From the 15th to the 16th of January, EcoPeace Jordan hosted representatives from the Global Nature Fund (GNF). The GNF are EcoPeace’s German counterpart in the BMZ and Wilo Foundation funded project to install solar panels at the Tal al Mantah wastewater treatment plant and to create a green filter/constructed wetland at the SHE Park.

The visit started with a meeting at EcoPeace Jordan’s office. During this meeting we discussed the general progress of the project as well as future avenues for cooperation.

image001Following this meeting, the GNF were given a tour of the Tal al Mantah treatment plant. They were able to see, in person, the many issues facing the plant as well as hear the history of the plant and listen to the operators’ suggestions to improve its functionality. During the tour, several tankers were being emptied into the plant so we invited one of the tanker drivers to speak to the GNF and give his opinion on the status of the plant and how its operation affects his livelihood.

After this EcoPeace and the GNF took part in a stakeholder meeting with the Mayors ofimg_3293 Deir Alla, Pella, their heads of engineering, representatives from Water Authority of Jordan, a representative Jordan Valley Authority and a representative from the local civil society. This meeting was organized to inform these local stakeholders about the project. We discussed the goals of the project, such as how the GNF and the German government would want to make the treatment plant a model for best practice in Jordan, and how the Green Filter can be used as a decentralized and cost-effective complement to traditional wastewater treatment facilities.

At the conclusion of the meeting the stakeholders showed a great interest in the application of Green Filters in the Jordan valley and expressed their unanimous support and cooperation regarding our project. The visit concluded with a second tour of the Tal al Mantah wastewater treatment plant that included the stakeholders where they could understand the difficulties that the operators are trying to overcome while running it.

img_3266


Contributed by Fadi Kardan, EcoPeace Middle East -Jordan.
Advertisements
Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 3, 2019

EcoPeace’s workshop on ‘Water Security and Environmental Peacebuilding’

(58)From the 10th to the 15th of December, EcoPeace hosted a first of its kind workshop on ‘Middle East Water Security and Environmental Peacebuilding’. Participants from all over the world flew to Jordan to partake in an educational exchange of experiences on the topic of sustainable water use and peacebuilding. The workshop took place at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark, a beautiful ecological park in the north of Jordan where guests can sleep in wooden cabins surrounded by flourishing flowers and wildlife.

            The key subject of the workshop was ‘environmental peacebuilding’, with a focus on the nexus between water management and peacebuilding. This form of promoting peace and stability argues that due to the fact that nature has no borders, environmental cooperation has the opportunity to go beyond political borders promoting dialogue that can establish a level of trust between different communities and break down the barriers that exist in a conflict situation.

            EcoPeace presented its “Good Water Neighbours” (GWN) project that began in 2001 with a focus on shared water resources in the region of Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Water is a highly-contested issue in this region due to the large number of shared water sources  such as, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. These bodies of water are, to various degrees, exploited by all three countries, which divert or pollute them by discharging their untreated or poorly treated sewage into them.  As an example, EcoPeace has estimated that Israel, Jordan and Syria have diverted such large quantities of water from the Jordan and Yarmouk river, that the former has shrunk to 5% of its original flow. One of the consequences of this water policy is the shrinking of the Dead Sea.

Different elements of the GWN project were discussed, all of which aim to create awareness of water scarcity issues and to promote peace and stability in the region. For example one project component involves getting youth involved by organizing regional meetings, summer camps, conferences and workshops about water. Several of the youth that partook in these activities attended the workshop to speak about their experiences.

Another presentation was about the GWN project being a platform for local communities (290)from the three different countries, from farmers to authorities, to communicate and work together. Two local mayors came to speak about their experiences with EcoPeace. One of them spoke about the help that EcoPeace offered by conducting feasibility studies on efficient water distribution in his municipality.

The international participants shared their experiences with water management and environmental peacebuilding in their own context. Two participants from Bosnia- Herzegovina for example, with the help of EcoPeace applied the GWN model to their own region. Their organisation, Centre for Ecology and Energy, used cooperation over water to tackle the political and ethnic tensions that exist over shared water resources in the Balkans. A second organisation from Kurdistan (Iraq), DOVY, talked about their experiences in bringing together Christian, Yazidi and Arab, youth at camps to learn about water issues. A third example is a participant from Nepal, who’s organisation ICIMOD works with eight different countries in South Asia, including India, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. ICIMOD is considering using the GWN model to bring together grassroots organisations and government authorities.

Other organisations shared experiences in environmental work that are new to EcoPeace, such as the Chilean Geute Conservation and Restoration organisation. Geute protects the environment in Chile by providing legal counselling and bringing cases against environmental pollution to national courts. An example they shared was their work on the issue of fish farming, particularly the salmon industry, that pollutes large bodies of water by dumping dead fish. Geute proposed regulation and solutions to this problem in cooperation with other NGOs. Present during the workshop was also the first female marine biologist of Bahrein who with her organisation Inspiring Change and others educates Bahraini youth through educational talks, workshops and educational trips.

Aside from the different lectures and presentations, the group of participants embarked on several sight-seeing trips. They visited the Baptism sight of Jesus in the Jordan River where one of the EcoPeace staff members talked about its deteriorating condition. EcoPeace has incorporated religion into its sustainable water initiatives due to the fact that the water resources in the region have important meaning for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This visit to the baptism site was accompanied by a visit to a Lutheran Church in Jordan’s capital city Amman where a Rabbi, a Sheikh and a Catholic Priest spoke about the importance of safeguarding nature in their respective religions.

