FoEME is working on an exciting new initiative to establish an environmental education center in the Palestinian village of Auja focusing on water resource education, grey water irrigation and a wide range of environmental conservation measures. The center will run education activities for youth and adults from all across the West Bank, providing tools to mitigate some of the environmental hardships that many Palestinians face such as insufficient access to water and inadequate waste disposal infrastructure. The center will also include an ecotoursim guesthouse, offering visitors unique opportunities to experience both the spectacular natural environment and rich cultural heritage of the Jordan Valley while providing economic benefits to the local community.
The center will offer information, training and practical demonstrations of water conservation and reuse techniques that can be implemented in households to moderately mitigate supply and sewage problems. Practical conservation measures such as building with natural materials, solar technologies, composting and gardening with minimal use of recycled water will be taught to mitigate livelihood difficulties and a waste disposal center will be set up to promote the principles of “reduce, re-use and recycle” to assist Palestinian communities in the face of inadequate waster disposal infrastructure. Education will also cover broader environmental issues in the Jordan River basin, in particular the need for urgent action to arrest the decline of the Jordan River and Dead Sea.
The Environmental center is located in the village of Auja, a village of 5000 people, approximately 12 kilometers north of Jericho. FoEME has been working with the Auja community since 2005 under the auspices of our Good Water Neighbors project undertaking a range of environmental initiatives. The community is heavily dependent on agriculture and recent declines in the availability of water have led to widespread unemployment which is estimated to be as high as 60%. As a result it was conceived to add a guesthouse to the environmental center that could create viable linkages between the community and the wealth of tourist attractions in the area, generating employment and other income opportunities.
Jordan Valley attractions include the near-by Wadi Auja, which is a spectacular place for hiking and swimming in the spring time. The area sees an extremely rich variety of birdlife as it sits on one of the main migratory routes between Europe and Africa with over 500 million birds flying over Auja each year. The center is in close proximity to the world’s oldest inhabited city Jericho and the world famous natural heritage site of the Dead Sea. It is also close to a number of famous archaeological sites such as Hisham’s Palace and the St George Monastary and the bank of the Jordan River where it is traditionally believed that Jesus was baptized. Additionally, the guesthouse will offer unique opportunities to gain insights into the way of life and culture of the people of the Jordan Valley as well as to get involved in environmental activities at the center.
To further the functionality of the Environmental Center, Friends of the Earth Middle East is holding a design competition for improvements and ecological designs of the Center’s rooftop. We would be delighted to receive your ideas!
Related blog post on Auja´s environmental education center:
FoEME Intern Reflects on Visit to Auja Eco-Center