Listed below are recent events that have taken place with Youth, in the framework of the ‘Good Water Neighbors’ project. All other events can be found throughout our Newsletters; link on our homepage.
[For publications relevant to this project, click here]
Presentation to Israel Geography Teachers
EcoPeace Middle East Israeli Hydrologist, Nadav Tal, was honored to be the opening speaker at the Annual Israeli Geography Teachers Conference. Nadav’s one hour lecture on “Water in the Middle East – Geopolitical issues in light of climate change and developing needs”, presented to the teachers current water issues such as the decrease in rainfall in the north of Israel in the last few years, the state of the Sea of Galilee, changes in the water sector following desalination and water reuse and opportunities for regional cooperation. He also presented innovative ideas for the future such as the Water-Energy Nexus and the results of a new study on Food Security. Certainly a lot of water for thought!
Stockholm Junior Water Prize
Two “Water Trustees” from the ‘Ort Mekif Aravi’ Ramle School, from the Good Water Neighbors project’s Yarkon Basin, Ranadi Abu Rizak and Shirin Abu Riash, won the Stockholm Water Prize for small research projects. They were presented with the Certificate by the Biology Officer of the Ministry of Education. The two students used the hydroponic system that was built as part of the Good Water Neighbors project (featured in the last 2 newsletters) to research hydroponic lettuce growth. Needless to say, EcoPeace applauds their efforts for this innovative research on water conservation and are very proud of their achievement.
Tours and Lectures to U.S. students
Last week, EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator from Emek Hefer, Israel, took a group of students from the Sabra Institute from New York City to see the water reality in the Alexander Watershed. The students were exposed for the first time to cross border pollution issues and began to understand the complex reality and the need for cooperation with the other side. We are pleased at what Mr. Irving Safdieh, the President of the Institute said following the tour: “the experience really opened the eyes of our students to a side of multi ethnic cooperation they did not know before”. EcoPeace looks forward to leading additional groups such as this one – to be able to open more eyes that can understand the complex reality in the region, and the need for environmental peace.
On June 20th, Palestinian and Israeli Good Water Neighbors staff, Malek Abualfailat and Rotem Weizman, gave a joint lecture to students from the Tulane University at Hebrew University’s Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace about the Good Water Neighbors Project. They discussed the achievements as well as the struggles of working on community initiatives under conflict, stressing the importance of environmental peacebuilding and the opportunities it can bring to the region.
Emek Hefer / Baka Gharbia Youth day
As a special final event in the Good Water Neighbor’s program this school year, EcoPeace staff took youth Water Trustees from the ‘Ramot Yam’ School in Emek Hefer, to meet the youth Water Trustees from the neighboring community of Baka el Gharbia. For some of the Jewish students, it was the first time they met Arab youth, learning about the month of Ramadan, as well as the difficult environmental problems facing Baka el Gharbia, their neighbor.
New Hydroponics system installed in Kefar Bara
12 young women from Kefar Bara, in the Yarkon Basin, underwent an environmental course with EcoPeace Community Coordinator, Mohamad Biadsi in the context of their “Community Service Year”. Their end of year activity was building a hydroponic system from 60 plastic bottles on the gate of the community center in Kefar Bara, showcasing low-tech water saving techniques and an innovative way to reuse plastic bottles. This activity was in partnership with the Ecological Greenhouse at Ein Shemer.
On May 29th, the Meitarim high school held an inauguration ceremony attended by the head of the Meitar local council for the new hydroponic system donated by EcoPeace. The system enables the students to conduct research and deepen their knowledge on environmental issues. The students talked about their achievements in environmental education, future plans and prepared a vegetable salad from vegetables they grew in the hydroponic system!
Young Female Environmental Leadership Camp – Ein Karem
A young female environmental leadership seminar was held in Ein Karem, near Jerusalem, this month. A group of Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli girls from different communities participated and stayed in the ‘St. John in the Mountain’ Monastery. They took part in planting activities, toured in nearby Ein Rafa with a local female urban planner and community leader. This was followed by a women’s leadership workshop about environmental leaders such as Koenjari Matay, Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall. The participants analyzed the leadership attributes of these environmental icons, such as courage, belief, empathy and persistence. The camp concluded with creative writing and reflections in the beautiful area of the Monastery.
