February 3-4: Regional Event in Jordan
FoEME gathered together 80 Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian activists and mayors from the 25 participating project communities, as well as Parliamentarians from Jordan and Israel and leading journalists from the region for a weekend event in Jordan.
The event began with a tour of the region’s cross border water issues, so visible at the Addassiya Weir, where the waters of the Yarmouk river are divided between Jordan and Israel, leaving nothing for the Jordan River, and at Bakoura, opposite to Naharayim, where the Yarmouk and Lower Jordan Rivers join, and once boasted a hydroelectric power plant on the site. The second day consisted of panels, including a mayor’s panel, a Parliamentary panel and a journalists panel, each giving their insights and opinions for better and fairer management and coordination of our shared water resources, and suggestions for improved exposure of the sensitive subject of cooperation in this region of conflict. ‘TAP’ activists listened and took to the microphones to express their many opinions on a full range of issues.
The Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians (TAP) Project is supported by the European Union’s Partnerships for Peace program.
February 11: Cross Border Tour in Battir
On February 11th, Friends of the Earth Middle East staff, together with UNESCO experts and local environmentalists from both sides of the Green Line, came together to discuss and learn about the unique cultural heritage landscape of the Palestinian village of Battir, situated near Wadi Fukin. The activist’s tour was led by members of the Battir Landscape Ecomuseum Project.
FoEME staff, environmentalists and local residents are working with local authorities in the field of natural and cultural landscape management through the development of a model for sustainable use of the area and to halt the destruction of the cultural landscape on both sides of the Green Line. Read more in our blog.
February 23 – 25: Youth Regional Ecological Workshops – in Ein Gedi and Baqa el Gharbiya
The focus of the Ein Gedi camp was practical learning of ecological building techniques such as tire and mud benches, wetlands and compost. The participating youth had a good chance to get to know each other through the many activities, both environmental and social, held over the weekend.
In Baqa el Gharbiya, 8th grade “Water Trustees” hosted their peers from the neighboring community of Baqa el Sharkiya. Together they toured the fields of Baqa el Gharbiya by bike, created water saving games together, planted trees in a local school and visited the Mediterranean beach together. More on the Baqa Gharbiya camp in their local newspaper’s article.
February 15: Students Mapping Environmental Hazards
Good Water Neighbors youth “Water Trustees” are learning how to identify and map environmental hazards in their communities, and how to prioritize those that are most dangerous and polluting to groundwater. They will bring their findings to the attention of their municipality in a call for action.
In a joint project activity, 8 students from Emek Hefer and 8 students from Baqa el Gharbiya met for a GIS course to map the hazards they found. They made some great maps! Read the blog links to see more pictures of hazards they found.
The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA, the EU Partnerships for Peace program, and the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation.
FoEME’s Environmental Education Center in Auja
The Auja EcoCenter has developed into a hub of environmental events and activities and something is always going on! Here are some examples:
On the 13th of February, FoEME’s Auja staff was invited by the Ministry of the Local Government in Jericho to be a part of a Commission that is preparing an “Environmental Awareness Plan” for Jericho and Auja. The Commission consists of representatives from the Ministries of Education Health, Agriculture, Tourism and the Jericho municipality. The Auja Center will play a major role in the implementation of the Environmental Awareness Plan.
On the 24th of February, a lecture was given by FoEME’s Field Staff to the local “Environmental Clubs” of Auja and Jericho. The youth learned about theJordan River, it sources, its historical flow, what actions have brought it to its present day state and the effects of the dwindling River on the wild life in the area.
On the same day, an event was held in Ramallah for 150 Palestinian and Israeli environmental leaders as part of theTawasul project. The workshop began with an introduction about FoEME and continued with a description of our work in the Auja EcoCenter, including our five education stations – water conservation, grey water system, permaculture, recycling, and climate change. Discussions also included ecotourism, the economic benefits that ecotourism brings to the community, and its role in protecting nature. The next day, 45 people from the group came to the Auja EcoCenter for a 2-hour tour, to explore the environmental stations, followed by a presentation about the importance, feasibility, and benefits of water reuse, exemplified by the greywater system in place in Auja.
On the 26th of February, a workshop was held in the Center for 26 women from Auja, teaching
them about diseases that originate from environmental mismanagement – polluted drinking water, burning rubbish and other unsanitary practices. The risks to health were highlighted as well as the role that women could play to discourage unsustainable practices.
On the 28th of February, another workshop was held in the Library of the Municipalityof Jericho, describing the importance of water reuse and giving real time examples of the benefits of grey water systems, such as the ones installed in Auja’s EcoCenter and other homes in the village. FoEME’s grey water manual was distributed to the attendees of the workshop that included representatives of the Jericho Municipality, the Ministry of Education, 3 women’s centers in the area, Al Quds Open University, and others.
The Auja Environmental Education Center is supported by the Drosos Foundation.
New brochures for water reform – Amman
As part of the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, FoEME has launched national education campaigns to better manage water sources in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, in order to strike a better balance between the needs of people and nature. The Ammanoffice researched the use of double flush toilets and water-saving gardening techniques as two ways that the public inJordan can better manage their water consumption.
These campaign materials, including brochures, stickers, and power point presentations give background information and useful tips to help Jordanians conserve water in their gardens and lavatories.
The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation and the Osprey Foundation.
Invitation to Chris Hammer lecture in Haifa University
Chris Hammer, a well-known Australian journalist and an expert author, published a book entitled “The River” in 2010. In his book, Hammer discusses the innovative strategies employed by the Australian government agencies to rehabilitate theMurrayDarlingBasin inAustralia. The pioneering approach to water management of the Murray Darling Basin in Australia has been recognized the world over as a best practice in river rehabilitation, and can serve as a model to decision makers in the region towards the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River.
FoEME through the support of the Australian Government has invited Mr. Hammer for a tour of the region and a series of presentations with high level officials in Jordan, Palestineand Israel. A public presentation will be held in the Haifa University on Wednesday, March 21st. All are invited! Click here for more details.
“Last Call at the Oasis” screening at the World Water Forum – Marseilles, France
For any of our readers who might be attending the World Water Forum in Marseilles, France, you are invited to a special screening on March 13th of the film “Last Call at the Oasis“, produced by Participant Media (the same production company that produced Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”), a documentary that illuminates the vital role water plays in our lives, exposes the defects in the current system and shows communities already struggling with its ill-effects and individuals championing revolutionary solutions.
FoEME’s work on the region’s shared water resources is featured in this film. Click here for details of the screening.