Successful Youth Camps Held in the Jordan Valley and at the Dead Sea
April heralded the completion of not one but two successful Good Water Neighbors (GWN) regional youth camps in the Jordan Valley Basin.

After the success of last year’s “Streaming to the Jordan”, a community-wide environmental event held on the banks of the Jordan River, it was decided to couple this year’s event with a regional youth camp. This match was notable on two levels. First, that both Israeli and Jordanian Youth Water Trustees were exposed to the colorful spectrum of their cross border community, in an environment prime with awareness, education and fun. And secondly, it was an opportunity for residents of the Jordan Valley to see and talk with their neighbors; a too-rare occasion. For the youth camp, this was not only the main event: the days prior to the event were also filled with action, with the opening of a new walking path in Naharayim, and a memorable trip to Haifa. A sense of empowerment and cooperation filled the days with enjoyment.

Additionally, the Dead Sea youth camp was exciting and inspiring, when Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian Youth Water Trustees met each other and learned of the many things they have in common. Together they hiked to a well and spring and felt the importance of water in the desert. In the evening, the discussion around the bonfire was emotional with everyone speaking of the importance for saving the Dead Sea, learning about each other’s communities and how the demise of the sea influences many of their lives. At the end of the camp, participants expressed themselves through a magnificent drawing of a man with the Dead Sea representing his heart. The collaborative drawing done by the youth emphasized the need for joint cooperation in order to save the sea and reflects the dedication and hope towards finding an environmental solution.

Battir National Teachers’ Seminar
On Saturday, April 23, 40 teachers from the Ministry of Education offices in Salfit and Tulkarem met for a national teachers’ seminar to introduce the group to the Good Water Neighbors Resource Guide. The event was held in Battir for environmental educators and included a tour to the Battir Landscape Eco-Museum as a part of introducing the teachers to the cultural and environmental heritage of the area.

Watershed Identity Branding Forums
This past month, representatives from communities in the Dead Sea, Yarkon and Jordan Valley watersheds met to discuss ‘branding & identity’ campaigns for each of their watersheds. Many came from the tourism field as well as local municipalities. These forums aim to develop a vision and brand for what a shared watershed will look like. These are early stages in a series of meetings, with the goal of presenting the plans at a regional conference in November.
Additionally on April 8-9, Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian youth alumni met at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark. Their meeting also focused on branding and identity, following the above-described GWN forums. The five creative groups brainstormed and came up with a variety of contributions and ideas on identity and branding. Community coordinators will now be inviting the alumni to participate in upcoming national forum meetings and encourage them to take an active role in their communities.

Breaking Ground on the Model Farm Irrigation Pool
Work continues at the Model Farm in South Ghor, Jordan. A joint team of Israelis and Jordanians completed the construction of an irrigation pool that can be monitored remotely by computer. Next steps include preparing the land for the upcoming crop season. Once fully operational, the Model Farm will hold cross-border agriculture training programs and conduct research on relevant agriculture techniques such as crop selection, irrigation, fertilization and plant protection.

EcoPeace Middle East Celebrates Earth Day!!!

Luncheon Briefing on New Models of Cooperation: Promoting Sustainability and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East Region
Yana Abu Taleb, Assistant Director of the EcoPeace Middle East Amman office, participated in an event on April 19th in honor of Earth Day which discussed peace parks as a vehicle to promoting conflict resolution between neighboring countries. Yana discussed the development of the Jordan River Peace Park which combines two adjacent areas in Jordan and Israel; Al Bakoora / Naharayim and the Jeser Al Majama / Gesher site. The event was hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland.

Auja EcoCenter Holds a Variety of Activities in Honor of Earth Day
This year the Auja EcoCenter led a number of activities related to Earth Day including local Youth Water Trustees helping to plant trees in Ka’abneh Village in the Jordan Valley. Additionally, 30 young seedlings from the Seed of Hope Kindergarten visited Auja EcoCenter to learn about the importance of the environment, water and recycling; and students from Al-Quds University also received a presentation for Earth Day and took part in a tour of the Auja Village.

Earth Day in Haifa
Youth Water Trustees and Alumni participated in an Earth Day event in Haifa on April 25th to raise awareness about pollution to the upper Kishon River Basin. The event included activities that demonstrated to local residents the importance of the water cycle and joint efforts needed to keep it clean. Participants of the event also created water cycle bracelets outs of beads as daily reminders of water’s importance. Each color represented integral steps in the process: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, ground water and run off as well as human use, pollution and recycling to introduce the human effect on the water cycle.

EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project is supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Jordan River faith-based Tour
This month, at the request of the Pastor of the Augusta Victoria Church in Jerusalem, EcoPeace staff led a site tour to the Jordan River to show church staff and volunteers the challenges facing the River. In the context of our faith based program, the importance of discussing the demise of the River and bringing the reality of the Jordan River to the forefront of community discussion cannot be overstated. Participants signed our Jordan River Covenant to express their support for rehabilitation efforts.

Sign Erected for the Future Jordan River Peace Park
The northern entrance to the future Jordan River Peace Park is now graced by a sign, in three languages, explaining the significance of the site. This cross-border environmental initiative represents a symbol for peace in the region, as it highlights the economic potential of the river’s rehabilitation. The park will support projects on ecotourism and cultural heritage, along with programs on environmental education and environmental management.

Dead Sea and the Jordan River
A new and updated edition of the book “The Dead Sea and the Jordan River” was recently released by the well-known author and long-time friend of EcoPeace, Barbara Kreiger.
Gidon Bromberg, on the jacket cover of the book writes “The Jordan River and its terminal lake, the Dead Sea, have been on center stage of Middle East mythology, history and politics for millennia. Barbara Kreiger’s story of the modern day demise of these waters and the urgent need for their rehabilitation is a must-read for anyone that wants to understand the relevance of water issues to the continuing turmoil in the region.”
[Don’t forget to use Amazon Smile when purchasing the book!]

EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project, including faith-based activities, are supported by the Swedish International Development Agency and the Osprey Foundation.

London Salon Discussion and Dinner
On April 14, at the invitation of Kate Rothschild, EcoPeace’s Israeli Director, Gidon Bromberg, and Jordanian Director, Munqeth Mehyar, led a salon discussion on water and Middle East peace with special attention to the Gaza water crises, over dinner prepared by Ottolenghi at the home of Jemima Khan. The 30 guests were composed of UK leaders in the world of environment, Middle East politics, government, academia and more.

Event at Wembley Central Mosque
EcoPeace Jordan Director, Munqeth Mehyar, spoke at the Wembley Central Mosque near London on April 17th following his attendance at the Skoll World Forum & Conference on Social Entrepreneurship, and a week of meetings with government officials and colleagues. Mr. Mehyar spoke about cooperative environmental activities and the role water issues can play to advance peace in the Middle East. The event was co-sponsored by the Wembley Central Mosque, EcoPeace and the Mosaic Jewish Community.

From Our Friends at Neve Shalom – Waha al-Salam Village
This fall, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts-Boston, the Jewish-Arab community of Neve Shalom-Waha al-Salam will be hosting a Master’s Program in Conflict Resolution. The program will be taught by UMass-Boston faculty in collaboration with Israeli and Palestinian experts. To find out more, go to this page to fill out a contact form.