Another visit was to the ancient Greek Decapolis city Umm Qais, known for its ancient ruins of Gadara. During the trip the group saw the King Abdullah Canal, which runs parallel to the east bank of the Jordan River and is Jordan’s largest water carrier. The canal receives water from the Yarmouk river. Part of the water also comes from the Sea of Galilee located in Israel, in compliance with the water regime established by the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty.

(720)Although the five day workshop went by fast, the amount of information shared between the participants was of countless value. EcoPeace will incorporate all this information into its future projects, such as its Water Energy Nexus initiative that promotes regional interdependence in the region. Participants also expressed their gratitude and appreciation of the elevating workshop and will keep in touch with EcoPeace about their future endeavors as well as any potential to work together.


Contributed by Desiree Custers - EcoPeace Middle East, Amman office.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 8, 2018

Annual Regional Youth Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp

I had the great pleasure of attending the Annual Regional Youth Girls Water Trustee Empowerment Camp this weekend from the 2nd of august until the 4th of august 2018. The camp was held in the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark and centered around the issue of gender empowerment and environmental friendly behaviour, and was attended by Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli men and women.

38647477_2300165636711701_2670926327569186816_n (1)The first day started off with a dinner, where I noticed that the different nationalities were sitting clearly separated, followed by a general introduction to the daily work of EcoPeace Middle East, and some icebreaking games, where the different nationalities were mixed into smaller groups. It was here interesting to see, how the icebreaking games connected the participants across country borders, and served as a starting point for new interesting conversations.

On the second day, there were a trip to the ruin of the Ajloun Castle in northern Jordan,20180803_122304 were we did some sightseeing while learning about Jordanian history . At first, I could not grasp the theme of the trip to castle, as it seemed to me that people were again separated into their national groups, but as we stood atop the castle the meaning became clear; on a clear day you could see as far as Jerusalem from the castle. The viewpoint atop the castle suddenly represented the three national identities, and it was obvious to the participants, how interconnected the region is from an environmental point of view.

20180803_145019Next we were driven to the Ajloun Oak Forest, where we did an activity I found particularly interesting. The group was divided into cross- border pairs, and then they had to direct their blindfolded partner through a rocky and thorny landscape. It was delightful to see, how some pairs overcome the language barrier between Hebrew and Arabic, and laughed as they walked along the difficult path. As we came back to the starting point, the group was asked to reflect over the activity, where some surprising observations saw its light. A young Palestinian man compared the exercise to a hand, where the different fingers symbolizes the different nationalities, which are all connected to the same hand. They were neither Palestinian, Israeli or Jordanian citizens during the exercise, but only human beings, who sought to cooperate over finding the right path.

I furthermore noticed that during the reflection session, almost no one was sitting in their national group, but chose to sit close to their partner, which showed a clear sign of the objective of the exercise as social coherence and solidarity within the group.

Afterwards, the group was asked to sit in their national groups, to discuss gender mainstreaming in each country, followed by a short presentation of their discussion. The Israeli group highlighted the gap between men and women in the educational system, and the pressure of conservative and orthodox religions on women in the public sphere. 20180803_150505The Palestinians referred to especially the 2000 intifada (Arabic for rebellion) against the Israeli occupation, where many men died in the uprising, leaving the woman as the leader of the household. This made the woman more independent, as the Palestinian society here realized that the woman could act as the leader of the household, and deal with tasks, which were normally meant for men. Nevertheless, the Palestinian also highlighted the need for more governmental policies, as it is difficult for a woman to be a stakeholder in the Palestinian system, and furthermore, the need for a change in the belief system of women, as many women believe they cannot perform certain tasks typically associated with men. And lastly, the Jordanian group focused on the lack of possibilities for women in the educational system, as well as the daily harassment of women in the public sphere. Additionally, this group put the question of responsibility forward, and asked the different groups to reflect upon the responsibility of men and women in society, and how men could help to empower women in the societal sphere.

When we were back in the SHE EcoPark we heard three short presentations on female empowerment, with the Palestinian Amira Adnan Musallam on her peace activism and environmental work, the Israeli-Palestinian Zubaida Ezery on her project on grey water systems in Bedouin communities, and the Jordanian Derar Al-Muhasen on his volunteer experiences as a leader in his local community. The different speakers talked from their personal experiences with empowerment and peace, and the group was left thoughtful and quite solemn at the end of the different presentations.

The evening ended with a “Hafla”, Arabic for a get-together, a party, over good music and a bonfire. The group here shared traditional dancing, smoked shisha, as well as talked and laughed late into the evening. A subject of interest to all was the relatedness of the languages of Arabic and Hebrew, and as the night grew thicker, it was clear that friendships were created across borders.

The last day consisted of a short tour of the EcoPark, followed by two lectures from firstly project coordinator from the Palestinian EcoPeace, Mahmud Driaat, who gave a talk on the importance of women in sustainable water management. One of his main points were here that women were essential to include in decision-making on water issues, as they were often the ones handling the water. This presentation was followed by a presentation from the Israeli EcoPeace coordinator Dr. Shlomit Tamari, who talked about the importance of women in public spaces. She here highlighted the overall gender mainstreaming in the world, as well as the correlation between water shortage and violence, where women are the first to be harmed.

