As a newcomer to this area, the list of water problems in the Jordan Valley seems both long and daunting. Just a few of these include untreated wastewater, frequent water shortages in many of the towns, and the condition of the Jordan River, which has all but run dry.
In the face of these challenges, FoEME has organized a group of residents from Palestine, Israel, and Jordan in its TAP project (Transboundary Advocacy of Parliamentarians), to learn about and advocate for more sustainable water management of shared water resources.
Meetings With Local Officials
Less than a week after a successful day of lobbying in the Knesset for a fair share of water rights for people and the environment, some 20 TAP community members met again; this time in FoEME’s Eco-center in Auja, Palestine. On the first day the Palestinian and Jordanian residents met Fayez Al Saqa, a Palestinian member of Parliament and member of the Bethlehem district water committee. On the second day, Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian residents had a lunch meeting with the Governor of Jenin, Kaddura Mussa. The TAP residents told the Palestinian decision-makers of their meetings with Israeli parliamentarians in the Knesset, and asked for their help and support. Both officials acknowledged the hard work of the TAPs and were especially excited to hear that the Israeli residents were confronting their own government regarding the unfair distribution of water.
Visiting Local Shared Water Sources
In addition to these meetings, the TAP group visited the Dead Sea and observed first-hand the receding shoreline, clearly visible from the remains of a waterfront pavilion that was now some 50 meters away from the sea. The next day TAP participants traveled to Jenin (a Palestinian city of about 50,000 people in the northern West Bank), visited the waste water treatment plant (WTTP) under construction and observed the sources of the water that eventually flows into Israel (the Kishon river). Jenin is one of a few Palestinian cities to have a wastewater strategic plan but due to financial restraints the city is prevented from finishing construction of the WWTP and expanding its sewer system. Today, only 45% of Jenin’s residents are connected to the city’s sewer system resulting in continued contamination of the groundwater and the streams shared by Palestinians and Israelis.
This post was contributed by Chelsea McDaniel, FoEME Intern in Bethlehem.