Introduction
A project based on sets of cross-border partnering communities sharing a common water source, promoting environmental awareness & peace building
The "Good Water Neighbors" (GWN) project was established by EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (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.
 
Achievements Phase I
Achievements Phase II
Achievements Phase III
Achievements Phase IV
(and ongoing...)

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.

Initially eleven Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian communities were selected to participate in Phase I of the project from 2001 to 2005. Phase II of the GWN project expanded the communities involved from eleven to seventeen. Further expansion now includes 28 communities, supporting FoEME's efforts in all the region's shared water resources; the Dead Sea, Jordan River and the Mountain and Coastal Aquifers.

From the outset, the project has chosen 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.

Much was achieved by the project in Phase I:
- The GWN team created a group 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.

- It launched a public petition concerning a common cross border water problem that needs to be solved for each pair of neighbouring communities.

- It organized several workshops on water-wise issues at the community and regional level, focusing on the potential role of relevant stakeholders.

- 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.

- It produced a great deal of public awareness, campaign materials.

GWN has seen real progress in the environmental awareness of communities and the development of cooperative initiatives.

In each community, field staff has worked in close partnership with youth and adults to improve their environment, and to create awareness of their own and their neighbouring community's water reality. In each community water-saving devices were installed in all public buildings and schools were transformed into water saving model buildings. The water trustees themselves carried out surveys of all water taps in public buildings within their community and then, by installing the devices, cut by a third the amount of water used in public buildings. In each school involved in the project the principal, teachers, students and even the janitor helped design a model system designed specifically to their needs - for example, a simple device that would catch rainwater falling on the roof of school buildings, or collect the wastewater of drinking fountains or the water condensation created by air-conditioning systems -- all to be re-used for the flushing of toilets, watering the school garden and, in some schools, to provide additional water for drinking purposes. These schools now serve as examples for renovating other schools throughout the respective education jurisdictions.

Significant advances were made in encouraging community leaders to develop common solutions to their water management problems. Having gained the trust of residents the project was able to focus on policy level changes by involving municipal leaders. Many of the participating GWN communities were situated along the banks of the Jordan River and around the Dead Sea. After researching the issues facing the Jordan River and Dead Sea, publishing reports and holding stakeholder meetings, a mayor's network was created by the project. The purpose of the network is to identify and express the common concern of the mayors involved - such as local impacts of the sorry state of the Jordan River, now mostly filled with sewage rather then fresh water, flowing down to its lower section; and the demise of the Dead Sea, which is falling by a meter each year due to the diversion of the fresh water from the River Jordan.

Other initiatives include the development of a master plan for the Tsur Hadassah (Israel) and Wadi Fukin (Palestine) area, and prevention of the Separation Barrier from being built beyond the Green Line. Both initiatives illustrate how water can create the initial trust that provides the basis for cooperative work beyond water issues such as land use, economic and tourist development.

There has been important recognition of the significance of this project. At various instances the project has been presented at meetings and seminars held in the European Parliament, the US Congress, aid agency gatherings and, most recently, before a U.N. panel held in New York entitled "The role of NGO's in promoting peace in the Middle East".

Without understating the difficulties faced, the frustrations experienced and, at times, the real threats faced by the individuals involved in the project, we completed the first stage of the project with a great degree of satisfaction. Through the water issue the project has given us the opportunity to touch the hearts and minds of people in the communities that the project is active and in the process advance the possibilities of long-term peace in our still troubled part of the world.

Much has been achieved by the project during Phase II as well:

(1) In placing the organization and its vision at the forefront of the political agenda able to increasingly influence political decision making. Achievements include:

- being asked to advise the staff of Quartet Representative Tony Blair on cross border water and infrastructure issues following a presentation on our GWN community of Auja as a case study to depict water allocation issues between Israeli settlements and Palestinian towns and villages.

- being chosen by "The Elders" to learn about the "Good Water Neighbors" project's grassroots peacemaking efforts focusing on the communities of Wadi Fukin and Tzur Hadassah and their efforts to stop the 'separation barrier' from being built.