38506617_2300165983378333_3514554077411278848_nThe session ended with a reflection on the regional environmental cooperation, where the group discussed gender realities in their different countries, environmental challenges and empowerment. There was here a heated discussion of the effects of either top-down or bottom-up peace initiatives that I found quite intriguing, as well as the agreement among the Palestinians that peace and co-existence is the way forward. To which an Israeli man said: “if we all take our own share of the water, without thinking about our common responsibility, there will be no future for either of us”.

On this matter, all the participants agreed. Without regional cooperation over water issues, and responsible consumption of water, their future would indeed look dark. For me, this was an intriguing new form of peacebuilding, as after all, water knows no borders.

 


This article contributed by Miriam Jensen, EcoPece Middle East - Amman.
Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 5, 2018

August 2018 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacebuilding Newsletter

Announcement: Appointment of New Jordanian Director

Munqeth

EcoPeace’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Yana Abu Taleb as the new Jordanian Director of the organization, effective the 1st of August 2018. The board has expressed its gratitude to Munqeth Mehyar for his decades of leadership and is delighted that Mr. Mehyar has accepted the title of President.

Upon her appointment, Ms. Abu Taleb stated: “My commitment to EcoPeace Middle East is due to my deep understanding of the challenges the region faces and the unique role the organization plays in meeting those challenges”.

Mr. Mehyar added “I am proud to pass on the leadership of the Jordanian office to Ms. Abu Taleb who has proven herself as an effective leader through her many years with the organization. I am delighted to move to my new role advising the board and the three directors.”  

Please join us in thanking Munqeth for his years of dedication and wishing Yana all the best in her new role.


PLEASE CONSIDER APPLYING: WATER SECURITY WORKSHOP

EcoPeace will hold the first of its kind Workshop on Middle East Water Security and Environmental Peacebuilding, which will take place from 10 to 15 December in Jordan, with the possibility to continue on a 2 day trip in Israel/Palestine, on 16-17 December. Participation is open to civil society organizations, especially those working in conflict areas, and limited space is also available for individuals from academia, think tanks, development agencies and foundations interested in our unique methodology. Civil society organizations coming from conflict areas may be eligible for financial support. The workshop will create opportunities for an exchange of experiences and capacity building and will allow participants to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and best practices of environmental peacebuilding with a special focus on fostering dialogue and cooperation on the protection, equitable and sustainable use of water and environmental resources.

Apply soon, Space is limited. Visit our website for more information.

The EcoPeace Program on Water Security is supported by the Bosch Foundation

Annual Regional Female Watershed Forum Training

Big JumpJordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian men and women came together for a workshop from July 12-14th at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark to encourage and support women to continue to take a greater role in decision-making within the water and sanitation sectors. The participants bonded through group discussions about the water problems they faced, including their many similarities. The group was later treated to several “success stories” from Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian women who were already taking leadership roles and making a difference in their communities and served as inspirational examples.


Symposium on Regional Cooperation on Reclaimed Water

On July 18th, EcoPeace held an Israeli – Palestinian symposium on the “Centralization vsWater symposium Decentralization of Waste Water Reuse” at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Participants included officials, experts, entrepreneurs and farmers from Israel and Palestine. The focus of the event was to illustrate ways in which Israel and Palestine need to cooperate to solve shared sanitation and water problems.

 


Dead Sea Site Visit – Ecotourism Workshop, Jordan

Dead Sea workshopThis workshop on ecotourism, held July 19th-21st, assessed avenues for incorporating ecotourism into several industries and offered inspiration and advice for those seeking to enter the field. The workshop began with instructive presentations on the Dead Sea, and then participants got to experience several ongoing operations in the Dead Sea area. Some highlights of the trip included fair-trade artisanal products; a farm-to-table assembly; an organic moringa farm; and a tour of Dana Village, and the story of how the introduction of ecotourism revitalized the entire community. The benefits and challenges unique to ecotourism were discussed at each of the sites.


Farmers Training

In cooperation with MASHAV—Israel International Aid Agency, EcoPeace conducted twoFarmers training farmers’ trainings. In these trainings farmers all across the West Bank came to learn about opportunities they might have on wastewater reuse for irrigation. These trainings were led by instructors from Israel’s extension service and local Arabic-speaking farmers.

 

 


Hebron Governorate Meetings

Hebron meetingEcoPeace organized a steering committee meeting for the purpose of coordinating a group of town hall meetings in Hebron governorate and prepared the agenda of the next town hall meeting in Yatta to reach out to all stakeholders. EcoPeace communicated with PWA, EQA, MOA and MOH and shared the draft plan for the upcoming meetings to present the PA point of view.

The Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza. Activities conducted in Hebron/Negev/Basin are additionally supported by the Government of Canada.


Jericho Governorate

EcoPeace conducted a very successful set of meetings in Jericho. A meeting with theJericho meeting Governor of Jericho and his advisory team discussed the importance of the Jordan Valley Master Plan for Palestine. EcoPeace visited the Jericho Agricultural and Industrial Park (JAIP) and had a very successful meeting with the relevant authority PIEFZA. EcoPeace presented the Jordan Valley Master Plan and the Water Energy Nexus Projects, and PIEFZA showcased the JAIP progress and the next phases.


Round Table Meeting on the 4th of July in Jordan

In cooperation with the South Ghour Governorate and the Alliance of Charitable South Ghor meetingFoundations, EcoPeace Jordan organized a Round Table in South Ghour. The event was attended by the local community representatives and the Secretary General of WAJ and his team. The aim of the meeting was to listen and receive feedback from residents in relation to water issues facing their communities. It was agreed during the meeting that the priority for South Ghour is to plan and implement sanitation solutions. After the meeting, the delegation from WAJ toured the desalination plant of Ghour Safi and the pumping station at Ghour Haditha. The tour concluded by visiting locals at their homes to ensure that they have access to water supply.


