Reports on a sample of Orchard Garden Restoration

NS476 Hassan Shop Hassan – Wadi Tinya

 Hassan is 18 years old and his family live up in the high mountain wadis all the year round.  There are thirteen people in the family and they only go to stay in the town when it is very cold. Only a handful of families still live this way, relying on their gardens to provide them with drinking water, food and an income.  The expanding family needed another of their wells deepened so they can plant more trees and vegetables.  At some stage Hassan will be getting married and will want to raise a family of his own in this place. The well is in an abandoned garden up the side of the wadi, where lots of rosemary grows.  It was a shallow well with some water in winter but none when they need it in summer.NS455

They have dug out the well by 2 m in granite and 1m in sand and they made the well wider. They have two and a half meters of water depth, giving four meters of water a day which is a very good amount. They built a wall around the top to protect it too.  

The nearby garden is very well looked after and they are growing grapes, almonds apricots , pomegranates, corn, beans, tomatoes, and mulaheqar (a green leafy vegetable).  Hassan has five brothers and two sisters. They rely totally on the garden not just for food but on the income from growing food to sell. This money is needed to buy essentials from the villlage like tea, flour, sugar, rice, lentils, oil. They also need to buy clothes. They have goats for milk some of which they dry to store.  – Completed November 2019

NS455 Hamid Oda Jemeya Oda – Wadi Itlah

The well is owned by Hamid and it came from his grandfather to his father and then to him. He has several brothers and sisters and cousins who all use it to grow food for their families, so in all about 20 people could benefit from it.  Hamid is married with one small son. The garden is medium sized with 5 almond trees, 2 apricots, a pomegranate and grapes as well as vegetables. The well is just outside and above the garden. In October 16 it was filled in by floods. This has happened before because it is in the bottom of a side wadi, and they have dug it out. The well was in need of proper flood protection. It had  is about one meter of water usually but was filled with gravel and stones.   

They dug out the flood debris down to the original level but there was very little water.  They dug down further by 1.8 m and now the well has good water.  They have built a small wall around the well and a strong lid with steel bars over the top to protect it against any future floods. There are no roads into the wadi as it is steep and rocky to access over high passes.  All the equipment, including cement had to be brought by camel. 3 men worked for 16 days on the digging. More men were required for cement mixing and transportation of materials. 

They are getting 2 cubes a day of water a day which is plenty for the garden.  Their trees look healthier now and they are planning on planting more trees in February.  They will be able to grow some winter vegetables, including beans, starting in September and many more next year.  They have made good work of this well restoration and it will help all the extended family with food and an income.  Completed June 2019




In Egypt water is scarce.  It is a desert landscape with little rain so access to water is by wells dug into the aquifer below to access water stored centuries before by the rock formations. The Bedouin people have relied on wells for water for thousands of years.

The Egyptian authorities only provide water suitable for washing, as it is contaminated by sewage and this is distributed by truck for payment.  Consequently people rely on old community wells for drinking water for them and their animals. Each well supplies 15-30 families and their goats and camels – but many are going dry due to the drop in the water table.

Well water is shared around communities and there is often not enough . Bedouin traditions ensure that no-one will ever refuse their water to others but it results in too many families drawing water from one well. Women usually collect the water and often have far to walk to the nearest well where collecting with buckets can be unsafe. When there are no useable wells in an area people are forced to go many miles to find it and then only a little can be carried.

We started facilitating the restoration of community wells in 2008 after requests by Bedouin communities for help.

Wells are restored by digging out flooded wells, digging wells deeper to reach the lower water table, and by lining the wells to prevent them caving in.  Flood protection walls or a lid are usually added to safeguard the water supply. Often water is pumped or gravity fed to a water tank or Birka beside houses in a community.  Funds pay for experienced well diggers and builders, for cement, hoses, pumps, steel reinforcing bars, strong metal lids, transport of materials including cement and stones, and tools.  It is also traditional in Egypt for workers to be fed while working on the project.

We have facilitated the restorations of 275 wells in the towns, mountains and deserts around St Katherines, but we still have another 200 wells on our waiting list, so the project continues.

In July 2015 we initiated the first Makhad Trust sponsored Beekeeping Training Programme in St Katherine’s, with help from The Eva Crane Trust. This year-long training enabled 5 Bedouin to become trained beekeepers with 10 hives of bees each. Their teacher was Mousa who has been keeping bees since he was a small boy and now has over 30 hives. The novice beekeepers have been very enthusiastic and now enjoy their new careers as beekeepers.

In September 2016, a new cadre of trainees started their training, this time with Salem who has hives in the mountains and has chosen men with mountain gardens so that there are more pollinating insects for the gardens. There were six new trainees and they all completed their training successfully.

From 2017 to 2018, thanks to extra funding we were able to train 10 new beekeepers, and then in 2018 to 2019 we trained another 6 men.  In total 27 men have benefited with bees and a full training course.  Selem still keeps a check on his ex-students and is always available if there are problems. Honey from St Katherines is highly prized and can sell for 300LE a kilo (near £30) and often it is bought before it has been made! It is certainly delicious. Please visit our Beekeeping Gallery.

We are very grateful to the Eva Crane Trust for helping to fund two years of our Beekeeping Training course and then part of the next two years together with Didymus CIO will also help fund the next course.  We would like to express huge gratitude to the Eva Crane Trust for having faith in our project and the repeat funding and also to Didymus CIO for their very generous contribution to this project.