Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) aims to teach students at a young age about the water crisis in the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley spans across Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Not only is FoEME an environmental organization, but a peacemaking organization as well. The water source of the Jordan Valley doesn’t belong solely to Israel, Palestine or Jordan, so FoEME Works to create peace among these communities in the midst of conflict.
“A drop of water that falls into the Jordan valley, doesn’t distinguish towards where it flows or which mouth it goes into, is the same drop of water that has to suffice for everyone.” – Amy Lipman Avizohar (Israeli Coordinator of FoEME).
FoEME is also a member of Friends of the Earth International, the largest grassroots environmental organization in the world. The main goal of FoEME is to advance both sustainable development and the creation of lasting peace in the region. FoEME works to strengthen cross border communities utilizing their mutual dependence on shared water resources as a basis for developing dialogue and cooperation on sustainable water management (Wikipedia).
Based on the highly informative video posted below, FoEME puts a large emphasis on educating the youth. In order to prevent sewage pollution and water scarcity, the next generation needs to start from the ground up, making lifestyle changes in order to slow down the pace of environmental degradation in the Jordan Valley. Not only is it important to inform the youth, FoEME also hopes to reach the parents of the youth as well. If the students are educated on the topics of environmental issues in the region they will hopefully open up their parents eyes to these issues. This is important because most of the time it’s the parents who have the money and are willing to fund clean water projects.
Members of FoEME in Israel started a project where each student investigated different environmental hazards; one group created a hazards map of the Jordan valley and educated their fellow peers. Although over consumption of water through irrigation and car washing is an issue, the main problem in the Jordan Valley is water pollution. All sewage must be sent somewhere and through the Jordan River is not the answer. Water sewage is one of the main reasons that FoEME created a sub project called the Good Water Neighbors Project.
FoEME’s focal program, the Good Water Neighbors project, engages residents of all ages, in twenty-five communities throughout Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, in a united effort to rehabilitate the regions shared water resources.
The Good Water Neighbors Project has had many achievements over the years, but since 2008, 100 youth have undergone ecological training, teaching the youth eco-building skills, so that they can utilize this knowledge in the development of their own communities. Surprisingly there are projects solely dedicated to the development of relationships between Israel and Palestine. The mayors of each country are promoting the development of a sewage network system in Baka Sharkia (Israel) that will then be connected to the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Baka Gharbia (Palestine) across the border. This project needed the consent of both the Israeli and Palestinian Water Authorities, who have agreed. The fact that Israel and Palestine are able to work together on this water treatment project is truly amazing, and shows that even small development projects amongst all of the turmoil can help to bring the regions closer to peace accords.
FoEME has made advancements in improving the quality of the water in the Jordan Valley and informing the youth of ways to improve the future of the environment, but above all have created a platform for the regions of Israel, Palestine and Jordan to coexist. This may be a small step, but any form of cooperation within these regions shows progress, and the sharing of the Jordan Valley is just the beginning. Efforts to support cross border cooperation and a healthy environment is FoEME’s main goal, and it seems to me that they are doing a great job so far.
FoEME Official Site: http://www.foeme.org/www/?module=home