Tour to Key Environmental Projects in the Jordan Valley

Jordan Valley projectsOn July 25-26, EcoPeace Jordan office organized a follow-up event to the town hall meeting from earlier this year to visit key environmental developments in the north of Jordan. The tour was attended by 41 mayors, stakeholders and members of government authorities. The tour included a visit to the Al Samra wastewater treatment plant, Akaider dumpsite, Al Husseiniat composting factory, Zai Water Treatment Unit, and paper recycling sites. The tour culminated by signing a call for the creation of a Trust Fund in support of the Jordan Valley Master Plan and the identified priorities.


Decoupling Water Resources in the Middle East

EcoPeace participated in the launch meeting for a research project in partnership with Oxford University and the WANA Institute. This research initiative in the Jordan Valley investigates water use efficiency in agriculture in Israel and Jordan and aims to build on the region’s progress.  

The Jordan River Rehabilitation project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida)

 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 24, 2018

The Annual Regional Female Watershed Forum Training

On the 2nd week of July, EcoPeace held the Annual Regional Female Watershed Forum Training and I had the pleasure to take part as a “reporter”. The event gathered Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli with theme of advancing the role for women in environmental cooperation, shared water and sanitation projects of common concern.


Bedouin Women x Water

DSCN6751.JPG

Enter a Salim Al-Karmi shares his research with Fertile Crescent Association on Bedouin community in Area C of Palestine.

In a presentation by Salim Al-Karmi, we were introduced to his research with the Fertile Crescent Association on the Bedouin population who are not connected to water network in Area C, Palestine. What was specifically brought about was gender role in relation to water in the Bedouin households. While women in families are clear of the actual consumption of water and know exactly what should be done, it is men, in Bedouin tradition, who make decisions. Being left out from decision-making at household level, the women, however, decided to come together and start doing smart things collectively, such as organising among themselves to store and exchange clean water, as well as reusing water. Following up the presentation was a discussion on whether the Bedouin religious way of women getting water and socialising should be replaced by technology. One thing is clear: Women should be brought to the middle of discussion so that everyone, despite their gender, can work together, make decisions and solve problems in a smart way.


 6 Women x Action

Another major component of the 3-day cross-border event was the sharing of 6 women

DSCN6719

At the open plaza at SHE Park, friends from Jordan, Palestine and Israel gather and are intrigued by different speakers from across the borders. Sharings are always translated between Arabic and Hebrew by Zubaida (standing on the right).

from Jordan, Palestine and Israel on their experience and vision. “If something bothers you, don’t sit on the couch — do something!” said Sarit Oked, one of the speaker in the event. This quote to me has powerfully summarised the 6 sharings from the women of different regions who are facing and acting upon different problems and challenges.

While Kawther Al-Edwan, being the president of a Jordanian charity and the 1st woman in her community to work, introduced her organisation’s mission in improving livelihoods of Jordanian women in various difficult situations; Aseer Gawarneh, from Palestinian Rural Women Association, showed us how women in communities are equipped with skills such as making handicrafts.

Yonat Mordoch, recounted her delightful and adventurous experience of turning away from biology studies to learning from Bedouin’s traditional in medicine and passing on the wisdom through her soap-making business in Israel; whereas Manar Madanat, the southern region director of the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities, spoke with us her passionate work-in-progress with fighting for the rights of disabled persons in Jordan, and encouraged an involvement of deaf and speech-impaired people and sign language interpreters in this event.

IMG_1389

Friends from the floor actively respond to the sharing on stage and bring different perspectives to the table.

Journalist Maha Abu Ein stirred a couple of conversations on women’s roles and possibilities in Palestine, and showed us her critical documentary titled “Struggle of Palestinian Farmers”; Sarit Oked, on the other hand, shared her voluntary projects, one on founding a democratic school where children are the decision-makers of their own learning, another one on standing up against phosphate industry’s deadly emission in Arad, Israel. Fighting for the rights of the underrepresented groups, passing on the otherwise overlooked traditions with creative crafts & business, and equipping particular communities with specific skills and knowledge, are a few of the strategies and actions of empowerment that are inspiringly demonstrated by the speakers.


Site Tour x Water Infrastructure

DSCN6737

Solid waste washed down to King Abdullah Canal in Al Masharaa at Jordan Valley.

Site-tours were conducted along the Jordan Valley, where problems of water sanitation and lack of proper infrastructure network were not merely told as distant issues but materialised in front of us as we got to the ground and walked through the rural fabric. Visits along the Jordan Valley – through the 150,000-people population Al Masharaa community, where grey water is released to canal and sewage flushed to cesspits; then to Tal Al Mantah Waste Water Treatment Plant, where water treatment work is still to be upgraded; and to Karameh Dam, where fresh water is stored but lost significantly by evaporation – have shown to us that water infrastructure, from grey

DSCN6764

We stand beside the Karameh Dam under the burning sun, visualising how a significant volume of fresh water in the dam are evaporating to the open air.

water and sewage collection network to waste water treatment and efficient storage, are urgently important yet lacking. What adds to the severity of problem in clean water access is the missing of a sound solid waste management system and awareness, causing a contamination of surface water and underground water by waste dumping.

