Emergency Appeal for Abasan Municipality, Gaza Water and Sanitation Needs

The tragic events of this past month have led to a horrific loss of life and destruction throughout parts of Gaza and southern Israel. EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) staff and communities have been directly affected at all levels including two communities that are part of our Good Water Neighbors project; the Eshkol Regional Council in Israel and Abasan Al Kabireh municipality in Gaza. While the Israeli government has the resources to respond to the financial needs of the Eshkol community, in Gaza the Mayor of Abasan Al Kabireh has few resources and thus has turned directly to FoEME to ask for immediate assistance.

Current estimates, by the Mayor, include an urgent need of $10,000 per month to help provide his community of 21,000 people with clean drinking water. In response to the urgent request from the Mayor of Abasan, EcoPeace/FoEME launched an emergency appeal in August to help resupply clean water to Abasan, while concurrently preventing the outbreak of disease. The municipality and its population’s needs are urgent and unfortunately will remain so for several months to come until international development agencies begin recovery efforts throughout Gaza.

We are proud to report though, that as of today, EcoPeace/FoEME has raised enough funds to support the municipality’s water needs for three months. Water containers and water, such as the one above, have been purchased for resident use. The next steps include rehabilitation of an old well, repair of the small desalinization plant, and additional water containers and water purchased for Abasan.

FoEME and the people of Abasan are still asking for your individual support in this time of need as we don’t know how long the water crisis and lack of proper sanitation will continue.

We thank those who have contributed so far, additional donations can be made via FoEME’s PayPal account by going to our donation page.

Bakoura National Park to be established along the Jordanian side of the Lower Jordan River

After years of relentless work and advocacy efforts, FoEME is pleased to announce that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Jordan Valley Authority in Jordan to develop the Bakoura area into a national park.

The current Bakoura area, located at the junction of the Yarmouk and Jordan Rivers, is home to a rich array of cultural and natural heritage sites. The area’s rich biodiversity will allow for the development of sustainable ecotourism activities including bird watching facilities, reuse of existing infrastructure as eco-lodges and the former hydroelectric power plant as a museum and information center. The park is expected to create local jobs in support of the area’s economy while conserving the area’s environment. With the MOU’s signing, FoEME is advancing the production of a business plan for the park, and providing support to additional projects on the ground. For further details, see this FoEME blog.

FoEME Welcomes the New Bitunya Waste Water Treatment Plant in the Jordan Valley

After years of local, national and regional advocacy efforts, FoEME is pleased to congratulate the leadership and residents of the Israeli Jordan Valley Regional Council for the opening of its new Waste Water Treatment Plant. The operation of the new facility will have immediate impacts on the ecology of the Lower Jordan River with the removal of the domestic sewage from the Jordan River system. This marks a major step forward in working towards a healthy and clean Jordan River.

While welcoming this effort wholeheartedly, FoEME still maintains its warning that removal of sewage and other polluted effluents must be met by the return of greater quantities of fresh water to the Lower Jordan, therefore helping to ensure that the river flows year round.

Advocacy activities in support of these developments are part of the Good Water Neighbors and Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Osprey Foundation.

Criminal investigation, due to raw sewage spills, opened against the settlement of Beitar Ellite

The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection opened a criminal investigation against the Beitar Ellite settlement in response to its ongoing sewage spills on neighboring Palestinian communities.

This criminal investigation follows numerous complaints to the Israeli Ministry of Environment from Wadi Fukin (Palestine) residents, in partnership with Tzur Hadassah (Israel) residents, two cross border partnering communities under FoEME’s Good Water Neighbors Project. FoEME representatives have already given testimony during the investigation and will continue to provide evidence of the illegal sewage spills.

Advancing Waste Water Treatment Facilities at Auja

In coordination with the Palestinian Water Authority, local authorities and area stakeholders, FoEME recently entered into a consulting agreement with the Joint Venture of the Universal Group for Engineering and Consulting (UG) and Maqdesi Engineering Consulting Firm (MEnCo), whereby UG and MEnCo will prepare a feasibility study and a conceptual engineering design for a new wastewater treatment plant to service the Al Auja area in the Jericho Governorate, Palestine.

The establishment of a new wastewater treatment facility will provide new water resources, expand irrigated areas, upgrade sewage infrastructure, and improve the environmental situation in Al Auja. The project includes a 3 month preparatory stage, after which the necessary permits and funding will be sought.

