Friends of the Earth Middle East’s “Good Water Neighbors project” was one of 10 educational projects chosen to present its activities at the “First Sachnin-Oranim Conference for Education for Tolerance and Coexistence”. The conference took place in the Arab Israeli city of Sachnin on December 14th with keynote speaker Avraham Burg, speaking about the role of education to further tolerance and co-existence.

FoEME representatives received good feedback, especially from representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Education who had voted for the project and invited further discussion on the implementation of the Good Water Neighbors project in schools beyond the GWN project communities.

FoEME’s “Good Water Neighbors” project brought together mayors and municipal representatives from the Tamar Regional Council (Israel) and the South Ghors Governorate (Jordan) twice during the month of December, first in Jordan and then in Israel. The delegations visited local ecotourism initiatives and discussed future cooperation on local sustainable agriculture.

Both sides concluded that they are interested in follow up meetings. Cooperation to promote the opening of a new border crossing – at the Southern Dead Sea area – is high on their agenda.

A group of 30 youth “Water Trustees” gathered last week at the Ecological Center in Kibbutz Ein Gedi to construct a geodesic dome. Inspiration for this project came from a similar activity held a year ago in FoEME’s Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan, where a large geodesic dome was erected there, also with involvement of youth. A similar project is being planned for the Environmental Education Center in Auja as well.

These geodesic domes not only teach youth ecological building techniques, but they also provide environmentally-friendly spaces for the many lectures and educational workshops given in each of FoEME’s EcoParks.

Read more on our blog page and view photos of the construction of the dome on FoEME’s Flickr page

In the course of a 3-day conference held by the King’s Academy school in Jordan, the Academy chose to spend one full day at FoEME’s Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark to learn about environmental issues in the region.

FoEME’s Jordanian Deputy Director gave a lecture to the 140 students in attendance about the Jordan Valley area and the need for sustainable development in the region, after which they received a full tour of the Eco Park to see the work being done to return biodiversity and the natural environment to the area.

Ongoing pressure on decision makers by FoEME, together with the City Council of Baka Gharbia, Israel, has successfully concluded in a decision by the Authorities to allow Baka Gharbia to connect to the nearby (existing) Water and Sewage Corporation. This decision comes after Baka Gharbia’s continued efforts that had been rejected time and time again.

A loophole in the water law allowed this situation to be unresolved for more than a year, while in the meantime, raw sewage continued to flow into Wadi Abu Nar, with the city receiving unjust financial penalties. FoEME will work with members of Israel’s Knesset to correct the loophole in the law.

The Good Water Neighbors project is supported by USAID, SIDA and the Belgium Foreign Ministry’s Peace Building Desk.

For the first time ever, the Israeli Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee held a special session on the poor state of the Lower Jordan River. At the session, FoEME highlighted, on the one hand, the large amounts of money being spent on removal of pollutants from the River, as well as the Israeli master plans that are identifying land use and tourism potential of a rehabilitated river, yet on the other hand, the lack of commitment to release fresh water to the River.

The session concluded with the Committee calling for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River to be a project of national priority. It called on the Israeli Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff to place the issue of the Lower Jordan River on its agenda, in order to develop a comprehensive governmental action plan including allocation of resources for the improvement of the water quality in the River. Read more in our press release…

FoEME Tel Aviv petitioned for a larger allocation of water to nature at a Hearing at the Israeli National Water Authority Council on Dec. 14th. As of result of collective pressure, the Water Authority decided to increase its planned allocation by 5 million cubic meters (from 10 to 15 mcm). That is a 50% increase of the originally-planned total allocation of freshwater to nature!

The Jordan River Rehabilitation Project is supported by USAID, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Green Environment Fund and the Global Nature Fund / Ursula Merz Foundation.