Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | January 5, 2012

FoEME January Environmental Peacemaking Newsletter

Friends of the Earth Middle East wishes all our readers a very Happy New Year!


Youth Camps

December marked the conclusion of a series of Ecobuilding Youth Camps hosted in Sharhabil ben Hassneh Ecopark as part of the Good Water Neighbors project. The youth camps aimed to develop skills that empower youth to build “ecofacilities” which they will construct in their own communities in the coming year, teaching them to reduce their environmental impact while also catering to their needs, and promoting mutually beneficial relationships with all elements of the local ecology.

The series of camps allowed participants to interact with youth from across the region. Youth were able to understand more about their neighboring people and communities and the common challenges they face. Participants also had the chance to learn about FoEME’s rehabilitation and restoration efforts in the Sharhabil ben Hassneh Ecopark and about the problems facing the Jordan River and the Dead Sea and how Sharhabil ben Hassneh Ecopark serves as a model for the region.


Cross border experts meeting – Gilboa and Jenin

A 2-day cross border meeting was held on December 18th – 19th between expert hydrologists, planners and engineers from the Good Water Neighbors communities  Gilboa Regional Council (Israeli) and its neighboring Palestinian community, Jenin. The group toured the Kishon stream; the water resource shared by both communities, and discussed possible models for the rehabilitation of the upper part of the stream. For a case study, they visited the Alexander River, where they learned about similar cross-border stream rehabilitation efforts, and ended with a tour of the Gilboa Regional Council’s Neighbors’ Path.


U.S. Ambassador tour of the Jordan River

On December 20th, FoEME was delighted to have the opportunity to take U.S. Ambassador, Dan Shapiro, on a tour of the Lower Jordan River, and to highlight rehabilitation efforts that have taken place, several of them resulting from the work carried out by the USAID-supported Good Water Neighbors project. The day included a visit to the new Waste Water Treatment plant being built at the Jordan Valley Regional Council, near the Sea of Galilee, which will soon remove pollutants from the River, as well as a visit to the proposed “Jordan River Peace Park”, an initiative supported and endorsed by mayors from the GWN project communities on both sides of the River.

Video clips of the visit can be viewed here:

Cross border meeting – Tsur Hadassah and Wadi Fukin
On December 22nd, FoEME led a “hazard tour” in the vicinity of 4 Palestinian villages of Wadi Fukin, Batir, Hussan & Nahalin. The group of Palestinian mayors and residents, together with activists from the Good Water Neighbors partnering community in Israel, used GPS data to document the status of various environmental threats. Overall, the two main types of hazards that were found were either unauthorized solid waste disposals or sewage spills from the nearby Beitar Elite settlementThe information gathered will be put on a GIS map and will help to establish a database that will support future activities to resolve these environmental hazards.

FoEME presents GWN evaluation methodologies in Washington DC conference

On December 7, Orlee Rabin, Regional Management Coordinator for FoEME, presented a case study of the Good Water Neighbors project monitoring and evaluation strategies at the first ever “Peacebuilding Evaluation Evidence Summit” organized by the Alliance for Peacebuilding and the United States Institute for Peace. The FoEME case study was one of 9 unique projects chosen for in-depth examination to showcase organizations’ most successful efforts at evidence-gathering and evaluation.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA, the Belgium Foreign Ministry’s Peace Building Desk, the EU Partnerships for Peace program, and the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation.

Palestinian Jordan River Media Tour
“Wastewater is Water for Farms! FoEME Palestine Tour” – this tour was part of FoEME Palestine’s first campaign to advance policy that supports the use of wastewater for agriculture. Untreated wastewater represents both a major threat to the health of the Lower Jordan River and a viable alternative source of water for agriculture in Palestine.
Members of FoEME’s Palestinian Jordan River Council and Jordan River Advisory Committee, local citizens, elected officials and news media participated in the tour. Participants visited Palestine’s only modern wastewater treatment plant in Al Bireh and Birzeit University’s wastewater treatment and reuse research facilities.

Regional “Benefits Study” meeting – Jordan River
This month FoEME launched a regional study of the economic benefits associated with rehabilitating the Lower Jordan River. The study, undertaken cooperatively by leading Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli economists will examine the economic benefits that rehabilitation will provide to the regional economies through increased access, recreational benefits, and ecosystem services. In a first regional meeting of the economic consultants the experts agreed on the study’s methodologies and timeline. To read more about this important new study please visit the Economic Benefits Study page on our website or read a blog about the study’s launch.

The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation and the Osprey Foundation.


Ashdod conference and TAP project gathering

FoEME brought together the Palestinian Minister of Water, Dr. Shaddad Attilli, and the Israeli Minister of Environment, Mr. Gilad Erdan, for adiscussion on Israeli / Palestinian shared waters at the Ashdod Sustainability Conference on Tuesday, December 13th. The discussion took place as part of the panel “Cross-Border Waters and Regional Sustainability” moderated by Gidon Bromberg, FoEME’s Israeli Director. This was the first time the Ministers met in Israel publicly to discuss issues in dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, such as water allocation, responsibility for pollution of shared streams, and more.  Read more on our blog

A delegation of 40 Palestinians and Jordanians, residents from our Good Water Neighbors and TAP projects, attended the conference as well. The evening before the conference they met with Palestinian Water Minister Shaddad Attili for an hour-long informal talk in which they raised various issues with the minister and his team.

Following the conference, they visited the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant which treats the wastewater of two million residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. This is the biggest facility of its kind in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world. 80% of the treated water is re-used to irrigate fields in the Negev. The participants concluded the visit with a dinner in Tel Aviv and a quick visit to Bethlehem to enjoy the Christmas holiday atmosphere.

The Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians (TAP) Project is supported by the European Union’s Partnerships for Peace program.

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