Good Water Neighbours
About the Implementing organization
Name: EcoPeace Middle East
Year of establishment: 1994
Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status, Other
Despite limited cooperation between the region's governments on some aspects of water allocation, sustainable management of water resources has not been achieved in the Middle East peace process. Lack of sewage treatment, over-pumping of aquifers, excessive diversion of surface water flows, and difficulty in implementing critical water-demand management policies threaten scarce water resources. These circumstances pose environmental and health hazards to communities, and can be a significant source of cross-border tension and pollution. Initiators of this project took the lead in localizing these water issues by focusing the GWN work on the community level, and fostering the cross-border relationships that are necessary to solve common water problems.
From the outset, the project chose a community to be partnered with a neighbouring community on the other side of the border/political divide to work on common water issues. On the local level, GWN works with community members to improve their water situation through education and awareness activities, and urban development projects. On the regional level, GWN works to encourage sustainable water management through information sharing, dialogue, and cooperative ventures.
Forests / Coasts / Wetlands / Rivers / Grasslands / Drylands / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention / clean up / Invasive species / Awareness and education / Advocacy for land & water rights
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Water security / Peace and security / Health / Renewable energy / Climate action
- The GWN team created groups of youth volunteer water trustees in each community by gaining support from the local school, community groups and municipalities and educated/empowered them about their water realities and wise water use.
- It invested in a public building, such as a school in each community, and transformed it into a water-wise model building.
- Hundreds of youth underwent ecological training together and then led efforts in the building of eco-facilities in each of their communities and joint campaigns on their shared water resources of the Mountain Aquifer, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, according to each community's geographic placement
- It organized exchange of information and gathering of individuals from the neighbouring communities, such as the water trustees, hydrology and planning professionals and decision-makers.
- Thousands of Adults and mayors participated in regional events exchanging knowledge.
Sustainable Development Impacts
1- The regular interaction between local communities over shared water resources created an atmosphere of trust which has been transformed into business opportunities
2- Knowledge exchange especially in relation to the Israeli advancement in irrigation help enhance food security
3- Working towards preserving the shared water resources and the rehabilitation of the Jordan river had a positive impact on water security
4- Cooperation between local communities has been the most effective way to counteract hate speech and biased perceptions
5- Better environment, by definition, leads to better health. Local communities are also working towards trans-boundary solutions to eliminate domestic flies in the Jordan valley
6- Many small-scale renewable energy projects have been promoted in the Jordan valley through the initiative, and some municipalities are already working towards this goal
7- Spreading environmental awareness is a step in the right direction counteracting climate change
The GWN initiative is currently at phase five, and between phase one and five, huge improvements have been achieved in relation to scale and outcome.
One of the main challenges to sustainable development in striking the right balance between a healthy economic and social development on the one hand, and sustaining a healthy eco-system on the other hand. The genius of the GWN project lies in its simplicity, a simplicity that is based on objective observations of reality, with the intention of creating the necessary conditions for a lasting peace in the Middle East.
Through cross border cooperation, issues that matter and directly affect the lives of the residents of the Jordan Valley have been addressed, which created better coordination between people and local governments both nationally and regionally.
The results of the initiative have been independently evaluated, and the way to expand it is by promoting the achievements of the initiative which exceeded all expectations.
EcoPeace Middle East have been approached by other NGO's who are interested in implementing and replicating its innovative approach of Bottom Up / Top Down environmental peacebuilding, especially in India, Pakistan and Bosnia.
EcoPeace's is currently working on creating a Center for Water Security in Washington DC which will offer its services to facilitate effective program development in organizations located in shared water
basins and will disseminate best practices developed in the Middle East by advising on how to best adopt 'bottom-up' and 'top-down' programming and strategies to the specific circumstances in a given location.
Programing will include site visits by members of the target organizations to the Middle East in order to gain on-the-ground familiarity with EcoPeace’s work and the travel of EcoPeace staff to the target regions
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