Good Water Neighbors (GWN) Project

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(Background and Significance)
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== Stakeholders ==
== Stakeholders ==
[http://www.foeme.org/ EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East] (FoEME)
[http://www.foeme.org/ EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East] (FoEME)
 +
([[Palestine|Palestinian territories]], [[Israel]] and [[Jordan]])
The first 7 years of this project were supported by the [[EU]] [http://www.smap.eu/EN/ SMAP program] and the [[USA|US]] Government [http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/exchange/wye/wyeannounce.html Wye River Program], the British Government's [http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/funding-programmes/strat-progr-fund/ Global Opportunities Fund], the [http://www.delisr.ec.europa.eu/english/content/cooperation_and_funding/3.asp EU Partnerships For Peace program], the [http://www.goldmanfund.org/html/home/home.html Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund], and is presently being supported by [[USAID]]'s [http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/conflict/ Conflict Management and Mitigation program] - "from the American People", the Swedish International Development Agency ([[SIDA]]) and from Belgium's Peace Building Desk, [http://www.diplomatie.be/en/default.asp Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation].
The first 7 years of this project were supported by the [[EU]] [http://www.smap.eu/EN/ SMAP program] and the [[USA|US]] Government [http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/exchange/wye/wyeannounce.html Wye River Program], the British Government's [http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/funding-programmes/strat-progr-fund/ Global Opportunities Fund], the [http://www.delisr.ec.europa.eu/english/content/cooperation_and_funding/3.asp EU Partnerships For Peace program], the [http://www.goldmanfund.org/html/home/home.html Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund], and is presently being supported by [[USAID]]'s [http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/conflict/ Conflict Management and Mitigation program] - "from the American People", the Swedish International Development Agency ([[SIDA]]) and from Belgium's Peace Building Desk, [http://www.diplomatie.be/en/default.asp Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation].
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at the regional level. Programme participants include youth, adults, environmental professionals and municipal
at the regional level. Programme participants include youth, adults, environmental professionals and municipal
leaders.
leaders.
-
 
== The Experience: Challenges and Solutions ==
== The Experience: Challenges and Solutions ==
-
<!-- DESCRIBE THE CHALLENGE(S), ISSUES, CHOSEN APPROACH(ES) AND SOLUTION(S) -->
+
Based on GWN publications and interviews with FoEME staff, GWN’s theory of change towards peace could be
 +
outlined as follows:
 +
 
