Municipal staff from communities in the Jordan Valley will have all the knowledge and skills they need to plot, evaluate and act upon environmental hazards – particularly those affecting groundwater – after a GIS and hydrogeology training course held recently.
In the lush surrounds of the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark, 7 municipal staff members spent Saturday, December 8 honing their skills during a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course with staff from Friends of the Earth Middle East’s (FoEME) Amman office, an expert geohydrology trainer and a GIS specialist.
FoEME Amman Protecting Groundwater Project Manager Baha Afaneh said the course, which was preceded by five training sessions in hazard mapping using a GPS, aimed to give participants a comprehensive understanding of hazard mapping and groundwater pollution.
“The first five sessions were about teaching people to use the GPS, and about the basics for GIS mapping – things like how to plot the coordinates of hazards and then download these coordinates on a map,” Baha said. “These last two sessions focus specifically on hydrogeology and how to use this hazard mapping technology to protect groundwater. We have taught the participants about the make-up of the soil, which enables them to understand the potential impact a hazard might have on the soil and groundwater.”
The process doesn’t end at just understanding the impact of environmental hazards on groundwater, however. With this knowledge, and their newfound skills in devising hazard reduction and prevention (HRP) plans, Baha said the staff involved in the course would be able to develop their own HRP plans for their communities, ensuring the training had lasting effects.
“Our second hydrogeology course, on Thursday, December 13, will give the municipal staff information to be able to devise their own plans of action to protect groundwater from pollution and environmental hazards,” he said.
“This means that the municipalities will be able to rely on these staff having all the knowledge they need to create hazard maps and devise HRP strategies that are suited to their own particular contexts, in order to protect their areas’ groundwater.
“Each of the participating communities will now have experts in GIS and HRP working in the municipalities – it’s a great thing for the communities themselves, and a wonderful thing for FoEME to have these new community leaders to rely upon to help us protect the environment.”
This blog was written by FoEME intern Lauren Salathiel, who is based in the Amman office.