Regional Youth Camp – MEDFORVAL
A 3-day regional workshop was held this month in the context of the MEDFORVAL project at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan – with Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli youth. Over the 3 days, the students took part in several activities that focused on biodiversity and its impact on the environment. They were given tools to understand the importance of environmental sustainability in our region. They toured the EcoPark and learned about forestation, biodiversity and solid waste management. They performed tasks about biodiversity and vegetation, helped clean the EcoPark while separating the waste to be collected for recycling and designed slogans to emphasize the need to protect the environment. Read more in this blog.
New Hydroponic System Installed
As part of the Youth Water Trustees training in the Besor-Hebron Basin, EcoPeace installed a hydroponic system at the Meitarim Branko Weiss High School. The 8th grade science class together with their teacher and Ecopeace community coordinator Shlomit Tamari, planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, and other vegetables. The students learned how to check the fertilizers’ rates in the water by measuring the water’s electric conductivity. Thanks to the new system, the students can perform different experiments and enjoy a salad made from the vegetables they grow themselves. A hydroponic system can be placed on walls, balconies and roofs, and uses 11 times less water than a normal vegetable garden. Eyal Barkan, Farmit agronomist, installed the system and taught the students about its different usages.
World Water Day Activities
Consul General Donald Blome visited our Auja EcoCenter to learn more about the work environmental organizations are doing throughout the West Bank. He was very impressed by our work with the EcoPark and was introduced to a group of students studying solar energy from the Palestine Technical University in Tulkarm. Watch Consul General Donald Blome’s experience in his own words.
EcoPeace’s Community Coordinator of the Besor watershed held a national teacher’s training to mark World Water Day for 21 teachers from all over Israel. The teacher’s expressed great interest in issues of water and trans-boundary cooperation and were motivated to learn more on the importance of environmentalism coupled with peacebuilding activities.
Cross Border Events with our Youth Water Trustees!
March was a busy month for EcoPeace’s youth ‘Water Trustees’. The month kicked off on March 11th with youth Water Trusees from the Israeli/Palestinian Yarkon/Qana watershed participating in a cross border event at the Qana Nature reserve. Through playing games, enjoying nature, and engaging in discussions, the students learned about the joint problems in the basin, the concept of a shared water resource, and the importance of cooperation.
Then on March 17th, youth Water Trustees from Yatta, Palestine visited their cross-border peers at Kibbutz Ze’elim in Israel. After a full day was spent discussing environment and water issues, they crossed a foot suspension bridge with water as a symbol to represent their shared water resources.
Finally, with spring in full bloom in the Jordan Valley, EcoPeace held a large cross border event from March 23rd to 25th that included three of our watersheds. As the weather was beautiful, the youth spent all their time outdoors, starting with icebreaking games for the students to get to know each of their shared watersheds. They spent the second day in the Amoud Valley learning about the environment and geology of that area through water footprint activities and recognizing the diverse flora and fauna. On Saturday, the youth participated in the third annual “Streaming to the Jordan” event of which EcoPeace was one of the event organizers. The event consisted of a communal walk along the banks of the rehabilitated Lower Jordan River, followed by a festive gathering of the local community with music, food, and activities for the whole family, part of which was run by our students.
National Teacher Training in Israel
On March 15th, EcoPeace held a national teacher’s training in Israel to help familiarize geography teachers with our Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. The teachers and members of EcoPeace’s staff visited the Meitarim border crossing and Beer Sheva stream to better understand the complexity of shared water management, the area’s water heritage, relations between the city and stream, and the importance of teachers as environmental leaders. They also discussed ways to incorporate relevant questions from EcoPeace’s work to students’ final exams in High School.
Ein-Gedi “Alumni” Youth Camp
EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project gathered together 22 youth for a regional “Alumni Water Trustees” camp in Ein Gedi earlier this month. They came together to learn about the Dead Sea and its lack of water, the challenges that need to be dealt with in the area, and then did a practical exercise; leading a “Neighbors Trail” hike in the area where they were the ones giving the presentations and developing the discussions. Read a blog written by one of our interns about her experience in this Youth Water Trustees Camp.
Ein Gedi also houses one of EcoPeace’s EcoParks (others include the Auja EcoCenter in Palestine and the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan). Here in Ein Gedi, environmental education focuses on sustainable practices in a dry, desert atmosphere, including mud building, solar cooking, water conservation techniques and more. A new feature is our greenhouse that grows many organic vegetables – enough so that the park can provide lunch to the local elderly community!
Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark had a busy month!
