On April 12th, under the patronage of HRH Prince Hassan Bin Talal, a ceremony was held for the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan to feature this EcoPark as a model towards the restoration of the Jordan Valley as a whole.

More than six years ago, FoEME began with the development of 100 dunams for an EcoPark, in an attempt to restore the heavily degraded ecosystem of the Jordan River basin. With 98% of the river’s historic flow diverted and 50% of its biodiversity lost, the EcoPark provides an example of how, with proper management, biodiversity can be restored. This project is the first of its kind in the country. Historically, nature reserves in Jordan were established in places with high biodiversity or natural value. Sharhabil Bin Hassnah EcoPark (SHE) was initially established in a degraded ecosystem.

Today, the EcoPark includes several thousand dunams and has seen an incredible return of biodiversity to the area, protection of wildlife and the creation of community open spaces.

Attending the event were local and national politicians, as well as international figures, together with many local residents who are daily enjoying the new green open space area in their neighborhood.

This month FoEME’s Jordan River Champions in the European Parliament led the call to reiterate its commitment to a rehabilitated Lower Jordan River in its “Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy – Southern Dimension” adopted this month.

Building on the EU Parliament resolution calling for the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River passed last year, this review includes a strong call to the Council, the EU Commission and the EU Member States “to encourage and support a comprehensive plan to rectify the devastation of the Jordan River and to continue to provide financial and technical support for the rehabilitation of the river, and the Lower Jordan River in particular, also in the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean.”

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

Friends of the Earth Middle East brought together Youth “Water Trustees” from 2 neighboring Good Water Neighbors communities of Tulkarem and Emek Hefer to participate in the annual Emek Hefer Parade.

During the parade, youth manned a booth together explaining their shared water related issues to passersby, they were introduced to other participants from other youth groups, they danced a “debka” together, and enjoyed getting to know their peers from across the border. The group from Tulkarem was warmly accepted throughout the day.

The exciting 4th meeting of the Jordan Valley Youth Leadership project took place in the beautiful setting of the Kings Academy in Jordan.

The objective of the ‘Water Trustees’ from Biet Shean (Israel), Jericho (Palestine) and Kings Academy (Jordan), was to finalize the 2 films they have been working on in order to bring attention to the state of the Lower Jordan River. During the workshop they also planned how to use the films in local campaigns in their schools and communities to raise awareness and strengthen public opinion about the need for rehabilitation. Soon they will launch Facebook pages with the films and you are all invited to give it your “Like”!

On the last weekend of April, youth ‘Water Trustees’ from the Mountain Aquifer communities of Tsur Hadassah, Yatta, Wadi Fuqin, West Jerusalem, East Jerusalem and the downstream community of Eshkol found out how dance and ecology go together at the Ecological-Artistic village of Vertigo in Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Hei.

Getting to know each other at first ‘without words’ – just through music and movement – was a great basis for building communication during the camp. This was followed by hands-on workshops such as learning how to build from earth, advantages of recycling grey water, composting, renewable energy and medical plants. At the end of the seminar, the youth planned projects in their communities – to build constructed wetlands. We are proud of the new environmental engineers!

On April 26th, American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein chose to visit FoEME’s Auja Environmental Education Center as part of his Earth Day tour visiting select sites in the Jordan Valley area.

In brief comments to an audience that included many local students, Mr. Rubinstein praised FoEME’s initiatives, noting in particular the “Good Water Neighbors” project carried out in 25 communities in the region. Subsequently, the Consul General, students, and others in attendance planted trees around the Eco-Center’s garden.

We are honored at this show of interest and believe that the EcoCenter and Guesthouse act as an anchor to promote more environmental education and eco-tourism projects in the region.

Visit our Good Water Neighbors press coverage page for recent articles that mention the project.

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

The Auja Environmental Education Center is supported by the Drosos Foundation.

FoEME Tel Aviv gave a presentation entitled “Water as a source of regional cooperation” at the Israel Water Association conference. This annual conference brings together academia, water experts and high level decision makers for discussions and updates on water related topics including; water in the Middle East, preparations for climate change, streams and river management, water and agriculture, rehabilitation of water sources, technologies in the water sector, and water for nature.

FoEME’s presentation focused on our efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River as a shared natural, historic and cultural heritage site, as well as our proposal for a new Model Water Agreement between Israel and the PA.

source: foeme.org