 


More Dialogues & Sharing

The discussion and feedback session on the final day have inspiringly concluded the event. It is important to include all stakeholders’ voices in decision-making discussion.

IMG_1504

Participants from Jordan, Palestine and Israel share their personal experiences and viewpoints on water & gender issues in their community.

If anyone is left outside, the result is that either people leave, or people’s needs stay answered. One recurring comment from different friends in the event has been on connecting people. People on different sides – from Jordan, Palestine and Israel –  should get together beyond an annual event and beyond borders. Rather than point fingers at each other, we should – and could –  identify and understand common problems, stand up together to raise awareness, get our voices heard – and act together.

Participants from Jordan, Palestine and Israel share their personal experiences and viewpoints on water & gender issues in their community. The Jordanian community express a concern over kids and adults suffering from kidney diseases because of unclean water; those from Palestinian community describe how women have to carry water all the way from edge of town back home and a severe contamination of upstream water by uncontrolled grey water disposal and solid waste; and some from the Israeli community points out that desalinated water lacks the mineral and nutrients for healthy crops. Furthermore, climate change is impacting all the farming communities in the region and “hit us in our face” in the past 10 years.

A picture i would like to share with you,

IMG_1844

Standing at a forest where solid wastes are dumped on the ground, we conclude the 3-day event: some express honestly the need for a deeper & comprehensive address on the issues of women and water, some call for the forming of long lasting relationship for an exchange of problems and solutions, and some critically point out actual actions to be undertaken following up the dialogues in the event.


This article contributed by Mandy Mui, EcoPeace Middle East - Amman.
DSCN6577

Jordanian and Israeli farmers get to know one another during the opening round of introductions at the EcoPark

From June 28-30th Jordanian and Israeli farmers met for a cross-border workshop to learn more about biodynamic agriculture and to discuss some of the common challenges facing farmers in the Jordan Valley on both sides of the border. As a new intern for EcoPeace, this was my first time being in the Jordan Valley and it was a far cry from the water abundant fields in my home of Ohio, USA. I was excited to learn more about the environmental challenges specific to this area and to meet new people.

The workshop began with dinner and introductions at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark, breaking into small circles of mixed groups which created a personalized atmosphere for the attendees to get to know each other. I really enjoyed seeing the cultural exchange that occurred as the farmers traded jokes and stories with each other in three different languages—Arabic, English, and Hebrew—often jumping between them in the same sentence. Participants also discussed why they chose to take part in the workshop. They included reasons such as to meet people from a different culture that still share the same career and goals, to learn more about biodynamics, and to make new connections that could be used to work together in the future.

The next morning, the group took a site tour of area grape, citrus, pomegranate, and dateIMG_0820 farms and analyzed the different soil types and irrigation methods at each one. Water was the theme of the morning as farmers yearned to know the most efficient way to get healthy plants for the least amount of expensive water. However, after digging into the dirt at each of the farms, we found that using water and fertilizer on the greater area surrounding the plant was important to its overall health, and skimping too much on water use would ultimately result in harmful effects long-term. The ideal soil would have a high water-holding quality. As a geology student, I appreciated getting our hands dirty and digging into the dirt to check out the health of the soil. It was interesting to visually see how the soil in two farms neighboring each other could significantly differ based on the irrigation methods used by the farmer that contributed to the general health of the soil.

DSCN6658

The site tours continued to a date farm down the road

Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic approach that seeks to improve the health and output of crops by implementing techniques that work in harmony with the already occurring natural processes. It recognizes the inherent connection between water, nutrients, sunlight and soil to plant health, and how all the parts must work together to be effective. It also stresses the importance of working with the community and buying produce locally on the consumer’s end. This was my first interaction with the idea of biodynamics, but I was able to see the importance of working in harmony with the environment and not “against” it, especially in a climatically harsh area like the Jordan Valley.

Being on-the-ground in these places allowed me to personally observe the intense water scarcity and hear each farmer describe their struggle, which gave me tangible evidence for the environmental issues I had only read about up to that point; it was a chance for me to formally encounter what I had been researching. The farmers participating in the workshop had a lot of knowledge to contribute, and each shared their experiences and farming techniques, and resulted in the farmers learning from each other just as much as they learned from the presenter.

DSCN6668

A formal presentation about biodynamic agriculture followed the morning farm tours

That trip led to a series of informative presentations on biodynamics, where farmers learned more about the concept and generated ideas for implementation. The workshop concluded with small group discussions where participants worked together to come up with solutions for their soil, water, and marketing problems. At the very least, participants gained the realization that many of the problems they faced were happening at a systematic level, and they were not the only one having to deal with it. Joining in on this workshop not only taught me more about biodynamics, but I got a chance to meet so many inspiring people from across the Jordan Valley.


This article contributed by Nicole Pasho, EcoPeace Middle East - Amman.

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | July 16, 2018

Big Jump for The Jordan River

From the lowest point on earth, EcoPeace Middle East and peacemaker environmentalists from Jordan, Palestine and Israel took the opportunity to express their love and desire to protect and rehabilitate the lower Jordan River.

20180714_113148

The mighty Jordan River is no longer what it was sixty years ago, especially the lower part of the Jordan River which is considered a trans-boundary river crossing Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine. The lack of political maturity and wisdom between the neighboring countries caused catastrophic actions on the environment and water resources in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine. This crystallized in the end to become a “damming competition” with water diversions between the riparian countries on every Wadi, stream and tributary in this unique ecosystem.

