In July 2017, Dr. Issam A. Al-Khatib (PI) got the Arab American University Award of Excellence in Scientific Research for Palestinian Researchers in the Category of Natural, Engineering, and Technological Sciences. The rewarded paper was one of the project outputs.

Educational Impacts: Throughout the course of the project, the research team organized a total of 15 training events with 482 females 321 males trained. The materials developed during the project period were utilized in curriculum development at the Palestinian Universities.

Peer-reviewed Publications and Proceedings: (1) Al-Khatib, I.A., Al Zabadi, H., Saffarini, G. (2017). Radon in harvested rainwater at the household level, Palestine. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 169-170, 192-196.Publisher: Elsevier; (2) Celik, I., Tamimi, L.M.A., Al-Khatib, I.A., Apul, D.S. (2017). Management of rainwater harvesting and its impact on the health of people in the Middle East: case study from Yatta town, Palestine. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189(6): 271. DOI 10.1007/s10661-017-5970-y. Publisher: Springer.  

2-347 RWH Workshop2-347 RWH Workshop 2
Participants at the rainwater harvesting workshops organized by the project team to discuss techniques of water harvesting and conservation (photo credit: Dr. Al-Khatib).
Back to PEER Cycle 2 Grant Recipients