If you happened to be at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark (SHE) this month, you would have seen incredible action! (1) The EcoPark was the chosen site for the Nahj Training & Development NGO to hold their leadership skills workshop; (2) the EcoPark hosted a 2-day seminar for several Jordanian and Palestinian “Alumni” of our Good Water Neighbors program that included cleanup campaigns and activities related to environmental awareness; (3) a one-week retreat for a group of American CIEE study abroad students in cooperation with Jordan University, who are here studying Arabic and engaging in community service in Jordan. They visited the municipality, the local schools, and enjoyed their time with the local Bedouins as well; and (4) an amazing 2,500 visitors that came to picnic and enjoy the outdoor atmosphere last Friday. The SHE EcoPark is clearly “on the map” in Jordan!
National Teacher’s Seminar in Jordan
Our Amman office organized a National Teacher’s seminar at Sharhabil bin Hasseneh EcoPark from January 5th to 7th with seventy teachers participating in the event. The seminar focused on best methods for knowledge transfer of environmental issues to students. Teachers shared experiences of working with students and were presented with the EcoPeace’s Resource Guide for Environmental Education’s methodology on how to raise awareness on water issues. With the help of our Community Coordinators, they became familiarized with the systematic approach of the guide before actively participating in activities outlined in the text.
Chinese Students’ Visit
On January 17th our Community Coordinator from the Alexander Stream took a group of 60 students from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Beijing University on a tour in Emek Hefer. They were introduced to the issues that face the Alexander/Zomer Basin, and to EcoPeace’s activities in the Basin. Students were also given a presentation on cross-border environmental initiatives.
Youth Water Trustees at Ort Mekif Aravi Ramle School
On Monday, January 23rd, 37 students of the Ort Mekif Aravi Ramle Youth Water Trustee’s program inaugurated a new hydroponic system on the school’s grounds. All students will be able to use the system as a tool towards understanding water conservation and conducting experiments as part of the school’s environmental studies course. During the ceremony, the students described the system’s design to the National Environmental Studies Supervisor, Ms. Sarah Zaoui.
Then, on January 24th, Youth Water Trustees went on a field trip to the Yarkon Basin as part of the Good Water Neighbors Project. The day began with a tour of the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant, where students learned about reclaimed water. The plant currently treats 370,000 m3/d of municipal wastewater from a population of over two million in the Greater Tel Aviv area and uses its secondary effluent as irrigation water in the arid southern part of Israel. The group later visited Seven Mills in the Yarkon Park, where they learned about the history of the basin from the late 19th century until today, and visited the nearby constructed wetlands to learn more about the Yarkon Rehabilitation plan.
Cross Border Regional Youth camp
A regional youth camp took place at our Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan as part of the MEDFORVAL Project Program. Participants from Jordan, Israel and Palestine had the opportunity to gain and share knowledge about Forests Protection and Biodiversity. On the first day, after engaging in social activities, participants learned about the unique bio-geography of the region. On the second day they went on a lengthy tour of the EcoPark and learned how to undertake an ecological survey witnessing first-hand the EcoPark area’s habitats and biodiversity. On the last day the group was taught how to differentiate between exotic and endemic species.
Women’s Empowerment at Kaser el Yehud
A group of Israeli female ‘Water Trustees’ came to meet Palestinian female ‘Water Trustees’ at the Kaser el Yehud baptism site on the Lower Jordan River. The girls were divided into 3 groups, and each was assigned to study a different time period of the River: past, present and future. The ‘historians’ learned that the water in the River Jordan was once so abundant that boats were lost in its strong flow! The group researching the present saw pilgrims at the site being baptized in polluted water and were shocked that this is permitted, and the ‘fortune tellers’ drew a picture of the river slowly coming back to life The girls presented their short research to a group of tourists who were visiting the site, ending with the song written a few months earlier “We Will Change It“. Holding hands in a circle before their farewell, each participant choose a word that she will take with her from the day: hope, love, trust, cooperation, friends, future. What a nice way to say goodbye! Read more in our blog “Girl Power at the Jordan River”.
Cross Border Youth Visit between Hebron and Bsor communities
In yet another cross border activity this month, this time focusing on the Hebron / Be’er Sheva watershed, youth from the Negev area in Israel braved the rainy weather forecast and greeted their Palestinian counterparts from the upstream village of Yatta. Luckily, the skies cleared up, and the group was able to visit the wastewater catchment facility located near the Green Line, between their communities.