Big Jump is an initiative of the European Rivers Network that supports efforts to bring life back to Europe’s Rivers, but supporting the Jordan River should be a case for everyone everywhere. A river deep with Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions requires a true stand from decisionmakers on a regional and international level. In doing so, EcoPeace Middle East invites you to support our regional efforts toward a long-lasting peace between the nations and among the various traditions and beliefs.

Big jump this year took place in Wadi Ziglab at Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark, Jordan. Wadi Ziglab was an important tributary for the Lower Jordan River during the winter, but as water scarcity and population growth exponentially increased in Jordan, the Wadi was dammed in early 1960s to provide water for farmers and domestic use. This is one story of many of the Jordan River’s Wadis, streams and tributaries.


This article contributed by Eshak S. Al Guza'a, EcoPeace Middle East - Amman.

Dear Friends,

EcoPeace Middle East continues to be alarmed by the deteriorating circumstances in and around Gaza including the humanitarian energy and water crisis. We have conducted countless interviews, led site visits and held meetings with officials from all sides to express our concerns and call to find solutions. Please look out for a new report on the Gaza Crisis to be released next month and share it widely on social media.


Invitation to the Symposium on Regional Cooperation on Reclaimed Water

SymposiumEcoPeace Middle East cordially invites you to attend a Symposium on Regional Cooperation on Reclaimed Water. The conference will be held on July 18, 2018, at the Handler Auditorium in the Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus Campus from 09:00-13:30. The event will bring together Israeli and Palestinian decision makers, experts and professionals from the private and public sectors from the fields of wastewater treatment and reuse of treated wastewater. The conference will discuss centralized and decentralized wastewater treatment models and reuse opportunities, issues of public health, economy and shared environment. The seminar will be conducted in Hebrew and Arabic with simultaneous translation to English. Space is limited, please register at this link. For more information: nadav@ecopeaceme.org.  A light lunch will be served at the end of the event.

This event is organized with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).


EcoPeace presents at the First Palestine International Water Forum 2018

EcoPeace Palestinian co-director Nada Majdalani presented at the First Palestine Palestine Water ForumInternational Water Forum in June. This year’s cross-cutting theme was “Integrated Water Resources and Management: Best Practices and Technology Transfer.” The Water-Energy-Food Nexus was one of the key topics of the event, in which Nada presented “A Prefeasibility Study on Water and Renewable Energy Exchange in the Middle East.” The conference brought together contributors from the Arab Region and the international community to discuss the lessons learnt and explore innovative perspectives beyond current IWRM practices.  


EcoPeace presents at CleanTech 2018

CleanTech

On the 26th of June, Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Israeli co-director spoke at Israel’s 2018 CleanTech Conference in Tel Aviv. The conference brought together the who’s who of Israel’s water sector under the theme: ‘The Water Crisis: Causes and Responses.’ Gidon presented a regional perspective to the water crisis, highlighting EcoPeace’s Water Energy Exchange program as an opportunity to promote water and energy security and regional stability.

EcoPeace’s work in the the Water Energy Exchange is conducted in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


Good Water Neighbors End-of-School-Year Tours

GWN end of school toursAcross all of our basins EcoPeace GWN staff led Neighbors Path tours along their basins. Nadav Tal, EcoPeace’s hydrologist, conducted his school year’s final tours with Ramot Yam and Ben Gurion High Schools along the Alexander/Zomer River Basin. Here, at the mouth of the river before it flows in to the Mediterranean Seam the students researched and uncovered shared environmental hazards they face, and through waste found, told the present sad story of the river.


Cross Border Israeli / Jordanian Agriculture Workshop

Agriculture workshopEcoPeace conducted a very unique workshop last weekend in Jordan on “Bio Dynamics” agriculture for Israeli and Jordanian farmers. Bio Dynamic agriculture is a type of sustainable farming; connecting together water – soil – plant – animals – environment and community, to produce better products for the farmers.  This kind of thinking goes hand in hand with EcoPeace’s objectives and values. The workshop focused on the Jordan Valley area and examined ways to think ‘out of the box’ regarding sustainable farming for the benefit of all the people of the area.


Good Water Neighbors in Bosnia: Continuing Successes

June 2018 marked the one year anniversary of a new phase of the GWN projectGWN Bosnia implementation between cross-border communities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republika Sprska. The Centar za Ekologiju i Energiju (CEE) partnered with EcoPeace’s Program for Water Security, an initiative to promote the effective combination of grassroots and top-down methodology to foster peace and regional cooperation via shared natural resources. A Coordination Team was created composed of 8 project leaders in schools and 6 representatives of municipalities.  The team worked together to identify projects in cooperation with students, teachers and school management. Together, they highlighted components of the shared environmental heritage of the Spreca River, fostering inter-community cooperation and the creation of a common path to improvements. Across all schools in the municipalities, students created photo exhibits of both the natural beauties and environmental problems that face the Spreca River.

The Bosch Foundation supports the work of the Centar za Ekologiju i Energiju (CEE).


EcoPeace at Water Sustainable Development in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Mahmud, TajikistanEcoPeace GWN staff Mahmud Driaat from Palestine was invited by the World Bank Office in Tajikistan to attend and speak at the High Level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 19-21 June 2018. Mahmud spoke at the “Young Water Professionals” side event at the conference, where he presented EcoPeace’s work, strategy, vision, and mission to a group of young activists and leaders from countries in Central Asia, Europe, and MENA. Mahmud was widely interviewed about his background and the Good Water Neighbors project and learned about, and networked with, numerous organizations working with youth in Central Asia.

The Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza. Activities conducted in Hebron/Negev/Basin are additionally supported by the Government of Canada.


EcoPeace Networks at the New Shape Forum in Stockholm

At the end of May, EcoPeace’s Israeli Deputy Director Dalit Wolf-Golan participated in theNew Shape Forum New Shape Forum in Stockholm hosted by the Global Challenges Foundation. The conference brought practicable, real solutions to reshape global cooperation to better tackle global-catastrophic risks from around the world. This was an opportunity for EcoPeace to network and share our experience on regional cooperation and the type of governance models we have developed. Notable policy-makers in global governance and cooperation and leading academics, among others, came together for two intense days of creative workshops and discussions to examine what the future of global governance could look like.


Tibetan President Signs Jordan River Covenant

Tibet PresidentThe EcoPeace Tel Aviv office had the privilege to host H.E. Lobsang Sangay, Tibetan President-in-Exile, for a visit to the lowest place on earth, at the Jordan River and Dead Sea. EcoPeace and the Tibetan President discussed the challenges faced in advancing regional cooperation in the Middle East and the challenges faced by Third Pole countries, China, Tibet, and India, due to climate change. Not surprisingly, though the circumstances could not be more different between the lowest place on earth and the highest place on earth, the sharing of lessons, methodology, and best practices could be beneficial to all sides. President Lobsang Sangay used the occasion to sign EcoPeace’s covenant for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River as shown in the picture. EcoPeace invites religious institutions and communities of all faiths to learn about the state of the Jordan River and engage in helping towards it rehabilitation by utilizing materials freely available on our website.


Solar Installations in SHE EcoPark

SHE

In an effort to help tackle environmental and energy challenges facing Jordan and the region, the SHE EcoPark in Jordan has installed a small solar energy park. As an EcoPark that models sustainability, SHE employs solar cooking, grey water reuse, biogas generation, composting and trash recycling. To reduce reliance on energy from fossil fuels, the EcoPark installed a small PV solar energy system (5 kilowatt). As a result of this solar power installation SHE EcoPark will now have coverage of 92% of its current electricity needs satisfied from renewable energy sources, leading to better environmental sustainability and financial sustainability.

A special thank you to the Manna Foundation for the support given.


 

Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 15, 2018

Sderot

Sderot the Neighboring City to Gaza

In my first week as an intern in the Tel Aviv office of EcoPeace Middle East, I was invited by EcoPeace Negev Community Coordinator Dr. Shlomit Tamari, to visit the area around Sderot, with two fellow interns. Sderot is an Israeli town located at the northern border with Gaza Strip. This trip shed light onto the region’s rich history, alongside a hopeful future.

001As we drove down a dusty road towards an old sulphur factory, Shlomit explained these roads and scattered ruins date back to the British Mandate. We were met by Rami Haruvi, an environment and cultural heritage programme planner, who had grown up his whole life there. He prefixed his talk on what the British left behind and their influence today – for instance, pointing in the nearby distance to Gaza, Rami explained that the refugee camps share the same names as the army camps dating back from the British Mandate.

Rami continued by sketching a map of the region in the sand, taking us on a journey of002 its ecological history. Casting our minds back much before humankind to 5 million years ago, Rami explained the expansive change that has taken place. From the flooding of the Strait of Gibraltar to the land drying up to form a salt lake, a rich, often unmentioned past was being shared. As our journey progressed through history, we learnt that the Gaza region acted as a vital trade junction for thousands of years. Complex trade routes crossed through Gaza, providing frankincense and myrrh to the Roman Empire from Somalia, Oman and Yemen. With the domestication of the camel, Gaza’s attractive environment helped contribute to connecting the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. Centred between arid and settled areas, Gaza provided an ideal junction to Europe, with characteristics ideal for sustenance and survival.

As the tour progressed around the sulphur factory, Rami explained how his hope was to repurpose this abandoned building as a visitor’s centre for people from Israel and around the world as a ‘lighthouse of the consciousness of Gaza’. By educating people about the region’s ecological foundations, rich history and Gaza Strip’s current struggle for electricity and water, Rami hopes for people to join in sharing ideas on how to help the region’s future alongside pressurise governments to act.

Currently the Gaza Strip suffers a dire humanitarian crisis, suffering from poor water quality and a lack of electricity. The consequences of this have the potential to be extremely devastating, with unsafe sanitary conditions and a lack of access to clean water for domestic use contributing to an increasingly urgent public health threat and possible risk of cholera, among other pandemic diseases spreading.

Whilst Gaza’s coastal aquifer suffers from extreme overuse, seawater intrusion and contamination by raw sewage, this is reflective of a much wider issue. Water and sanitation problems are not confined within the borders of the Gaza Strip but are experienced across the region. With climate change and population growth, the availability of clean and safe drinking water consistently reduces. In the last decade Israel has faced the water crisis by developing desalinisation, alongside using efficient conservation techniques such as recycling wastewater for agricultural purposes. As Rami said, by creating water, one creates possibility.

003In the near distance, the aftermath of a kite bomb from Gaza the day before could be seen. On the same day, ‘Stars of Hope’ were put up here against some old railings. The stars were individually decorated by children from the USA, with messages of peace, hope and solidarity. Whilst the border separates people and their degrees of human suffering, Gaza and Sderot still share the same wind, water and land, the same ecological history and the same environmental challenges.

