April 2, 2012
WEST BANK – A handful of makeshift homes built from small boulders and plastic tarps and secured with thick ropes sit in the isolated community of She’b El- Buttum in the South Hebron Hills. A few metres away, several rows of solar panels and two wind turbines are affixed to the rocky hilltop, providing electricity to the village’s 150 residents.
“We use the electricity for the milking machine, for the washing machine, the fridge, and for getting light when night falls,” says Ismail Al-Jabarin, a 43-year-old She’b El-Buttum resident. “Before getting access to electricity, we lived on a generator that functioned two hours a day only, and had frequent problems. It is much, much better with electricity.”
As herders who rely on goats, sheep and other animals for their livelihoods, residents of She’b El-Buttum used to spend three hours a day manually churning milk into butter. With access to reliable electricity, the process now takes only half an hour.
“If the military forces come and destroy the electricity, our life will turn miserable again,” Al-Jabarin tells IPS. “Our life is much more comfortable with electricity. Life without electricity is deplorable and very difficult.”