- leading discussions following the release of the World Bank Report entitled "Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development" involving the World Bank, the Israeli Water Authority, the Palestinian Water Authority and academia.

- being asked to give a key note address in the important World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden - a primary focus at this important international water conference was transboundary water management, with Munqeth Mehyar, FoEME Jordanian Director giving the keynote speech;

- receiving the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. FoEME was recognized for our ability to “turn an area of conflict - water - into a platform for on-the-ground cooperation, to promote problem solving through people-to-people contact and for advancing regional development and creating necessary conditions for lasting peace".

- receiving TIME Magazines "Heroes of the Environment 2008" award, for leading environmental activism that fosters peace, and most notably for promoting cooperation over the shared water resources of the region.

- being included in a declaration adopted by the Euro Mediterranean Ministerial conference on Water's list of projects for FoEME's initiative to rehabilitate the lower Jordan River system.

- leveraging over $75 million for potential investment in infrastructure and other activities in the communities, particularly Palestinian communities.

(2) Much has been achieved at the grassroots level as reflected by Palestinian and Israeli community cross border efforts tabled for the period 2008/9 only as follows:

With Youth:
- 1,600 Youth "Water Trustees" have undertaken weekly or bi-weekly environmental education activities and have learned about regional water issues from the “WaterCare” program.

- 70 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.

- 4,772 publications (posters, stickers or brochures) have been published and distributed in relation to these campaigns.

- Youth were also active in the development of the Environmental Education Center in Auja (Palestine), the EcoPark in Sheikh Hussein (Jordan) and the EcoCenter in Ein Gedi (Israel). The purpose of the Ecological centers is to advance the capacity of youth on environmental issues and cross border water awareness.

These activities have resulted in the empowerment of Water Trustees to carry out actions that promote water sustainability in their communities. Empowerment, once experienced, allows the youth to take on new challenges and be more active in their community with a more positive outlook for a common future with their neighbor.

With Adult Residents:
- Efforts to support cross border cooperation and a healthy environment resulted in 359 "Neighbors Paths" tours being given to over 10,000 participants over the course of the last 2 years.

- 560 adults residents have participated in cross border meetings with their neighbors

- Local tour operators have visited the Neighbors Paths tours and are incorporating them in their own tours in the region;

- The German Tour Agency, Studiosus, has expressed great interest in the proposed Jordan River Peace Park, initiated by FoEME and the Israeli and Jordanian GWN communities that reside on both sides of the River. Studiosos will incorporate the proposed Peace Park site into their tours to the region, offering it to approximately 1,500 tourists annually.

With Mayors:
- 123 meetings have been held with mayors, entrepreneurs and potential investors to the Palestinian and Israeli communities alone.

- 2 communities in particular in the south of the Dead Sea have solved a serious environmental problem that plagued the area - sandflies.

- The Israeli / Palestinian governmental Joint Water Committee adopted and approved the GWN Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Mayors of the neighboring communities of Baka el Gharbia (Israeli) and Baka el Sharkia (Palestinian), leading to the future treatment of Baka Sharkia wastewater in Baka Gharbia.

- Renewed cooperation between Emek Hefer and Tulkarem mayors over joint waste water management issues, following several recent, successful meetings.

- The project potentially leveraged over $75 Million worth of investments in the GWN communities, concretely allowing mayors to identify the peace dividend of their cross border efforts.

And during Phase III (2009-2011), we are delighted to share the following achievements:   [Phase IV is currently under way... updates / achievements to be posted soon...]
 
With Youth:
- A total of 870 Youth "Water Trustees" participated in weekly or bi-weekly environmental education activities. 
 
-The project over the 2 year period included 1,564 youth who learned about regional water issues from the “WaterCare” program.
 
-100 youth underwent ecological training together, teaching the youth eco-building skills, so that they could utilize this knowledge in the implementation of eco-facilities in their own communities.
 
-  Ecofacilities were built in each community.
 