The second part of the day took place near the Beer Sheva Stream, at the Freedom Bell Park, where participants heard the bell ringing and reflected that it sounded like a call for “every one of us to take part in the rehabilitation of the River”.
Joint Palestinian-Israeli Youth Environmental Training Day
On November 25th Palestinian and Israeli youth from Auja and the Lower Jordan River participated in environmental activities at the Baptism Site on the River Jordan. This event is part of EcoPeace’s Good Water Neighbors project and a new initiative funded by the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.
Participants had the opportunity to partake in outdoor training activities and learn about the Jordan River and about water issues through direct interaction. The group also participated in a humus workshop to learn about “virtual water” in food.
Another Year at YOCOPAS!
Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian alumni and Youth Water Trustee’s from our Good Water Neighbors project, participated for a second year in the Regional Youth Conference for Peace and Sustainability (YOCOPAS) held from October 26th to 28th at the Eastern Mediterranean International School on Hakfar Hayarok, a youth village and educational campus in the center of Israel. On the second day of the conference, EcoPeace Community Coordinators, from the three offices, led a workshop and simulation exercise about shared water resources between Palestine, Israel and Jordan. The students were divided into three groups simulating the three parties and discussed each side’s water allocation and water demands while taking into consideration the other’s needs. This helped the students learn of creative but realistic solutions to meet the needs of the region but still suit the lifestyles of those involved, providing a win-win situation that aids in peacebuilding efforts by sharing common resources.
Alumni Hard at Work
Good Water Neighbors alumni are taking their work to the next level. A former Youth Water Trustee and now participant in the alumni program established her own group of Youth Water Trustees in Jenin. She has been working hard at garnering interest and participants in her community and has held 3 meetings so far. She even contacted the village council to get permission to work in the council’s hall and garden with the trustees. Additionally, an Israeli alumna participated in the Women Wage Peace rally and spent the day with Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee. She gave an insightful lecture & discussion about EcoPeace while traveling to the different locales throughout the day.
“Water Has No Borders” – at Emek Hefer Festival
The annual ‘Bridges over the Stream’ festival was held in Emek Hefer this month, with EcoPeace Youth “Water Trustees” constructing and manning an EcoPeace booth. The festival included several days of art and music activities held on the banks of the Alexander River. Our message of “Water Has No Borders” was displayed at the entrance to the festival and served as a great conversation starter for the hundreds of residents and visitors that attended.
Tree Planting in Madaba, Jordan
As part of the Good Water Neighbors project, we are maintaining and building new eco-facilities in all of our communities. In Madaba, Jordan, in cooperation with the municipality, Youth Water Trustees planted some 50 Carob trees alongside the main tourist road in the city. A large campaign was conducted in order to include the public and increase their participation. Shop owners on the road were very pleased, saying “… these trees that were planted today do not belong only to the municipality…. they are ours, and it is up to us to protect them and water them. Thank you so much for this activity”.
Regional Teachers Seminar
From July 26th to 28th, EcoPeace held its annual Good Water Neighbors Regional Teachers’ Seminar at our Sharhabil bin Hassneh (SHE) EcoPark in Jordan. During these three days of discussion and interaction, study groups analyzed cross border water issues related to the Dead Sea, Jordan River and Gaza. The group also enjoyed numerous excursions in and around the SHE EcoPark. We thank all the teachers and educators for participating!
GWN Youth Alumni Graduation
On July 19th, ten Israeli Youth Water Trustee alumni joined together to celebrate graduating from the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) program and to reflect on their past few years’ of involvement. To celebrate, the alumni participated in a team building activity at the climbing wall in HaYarkon Park, where Israeli Education Coordinator Amy Lipman-Avizohar instructed them to think about all the obstacles they have overcome and achievements they have made as they climbed the tower together. After the fun activities in the park, the group joined Director Gidon Bromberg for a graduation ceremony, where each alumnus discussed what they gained through participating in the GWN program and received a certificate of appreciation. Congratulations to all!
Youth Water Trustees Explore Neighbors’ Paths
Good Water Neighbors Youth Water Trustees from Bet Yerach High School in the Jordan Valley Regional Council wrapped up their school year with a Neighbors’ Path Tour. The main stops included the Water Authority’s Sapir Pumping Station at the Sea of Galilee, the Bitaniya Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the Chagal Waste Dump. The group of teenagers discussed the regional strategic importance of the Sea of Galilee, the importance of water treatment and recycling, and the impact of sub-group water sources, and enjoyed a tour that was both educational and entertaining.
