West Bank Cement Factory, Palestine

Sanad Construction Industries is looking to build a cement factory in the Bethlehem Governorate, at the proximity of the traditionally agricultural village of Arab el-Rashaida. The villagers opposed the project, citing possible environmental burdens.


Description

On October 1, 2016, Sanad Construction company announced the launch of the Palestinian Cement Factory project in a ceremony under the patronage of the Palestinian president after having received approvals from the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Local Government. [1] A month later, on November 2, when representatives from Sanad visited the lot where the construction was supposed to take place on, they were sent back by locals from Arab el-Rashaida and prevented from conducting their land survey. [2] Arab el-Rashaida is a Palestinian village in Bethlehem Governorate located 18.7km southeast of Bethlehem City with a population not exceeding 1500 as of 2007. Most of its surface area is used for agriculture as it makes up 60% of the village's economic activity. Moreover, Arab el-Rashaida lacks basic wastewater and solid waste management infrastructure as well as no health clinics or pharmacies. Over the years, the village underwent several water crises and saw its water supply cut off for long periods in summer. The insufficient water supply, high rate of water loss, underdeveloped water network, and the lack of rainwater harvesting all play a part in exacerbating the situation. [3][4] The main reasons for rejecting the project entirely was mainly its proximity to the village and the consequences that might have. Villagers argue that the factory will be built over wells that they use to feed their livestock, which amounts to one-third of all the livestock in Palestine, threatening their existence and their main source of income. In addition, the issue of Basin No. 3 was brought up, a part of land intended for the factory but whose ownership is disputed between the farmers and the government. According to them, the air and soil pollution resulting from building and operating the factory will push the residents of Arab el-Rashaida to migrate, opening a door for Israeli settlements on the vacated land. [5][6] A year before, Sanad tried to construct the plant in another location, in the east of Tulkram. The company was also met with opposition, to which it responded that the project will only take place with the approval of the landowners, prompting them to find another location. [7] On January 11, 2017, Sanad posted a detailed video about the project on their website [9], affirming that it will go through. In it, they claim that a substantial part of the budget will be used for "environmental equipment". In addition, they maintained that the factory will be 4 Km away from the closest inhabited area and that underground aquifers and other environmental resources won't be affected, as opposed to the claims of the villagers. Showing that their initial claims were not taken into consideration and that the project is on track.

Basic Data
NameWest Bank Cement Factory, Palestine
CountryPalestine
ProvinceBetlehem
SiteArab al-Rashayda
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other industries
Specific CommoditiesCement
Water
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsUpon completion, the cement factory will have a capacity of 1.3 million tons of cement per year a little bit more than a third of the annual Palestinian market demand.

The Cement mill - the first phase of the project - is expected to require 13 MW of electricity per year and 200 CM of water per day that are going to be extracted from the water reserves in the area. The project plans to use renewable energy including waste to energy-based projects and treated water. [8]
Project Area (in hectares)13,000
Level of Investment (in USD)310,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,453 (According to 2007 census)
Start Date02/11/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesSanad Construction Industries (Sanad) from Palestine - Main Contractor
Relevant government actorsEnvironmental Quality Authority (EQA)

Ministry of National Economy (MNE)

Ministry of Local Government (MOLG)

Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)
International and Financial InstitutionsPalestinian Investment Fund (PIF) from Palestine - Purchased the Lot
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersArab al-Rashaida Community Committee
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Villagers prevented representatives from the company in doing their land surveys in the first phases of the project.
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Development of AlternativesSome farmers of the village proposed investing in agricultural and animal husbandry projects (without going into details), that could boost the economic revenue of the area without being harmful to health and the environment. They have also stressed on the fact that another location should be found for building the factory. [6]
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.It is unclear whether the demands of the villagers were met or if any consequences on their livelihoods were already reported but Sanad went on with the construction of the factory as teams from Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority visited the site and conducted field tests showing that the location is appropriate for the cement plant.
Sources and Materials
References

[4] - Arab el-Rashaida Village Profile by The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem
[click to view]

[3] - Arab el-Rashaida Village Fact-Sheet by The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem
[click to view]

Links

[2] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from Al-Iqtisadi (Arabic)

[1] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from Al-Ayyam (Arabic)
[click to view]

[7] - Sanad Press Release after rejection of first location by residents
[click to view]

[5] - Arab el-Rashaida newspaper article from PalTimes (Arabic)

[8] - Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) Launches the First Palestinian Cement Factory Mega Project
[click to view]

[6] - Arab el-Rashaida article Al-Monitor (English)
[click to view]

Media Links

Arab el-Rashaida Cement Factory Report

"Arab el-Rashaida, the Dream of Life Between Ashes" (Arabic)
[click to view]

[9] - Video description of the project, posted on Sanad's official website on January 11, 2017
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorChristophe Maroun - ICTA
Last update06/04/2017
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