 +
* Hiring local staff and implementing projects on the ground in the communities creates trust between the community and the FoEME country staff and office.
 +
* Educating people on the interdependence of environmental issues and the fact that solutions to environmental problems often concern neighbouring communities, will increase people’s willingness to cooperate.
 +
* Providing people from all sides with the opportunity to meet face-to-face, in order to discuss and work on joint water problems, aims to change peoples’ attitude towards their perceived enemy.
 +
* Partnering the communities around a shared ecosystem helps create or reinforce a sense of good neighbours and promotes a joint vision for the shared ecosystem and a peaceful future.
 +
* Creating a local constituency with residents that seek environmental solutions and recognise the need for cross-border cooperation, helps create political will with the municipal leadership in order to implement joint solutions.
 +
* Once communities – residents and mayors – see the potential benefits for cooperation on environment and water issues they will be open to cooperation on a much broader scale.
 +
* FoEME’s advocacy work, comprising of research, educating decision-makers and using the media as a means of creating political pressure, will complement the work in the communities.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
'''ACTIVITIES IN THE LOWER JORDAN VALLEY'''
 +
FoEME have developed a multi-level approach in their community work, targeting youth, adults and mayors. The
 +
community work is implemented by local field staff and based on an action plan suggested by FoEME. Field staff
 +
are chosen from the community by the national FoEME coordinator according to the following criteria: ability to
 +
work with the community; position and acceptance in the community; and capability to develop relations with the
 +
local authority.<ref>N. Harari (2007). ''Environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East – Analysis of different efforts to foster peace in the region through environmental cooperation''. Diploma Thesis. Berne/Switzerland: Center for Development and Environment, University of Berne.</ref> Though most activities are implemented similarly in all participating communities, each area has
 +
a particular focus depending on local conditions and the main shared water source. FoEME’s advocacy work on
 +
environmental justice issues with national governments complements GWN work at the community level.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
This case study focuses on four GWN communities located in the northern region of the lower Jordan Valley,
 +
two of which are located on both the Israeli and Jordanian side of the river: Tabkat Fahal and Muaz bin Jabal in
 +
Jordan, as well as the Jordan Valley Regional Council and Beit Shean in Israel.<ref>Due to time constraints, not all GWN communities could be included in the field research. Those partnering Israeli and Jordanian communities
 +
have been selected due to their involvement in the Peace Park project that is described later in this study. To complement the interviews and
 +
information gathered, the Palestinian GWN community of Auja was also visited during field research.</ref> While Tabkat Fahal and Beit
 +
Shean have already been involved in the first phase of the GWN project, the other two communities joined in
 +
2005. FoEME’s overall vision in this area is the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
As an important entry point for community work, FoEME sees the implementation of projects on the ground as
 +
a way of generating support among the community and serving as an example for wise water use. Therefore, in
 +
each community, a rainwater harvesting system was built in a school and an ecological garden was planted using
 +
local plants that grow in the dry climate.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
A major focus in all four communities is working with the youth. The main youth activities include education
 +
on water issues in their own and neighbouring communities through lectures and field trips. Student groups
 +
called ‘Water Trustees’, are set up with new participants each year. They work closely with field staff on GWN
 +
activities, such as the building of ecological gardens and rainwater harvesting systems. Furthermore, they carry
 +
out water consumption surveys, and manage river clean-up and awareness campaigns in their communities.
 +
In the current phase, adults were involved in a series of workshops, focusing on environmental problems and
 +
discussing potential solutions for priority problems. These workshops have been facilitated by a local planner
 +
with the results published in a report.<ref>Friends of the Earth Middle East (2007). '''Good water neighbors: Identifying common environmental problems and shared solutions'''.
 +
Amman, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv: EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East. Available at http://www.foeme.org/index_images/dinamicas/
 +
publications/publ69_1.pdf.</ref> Moreover, residents and representatives of the municipalities and local
 +
tourism businesses have been involved in preparing ‘Neighbour Paths’, trails that shows the natural and cultural
 +
heritage of each one of the GWN communities. The paths aim to promote rural and eco-tourism as a means of
 +
diversifying incomes, as well as raising public awareness about their shared environment and water concerns.
 +
The third target group within the communities are the local mayors. Through the local field staff and support
 +
of the local constituency, GWN aims to ensure the mayors’ support for the project and regional cooperation on
 +
water/environmental issues.
 +
Building on activities within the communities, GWN organises regional meetings in which participants from several
 +
or all GWN communities take part. Youth, adults and mayors from the four Lower Jordan Valley communities
 +
participated in the following regional activities:
 +
 
 +
* Joint ceremony in which Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian children presented petitions calling on their respective authorities to promote the treatment of sewage impacting their communities;
 +
* Summer camps where children discussed joint environmental problems, carried out joint clean-up efforts or gained skills that can later be applied in the GWN community work;
 +
* Events of biannual common awareness campaigns that dealt with the shared ecosystem;
 +
* An annual GWN conference that brought together mayors and residents from all 17 GWN communities on topics ranging from low-cost water-saving technologies and potential methods of cooperation, to the Red Sea-Dead Sea conveyor. These conferences were often flanked by public launch events for the main GWN publications and initiatives with participation from representatives of funding agencies and national ministries;
 +
* Tours of the neighbour path of partnering communities; and
 +
* Farmers’ workshops on water saving and organic agriculture.
 +
 
 +
 
 +
Following the regional GWN conference in March 2005, mayors from the Jordan Valley communities stayed
 +
longer to discuss cooperative efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River, in order to improve the livelihoods of local
 +
residents. A follow-up meeting discussed potentials of eco-tourism and the importance of the historical and
 +
cultural assets of the area, as well as a five-day tour of the Lower Jordan Valley with Israeli, Palestinian and
 +
Jordanian mayors and municipal representatives. Two meetings between the mayors of Beit Shean and Tabkat
 +
Fahal led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, in which the mayors committed to ‘the rehabilitation
 +
of the Ziglab-Harod streams as a cooperative effort and as a centerpiece of peacebuilding activities between
 +
the neighbouring communities’.<ref>Cited from the Memorandum of Understanding, Protection and Rehabilitation of the Ziglab-Harod Streams, Pella, Jordan – Beit Shean,
 +
Israel. Available at http://www.foeme.org/docs/MoU_Beit_Shean_Pella.jpg</ref>
== Results and Impact ==
== Results and Impact ==
<!-- DESCRIBE THE ACHIEVEMENT(S), INDUCED CHANGE(S) AND IMPACT -->
<!-- DESCRIBE THE ACHIEVEMENT(S), INDUCED CHANGE(S) AND IMPACT -->
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== External Resources ==
== External Resources ==
-
 
