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Dancing for the Lower Jordan River

By: Max
June 29, 2011

The weekend of June 24th, FoEME hosted an exciting youth camp with over 40 Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian youth in the Jordan River Valley in Israel as part of our “Good Water Neighbors” project.  The youth participated in the Global Water Dance, learned about their shared water resources, witnessed pollution that contaminates their watershed and had a lot of fun!

The Global Water Dance is an event that takes place for 24 hours, starting in the Pacific Rim and rolling westward through the time zones.  The goal of the event is to raise awareness of water issues around the world.

On June 25th, FoEME youth participants and the IDC Dance Group (Interdisciplinary Center Herzilya) lead by choreographer Deborah Heifetz danced together to a song composed by the youth (the soon to be released Jordan River Song) at the mouth of the Lower Jordan River, the only part where clean water still flows.

Jordan, Israel, and Palestine share a geographical area comprised of several shared water basins.  All of the Youth participants come from communities located along the Lower Jordan River, which flows 200km from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  Today only 2% of the Jordan’s natural flow makes it to the Dead Sea. The other 98% of the Lower Jordan River is diverted for agricultural and domestic consumption. The remaining 2% of the water that flows to the Dead Sea comprises of untreated or poorly treated sewage, agriculture runoff and fish farm effluents from Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian communities. The youth danced on the Jordan River’s banks to raise awareness and to spread the message: without a cooperative policy that aims to return enough fresh water to the Lower Jordan River, the river is doomed.

In addition to the Global Water Dance, the youth toured and learned about the condition of the Harod River, a major tributary of the Lower Jordan River. Before arriving to the Lower Jordan River, salty spring water of the Harod River is diverted into several fish farms.  Upon leaving the farms, the water has become polluted and is flushed back into the river continuing onward to join the Lower Jordan River (Click here to see a google map of environmental hazards in the Lower Jordan River).

The youth have been working hard all year learning and spreading awareness about the Lower Jordan River and deserved some recreation!  After the Global Water Dance, youth participated in a raft building competition and had the opportunity to swim in the clean section of the Lower Jordan River.  Youth were challenged to build rafts and use them to collect as much garbage as possible that liters the banks of the Lower Jordan River, where there is public and commercial access to clean water. In total, the youth collected 12 full bags of trash in just 30 minutes!

Stay on the lookout for the release of the Jordan River Song and the Global Water Dance video in the coming days!!

This post was contributed by Joshua Zuckerman, FoEME Social Media Coordinator based in Tel Aviv. Joshua is currently finishing his Masters of Arts in Coexistence and Conflict. 

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