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Testimony: Fatma Zein and her family suffer due to water shortage, Yatta, March 2009

Fatma Ahmad Hussein Zein, mother of eight

Fatma Zein

I am a widow and have six small children, three boys and three girls, aged 6-12. My husband was killed in 2003. His two daughters from his first wife, who died, live with us. We live in a small house in Yatta. The only income we have is an allotment of 1,000 shekels a month that we receive from a charity in Yatta. This sum is not enough to pay for food for nine people.

In addition to our income problems, we also suffer from water shortage, as do most residents of the town. The shortage affects all aspects of our life. We are connected to the town's water network, but since January 2008, we haven't gotten water through the network because we live at a high altitude, and the water pressure is insufficient to get the water to us. We buy all our water from tankers. The town sells the water at a rate of 120 shekels for ten cubic meters. You have to wait your turn, and we get water only once every twenty or thirty days. This is not often enough, so I have to buy water from private tankers, who charge 170 or 180 shekels. It is hard on us financially, but we have no choice

I save lots of water. I always warn the children not to waste water, and tell them to pay attention to every drop of water they use.  The children already know they have to conserve water. Every two children are given one bucket of water to shower with. We have rugs  on the floor all year round, so I don't wash the floor. That saves water.

For more than two years, I haven't washed the carpets or blankets. I use a washing machine that uses less water than other machines, and I use the shortest washing cycle so as to save water, even though the clothes don't come out clean enough.

My husband's son lives next to us, and he sometimes asks if he can take some of our water. Sometimes, we don't have enough to give him. We've gotten used to living like this because we don't have a choice. />

When my husband died, we owed 4,500 shekels to the town for water, and 5,000 shekels for electricity. I don't have the money to pay these debts, and I'm afraid they'll disconnect us. We don't get water from the network, but I'm afraid they'll cut off the electricity.

The house is surrounded by more than two dunams of land. If we had water, we could farm it and make some income that way.

Fatma Ahmad Hussein Zein, 40, widow with eight children, is a homemaker and a resident of Yatta, Hebron District. Her testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 1 March 2009.
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