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Workshop on Implementing the Arab Peace Initiative at the Jordanian – Palestinian Level

Earlier this summer, representatives from FoEME attended a workshop on implementing the Arab Peace Initiative at the Jordanian-Palestinian level. The event was organized by the United Religious Initiative – MENA region chapter, in cooperation with the Center for Democracy and Community Development, as part of an EU sponsored program entitled “Building Sustainable Peace through the Arab Peace Initiative.” Throughout the course of the high level meeting, FoEME experts elaborated on the significant contribution environmental cooperation has on regional peace building activities. Read more in our blog.

FoEME’s Water Cannot Wait Campaign is supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Sharhabil bin Hassaneh EcoPark, Jordan

This summer FoEME team members led a series of applied learning activities in partnership with the Jordanian Mabarrat Um Al Hussein learning and care institution for young boys living in hardship at our Sharhabil bin Hassaneh Ecopark (SHE). FoEME experts provided theoretical background information as well as applied learning activities concerning solid waste management including clean up campaigns and tree planting activities at the park and at the Mabarrat facilities for the young participants. More pictures of this activity are available on FoEME’s Facebook Page and you can view a video on our YouTube page.

Students from Columbia High School, here from New York, also had the chance to participate in a tour of the Lower Jordan River with FoEME, where they received explanations about the deterioration of the Lower Jordan River and its resulting impacts on the Dead Sea environment. The students also had a chance to learn about our regional approach to rehabilitate the shared river including FoEME’s faith based community outreach campaign.

International Alert visits the Jordanian Jordan Valley

Experts from International Alert, one of the world’s leading peacebuilding organizations, visited the Jordan Valley with FoEME this month to learn about the environmental and water scarcity challenges facing Jordan Valley residents.

Throughout the visit FoEME discussed the issues of climate change, population growth, refugee influx and the potential human security threats resulting from inadequate water supply as well as strategies for curbing these critical challenges while focusing on sanitation and agricultural demand management approaches.

FoEME shines a light at Olympic Truce activities in Nepal

This summer a representative of FoEME traveled to Nepal as part of the Olympic Truce program.

The event marks FoEME’s continued partnership with the program which hosts a series of activities for representatives from different countries from around the world to learn and share strategies and approaches to further promote and enhance peaceful coexistence in their respective countries.

FoEME Bookshelf – New Book Released

FoEME is pleased to announce the release of the fifth edition of Green Planet Blues: Critical Perspectives on Global Environmental Politics, edited by Ken Conca and Geoffrey D. Dabelko. The new book includes a chapter highlighting the successful environmental peacemaking strategies advanced by FoEME through our Good Water Neighbors project. The book identifies FoEME’s programs as leading examples of how to successfully implement the “concept of environmental peacebuilding and serve as an example for environmental security, reconciliation and peace in other regions of protracted conflict on our planet.”

The Good Water Neighbors project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Jordan River Photography Exhibition hosted by Noah’s Ark in the Netherlands

In partnership with Global Nature Fund and photographer Eddie Gerald, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) has curated a series of stark images of the Jordan Valley, highlighting its beauty, its heritage and its role in today’s conflict, contrasting the River’s current deteriorating situation with the magnificence of the landscape. FoEME’s Jordan River Photography Exhibition has travelled to numerous locations throughout Europe and will now be hosted by Noah’s Ark in Dordrecht, Netherlands for the next 12 months to raise awareness about the need to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River.

This awareness building activity is part of FoEME’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project and graciously supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and the Osprey Foundation.

Upcoming Events and Activities:

FoEME is 20 Years Old! Join us on October 20, 2014 in Washington D.C.

EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East is celebrating our 20th Anniversary with a Gala Dinner on October 20, 2014 in Washington D.C., USA with author, journalist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as the guest speaker. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, near the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, DC, with a reception at 6:30 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm. Seating is limited. To avoid disappointment, please contact Erin Falah at erin@foeme.org or Mary Alexander at mary@mkalexander.com. You can reserve a ticket by clicking here.

Join FoEME at World Water Week August 31-September 5, 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden

Join FoEME and other water experts from around the world in this year’s World Water Week from August 31-September 5, 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden. FoEME representatives will be speaking about the importance of regional integrated water and energy infrastructure during the integrated water and energy policy and governance workshop on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. For detailsm visit our specific events page or the World Water Week site.

FoEME at World Muslim Leadership Forum September 26, 2014, United Kingdom

FoEME representatives will join hundreds of representatives from around the world at this biennial event. World Muslim Leadership Forum takes place on September 26 in Westminster, UK. The conference will discuss global leadership and contemporary challenges for the Islamic world. FoEME representatives will address the opportunity to engage Muslim communities on environmental challenges in support of our faith based campaign to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River. For more information on this campaign and to endorse our Jordan River Covenant please visit our Jordan River webpage.