+
* [http://www.initiativeforpeacebuilding.eu Initiative for Peacebuilding]
== Attachments ==
== Attachments ==
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[[Category:Case study]]
[[Category:Case study]]
 +
[[Category:Conflict]]
 +
[[Category:Cooperation]]
 +
[[Category:Middle East]]
 +
[[Category:Arab States]]
 +
[[Category:Israel]]
 +
[[Category:Palestine]]
 +
[[Category:Jordan]]
 +
[[Category:Project]]
 +
[[Category:Jordan-Dead Sea]]

Revision as of 14:05, 9 September 2009

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Context

Focus Areas

Water Cooperation Initiative: Education, awareness and dialogue

Transboundary Waters

Geographic Scope

Stakeholders

EcoPeace/ Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME)

(Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan)

The first 7 years of this project were supported by the EU SMAP program and the US Government Wye River Program, the British Government's Global Opportunities Fund, the EU Partnerships For Peace program, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and is presently being supported by USAID's Conflict Management and Mitigation program - "from the American People", the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and from Belgium's Peace Building Desk, Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

Contacts

Contents

Background and Significance

The "Good Water Neighbors" (GWN) project was established by EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (EcoPeace/ FoEME) in 2001 to raise awareness of the shared water problems of Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis. The GWN methodology is an original idea that is based on identifying cross border communities and utilizing their mutual dependence on shared water resources as a basis for developing dialogue and cooperation on sustainable water management. GWN has created real improvement within the water sector by building trust and understanding that has led to common problem solving and peace building among communities even in the midst of conflict.


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 [Glossary/Sewage| 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.


Eleven Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian communities were selected to participate in the first phase (2001 to 2005), of the project. In its second phase (2005–2008), the project was expanded to include seventeen communities.


Each community is partnered with a neighbouring community on the other side of the border/political divide with which it shares a common water source. GWN works at the local level with community members through education and awareness activities on the regional water situation, by implementing ecological projects. Through dialogue and cooperative ventures across borders, GWN works to encourage sustainable water management at the regional level. Programme participants include youth, adults, environmental professionals and municipal leaders.

The Experience: Challenges and Solutions

Based on GWN publications and interviews with FoEME staff, GWN’s theory of change towards peace could be outlined as follows:

  • Hiring local staff and implementing projects on the ground in the communities creates trust between the community and the FoEME country staff and office.
  • Educating people on the interdependence of environmental issues and the fact that solutions to environmental problems often concern neighbouring communities, will increase people’s willingness to cooperate.
  • Providing people from all sides with the opportunity to meet face-to-face, in order to discuss and work on joint water problems, aims to change peoples’ attitude towards their perceived enemy.
  • Partnering the communities around a shared ecosystem helps create or reinforce a sense of good neighbours and promotes a joint vision for the shared ecosystem and a peaceful future.
  • Creating a local constituency with residents that seek environmental solutions and recognise the need for cross-border cooperation, helps create political will with the municipal leadership in order to implement joint solutions.
  • Once communities – residents and mayors – see the potential benefits for cooperation on environment and water issues they will be open to cooperation on a much broader scale.
  • FoEME’s advocacy work, comprising of research, educating decision-makers and using the media as a means of creating political pressure, will complement the work in the communities.


ACTIVITIES IN THE LOWER JORDAN VALLEY FoEME have developed a multi-level approach in their community work, targeting youth, adults and mayors. The community work is implemented by local field staff and based on an action plan suggested by FoEME. Field staff are chosen from the community by the national FoEME coordinator according to the following criteria: ability to work with the community; position and acceptance in the community; and capability to develop relations with the local authority.[1] Though most activities are implemented similarly in all participating communities, each area has a particular focus depending on local conditions and the main shared water source. FoEME’s advocacy work on environmental justice issues with national governments complements GWN work at the community level.