Our visit finished by eating lunch across from the ‘path to peace’ wall, a section of the 004wall which divides the Gaza Strip and Israel. Visitors continue to collaboratively decorate this concrete block with brightly coloured mosaics to form a peace wall. Surrounded by barbed wire and what appears to be a bleak future, this wall illustrates the power of hope and optimism. Words like forgiveness, peace, love and tolerance cover this wall, helping fuel a positive forward-thinking mindset towards eventual peace. Taking a primarily humanitarian perspective, rather than political or religious, allows for much hope and change in the future.


 

Written by Sarah Smith - sarah97@live.co.uk - EcoPeace Middle East \ Tel Aviv
Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | June 11, 2018

June 2018 – EcoPeace Middle East Environmental Peacebuilding Newsletter

 

EcoPeace at EBRD 27th Annual meeting

Jordan 2018EcoPeace Middle East, represented by its Jordanian co-director Mr. Munqeth Mehyar, Deputy Director Ms. Yana Abu Taleb and the Water Energy Nexus project coordinator Mr. Mohammad Bundokji attended the 27th annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) held in Jordan on the 9th and the 10th of May 2018. The main theme of the meeting was “Energizing Economies” and EcoPeace was present to promote its Water Renewable Energy Nexus Project as an example of an initiative that can energize the economies of the region as a whole, in a manner that creates healthy interdependencies.


Diplomat Tour “Gaza on the Edge”

Diplomats TourOn May 28th, EcoPeace in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung held the “Gaza on the Edge” study tour of the Israeli areas neighboring the Gaza Strip for representatives from the diplomatic and international community. The tour aimed to see first hand the cross border water and sanitation issues and better understand the challenges faced by all sides. Participants had the opportunity to here from experts, such as Professor Shaul Mishal talk about Hamas and the Mayor of Hoh Ashkelon, Yair Farjun speak from the community perspective. Take home messages included the urgency to solve the Gaza water and sanitation crisis and a clear understanding that it is impossible to disengage from a shared environment.


Hebron Basin Town Hall Meeting

Hebron Basin Town Hall MeetingOn the 10th of May, EcoPeace organized a town hall meeting under the Auspices of Halhul Municipality discussing ‘Water and Sanitation in Halhul: between Reality and Challenges’, which was attended by 100 residents and representatives of associations. Mr. Hijazi Mereb – Mayor of Halhul, presented the current status of water and sanitation issues in Halhul, plans for establishing the Water Sector Regulatory Joint Council for the area, and potential cooperation with EcoPeace. Nada Majdalani, Palestine’s Director spoke about EcoPeace’s objectives of improving the lives of residents through water and sanitation solutions. Technical presentations were provided by the Halhul municipality, Ministry of Health, and on gender issues related to water and saitation. The conclusion was that more discussions were needed.


Exhibit: “Lighthouse to the Consciousness of Gaza”

Every time Gaza is in the headlines, dozens of Israelis come together to strengthen theExhibit to the Consciousness of Gaza residents of the Gaza Envelope and to call for the end of violence.  In cooperation with Sapir College EcoPeace is involved in preparing an exhibit called the “The Lighthouse to the Consciousness of Gaza” (Ha’Migdalor). EcoPeace’s part of this exhibit will explain the collapse of the water and sewage systems in Gaza and the implications for public health and water security, region wide.


EcoPeace in Chicago and New York

At the invitation of Northwestern University to the United States, EcoPeace co-Directors Munqeth Mehyar and Gidon Bromberg held a set of events and meetings in Chicago and New York city. The highlight was the Third Annual Symposium on “Water in Israel and the Middle East” organized by Northwestern Center for Water Research and the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies where presentations were made on our water and renewable energy exchange and water diplomacy issues with a focus on the crises of Gaza. Other meetings were held with our International Advisory Committee and organizations interested in partnering with EcoPeace to solve our critical water and environment issues.


Youth Water Trustee Tours Take Place Across the Region

Wadi Qana Nature Reserve

Three educational tours this month took place to Wadi Qana nature reserve highlighting the challenges faced by Palestinian local farmers and residents due to political restrictions placed on them and a drying environment. Youth water trustees from Baqa Al-Sharqya, Jericho, Auja, and Dirstia visited the reserve and the Direstia old town. EcoPeace community coordinators led the tours accompanied by the mayor of the Dirstia municipality.

Yarkon and Jordan River Basins

Yarkon and Jordan River BasinsYouth water trustees from high schools in Tel Aviv toured the Yarkon River Basin Neighbor’s Path. They witnessed the serious water quality and quantity issues facing the river and discussed the crossborder issues of the basin including the state of water shortage and pollution issues on the Palestinian side of the basin. Another group of Youth Water Trustees from the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee ended their school year with a tour and discussion on the real-time impacts of climate change on the drying lake and the reversal of Israel’s national water carrier as a response.


Cross Border Camp – Jordanian/Israeli

Cross-Border CampEarly in May, Youth Water Trustees from Jordan and Israel participated in a cross border camp at Sharhabil Bin Hasnah EcoPark in Jordan. Youth were divided into mixed groups and taken to the North Shouneh, Sheikh Hussein, and Al Mashara’a districts where they saw firsthand the water supply and sanitation challenges faced by residents. Upon returning to the park, the students engaged in discussions on the difficulties Jordan in particular faces but also the common challenges faced across the region and their role as water trustees to help solve these challenges.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and USAID CMM West Bank / Gaza. Activities conducted in Hebron/Negev/Basin additionally are supported by the Government of Canada.

Older Posts »

Categories