Cross Border Youth Activities
On May 30th, Israeli and Palestinian youth who live around the Alexander / Zomer watershed participated in an afternoon outdoors to experience their local and diverse array of flora, fauna, and marine life as well as learn about the environmental threats to the basin and discuss the shared responsibility to protect common resources. Students toured Israel Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center where they learned about the turtle’s habitat, they then took their own chemical tests for water quality, and discussed how their communities impact one another. At the end of the day, the students made posters showing their joint support for a cleaner watershed which will be presented to the Head of the Regional Council in June.
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.
Additionally, the two municipalities of Baka Al Gharbia and Baka Al Sharkia had two busy days on May 30th and 31st. Youth from Baka Al Sharkia attended a cross border event in Baka Al Gharbia and took part in clean-up activities, planting vegetation and learning more about local environmental issues. On the 31st, our local Community Coordinator organized an environmental conference for the local area with mayors, school principals and teachers in attendance.
Cross-border Youth Camp in Jordan
Jordanian and Israeli Students met at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan from March 17-19 for a cross-border youth camp. The camp highlighted better management of domestic solid waste issues. The students also learned about their shared water resources and challenges. Alumni participated by presenting solid waste issues in their communities. All the participants went on a hike through the EcoPark to take in the breathtaking springtime views and learn more about the three R’s; Recycling, Reuse, and Reduce.
Good Water Neighbors (GWN) – Clean Water Awareness Activities in Emek Hefer and Baka Al Gharbia
15 Good Water Neighbor water trustees and alumni from Baka Al Gharbia participated in a local cleanup day on March 2nd to help promotemore awareness of the need to keep streams clean for the benefit of all. Participants spent a long day picking up trash so that local visitors could continue to enjoy outdoor activities.
Additionally, six youth water trustee’s represented EcoPeace on March 11th in the Emek Hefer Regional Council’s Annual March. The event included a winding hike through citrus groves with different “stations” along the way. Our Water Trustee’s station taught numerous school children and residents about their local cross border stream and the joint efforts needed to keep it pollution free and clean.
Girls from East and West Jerusalem Explore the Jerusalem Hills
On March 20th, 10 Israeli and 10 Palestinian teenage girls met as part of the Good Water Neighbors project to explore the blossoming Jerusalem Hills. The group spent the day outside exploring their common cultural landscape, where nature and culture are intertwined in the mountain springs, which were the only constant source of water for the region until the early 20th century. The girls spent the day hiking among the Sataf pools, water canals and cultivated terraces while trying to imagine what it was like to live there in the past.
During a picnic lunch, one of the girls told stories of her past EcoPeace related trip to Japan. At the end of the day, everyone attended a soap-making workshop at Es-Sense; a local educational-productive enterprise where students from the regional high schools create products working alongside special needs’ youth from all over Jerusalem.
National Teacher Seminars
EcoPeace has held numerous teacher seminars over the past three months in Shefar’am, Taibeh and Beer Sheva to introduce teachers to the GWN Resource Guide for Environmental Educators. They learned about the geography of cross-border water basins as well as creative projects they could use to connect their own students to regional water issues.
Several of the seminars even included a tour to a basin, which highlighted environmental issues affecting local water resources and showed the educators the importance of cross-border cooperation in solving environmental problems.
Regional Youth Camp in Jordan
On February 5th and 6th, the Good Water Neighbors (GWN) project organized a regional youth camp at the Sharhabil bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan. The participants consisted of alumni and youth from the Jordan Valley, Irbid, Kishon and Muqata watersheds. They learned about the importance of cross-border cooperation and environmental peacebuilding while hiking and enjoying the beauty of the area at this time of year. As one camper put it “The camp gave an added value to studying in class because it connected us to water and ecology, finding out about ourselves and others that broke stereotypes and prejudice, because it is the first time we are with different people from us.”
“Good Water Neighbors” (GWN) Cross Border Youth Camp
A GWN cross border youth camp was held at the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh EcoPark in Jordan from January 14th to 16th with 32 Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli participants. The camp began with introductory “ice breaking” games to get the youth acquainted with each other.On the second day, the group had fun hiking the hills above the Ziglab Dam and held an outdoor barbeque lunch.
The camp was a great experience for all, demonstrating that even in these difficult times we are able to bring youth together to better understand the water reality of each side and become strong advocates for a more just and sustainable water future.