This case study focuses on four GWN communities located in the northern region of the lower Jordan Valley, two of which are located on both the Israeli and Jordanian side of the river: Tabkat Fahal and Muaz bin Jabal in Jordan, as well as the Jordan Valley Regional Council and Beit Shean in Israel.[2] While Tabkat Fahal and Beit Shean have already been involved in the first phase of the GWN project, the other two communities joined in 2005. FoEME’s overall vision in this area is the rehabilitation of the Jordan River.


As an important entry point for community work, FoEME sees the implementation of projects on the ground as a way of generating support among the community and serving as an example for wise water use. Therefore, in each community, a rainwater harvesting system was built in a school and an ecological garden was planted using local plants that grow in the dry climate.


A major focus in all four communities is working with the youth. The main youth activities include education on water issues in their own and neighbouring communities through lectures and field trips. Student groups called ‘Water Trustees’, are set up with new participants each year. They work closely with field staff on GWN activities, such as the building of ecological gardens and rainwater harvesting systems. Furthermore, they carry out water consumption surveys, and manage river clean-up and awareness campaigns in their communities. In the current phase, adults were involved in a series of workshops, focusing on environmental problems and discussing potential solutions for priority problems. These workshops have been facilitated by a local planner with the results published in a report.[3] Moreover, residents and representatives of the municipalities and local tourism businesses have been involved in preparing ‘Neighbour Paths’, trails that shows the natural and cultural heritage of each one of the GWN communities. The paths aim to promote rural and eco-tourism as a means of diversifying incomes, as well as raising public awareness about their shared environment and water concerns. The third target group within the communities are the local mayors. Through the local field staff and support of the local constituency, GWN aims to ensure the mayors’ support for the project and regional cooperation on water/environmental issues. Building on activities within the communities, GWN organises regional meetings in which participants from several or all GWN communities take part. Youth, adults and mayors from the four Lower Jordan Valley communities participated in the following regional activities:

  • Joint ceremony in which Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian children presented petitions calling on their respective authorities to promote the treatment of sewage impacting their communities;
  • Summer camps where children discussed joint environmental problems, carried out joint clean-up efforts or gained skills that can later be applied in the GWN community work;
  • Events of biannual common awareness campaigns that dealt with the shared ecosystem;
  • An annual GWN conference that brought together mayors and residents from all 17 GWN communities on topics ranging from low-cost water-saving technologies and potential methods of cooperation, to the Red Sea-Dead Sea conveyor. These conferences were often flanked by public launch events for the main GWN publications and initiatives with participation from representatives of funding agencies and national ministries;
  • Tours of the neighbour path of partnering communities; and
  • Farmers’ workshops on water saving and organic agriculture.


Following the regional GWN conference in March 2005, mayors from the Jordan Valley communities stayed longer to discuss cooperative efforts to rehabilitate the Jordan River, in order to improve the livelihoods of local residents. A follow-up meeting discussed potentials of eco-tourism and the importance of the historical and cultural assets of the area, as well as a five-day tour of the Lower Jordan Valley with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian mayors and municipal representatives. Two meetings between the mayors of Beit Shean and Tabkat Fahal led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, in which the mayors committed to ‘the rehabilitation of the Ziglab-Harod streams as a cooperative effort and as a centerpiece of peacebuilding activities between the neighbouring communities’.[4]

Results and Impact

Lessons for Replication

Testimonies and Stakeholder Perceptions

References

  1. N. Harari (2007). Environmental peacebuilding in the Middle East – Analysis of different efforts to foster peace in the region through environmental cooperation. Diploma Thesis. Berne/Switzerland: Center for Development and Environment, University of Berne.
  2. Due to time constraints, not all GWN communities could be included in the field research. Those partnering Israeli and Jordanian communities have been selected due to their involvement in the Peace Park project that is described later in this study. To complement the interviews and information gathered, the Palestinian GWN community of Auja was also visited during field research.
  3. Friends of the Earth Middle East (2007). Good water neighbors: Identifying common environmental problems and shared solutions. Amman, Bethlehem and Tel Aviv: EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East. Available at http://www.foeme.org/index_images/dinamicas/ publications/publ69_1.pdf.
  4. Cited from the Memorandum of Understanding, Protection and Rehabilitation of the Ziglab-Harod Streams, Pella, Jordan – Beit Shean, Israel. Available at MoU_Beit_Shean_Pella.jpg

See also

External Resources

Attachments

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