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).