Endowed with a rich history where by civilizations intersected, cultures met, and history was formed magnificently with traces still standing majestically in every corner is the case of Jordan. Located at the heart of the Middle East, Jordan presents an important travelling destination to tourists from across the globe. For this reason, the government initiated multiple tourist projects and is currently relying on tourism as a major source of income. Nonetheless, the increasing number of tourist facilities and the constant influx of tourists stress the precious, scarce water resources.
Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) took notice of the negative impact conventional tourism has on the limited water resources in Jordan and decided to promote ecotourism as a more environmental friendly alternative. Establishing the Sharhabil Bin Hassneh Ecopark in the Jordan Rift Valley and the Neighbors Paths projects were among some of the initiatives taken on this regard.
In line with the 2013 theme of World Tourism Day “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future”, acknowledged annually on the 27th of September by the UN World Tourism Organization, FoEME stresses its engagement in projects related to the protection of water resources. In addition to its tireless efforts to promote sustainable water management and its ceaseless efforts to raise environmental awareness among various neighboring communities located in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, the organization has been working on the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River. The River has been drying up due to diversion and the remaining water is highly polluted. The project aims at drawing attention to the dire needs of the river, its importance to promoting regional peace, and to promote ecotourism. Bringing these issues to the forefront, FoEME calls the Jordanian tourism sector to ensure that tourism activities do not exploit but rather protect the precious waters of the Jordan region. FoEME‘s mission is to ensure that the spiritual and environmental value of the river Jordan is sustained for many generations.
This post is contributed by FoEME’s Media Officer & Project Coordinator Samar M. Salma in collaboration with Julia Schonharl, GIZ Consultant.