- Youth led a successful joint campaign on their shared water resources of the Mountain Aquifer, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, according to each community's geographic placement. Campaign materials included posters, stickers, films and GIS maps.
* Project evaluation by the Levinsky College confirmed that "the GWN 'Water Trustee' youth had more positive attitudes toward all the aspects that were examined in the research than the control group. These aspects included the ones associated with the ecological goal – attitudes toward water resources – as well as the ones associated with the social/political aspects of coexistence and interaction between the two nations. Furthermore, the program influenced the perception of interpersonal relations and increased awareness for the purpose of working together toward coexistence. The effect of the project was manifested among the youth from both nations – Jewish youth from Israel and Arab youth from the PA."
 
With Adult residents:
- Efforts to support cross border cooperation and a healthy environment resulted in 545 Neighbors Paths tours being given to a total of 15,418 people.
* Evaluations of these tours concluded that they contributed to the understanding of the water problems facing the neighboring communities, contributed to the understanding of environmental perceptions and contributed to the perception of coexistence and the need to share the water resources.
 
With Mayors:
- Over the two years of the project, 520 adults and mayors, resident entrepreneurs from the communities participated in the annual mayors and adult regional event, giving an important platform for an exchange of ideas and knowledge.  
 
- 509 meetings were held with mayors, entrepreneurs and potential investors duringr this phase of the project. 
 
- These meetings have led to the project leveraging $240,000,000 for potential investment in infrastructure and other improvements in many of the Good Water Neighbors communities during 2009-2011. 
 
- Cross border mayors' meetings took place during the life of the project, resulting in 8 cross border initiatives identified between partnering communities. They are as follows:
 
1. Jordan Valley RC and Beit She'an Regional Council (Israel) / Muaz bin Jabal (Jordan) – Jordan River Peace Park. Mayors have reiterated time and again their cooperation to develop a cross border Peace Park in the Naharayim / Bakoura area.
 
2. All Jordan River Valley communities (Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian) – cooperation to remove pollutants from the Lower Jordan River and promote the River's rehabilitation. Waste Water Treatment plants now being built in the Jordan Valley Regional Council and the Beit She'an Regional Council, a new WWTP recently broke ground in Muaz bin Jabal (funded by USAID), and a commitment to build a WWTP in Jericho (to be funded by JICA).
 
3. Baka Gharbia (Israel) / Baka Sharkia (Palestine) – mayors are promoting the development of a sewage network system in Baka Sharkia that will then be connected to the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Baka Gharbia across the border. This has needed the consent of both the Israeli and Palestinian Water Authorities, who have agreed. Many follow up meetings and decisions have been taken during this project phase to move ahead with the implementation.
 
4. Emek Hefer (Israel) / Tulkarem (Palestine) – have agreed to cooperate on the cleaning and rehabilitation of the Alexander Stream that runs through both their communities.
 
5. Eshkol RC (Israel) / Yatta (Palestine) – are cooperating on efforts to promote a Waste Water Treatment Plant to be built in the Hebron area, treating the sewage and effluents that are now dumped into the Hebron Stream, their shared water resource.
 
6. Tamar RC (Israel) / Safi (Jordan) – renewing cooperative efforts to find a solution to the housefly problem that has plagued their area.
 
7. Tsur Hadassah (Israel) / Wadi Fukin (Palestine) – cooperation to promote sanitation solutions in the West Bethlehem areas.
 
8. Gilboa RC (Israel) / Jenin (Palestine) – cooperation to rehabilitate the upper section of the Kishon River, the water resource shared by both communities, and the development of a green area / park on both banks of the River.
 
Other achievements include:
1. being invited to present the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project to the European Union Parliament, leading to the adoption of a historic resolution that directly calls upon leaders in the region to address the state of the Jordan River and on the European Commission to consider allocation of financial resources to help rehabilitate the river.
 
2. being awarded the 2010 Israeli Green Globe Award for our GWN project as the best Environmental Education project of the year.
 
3. being awarded the 2010 Euro-Med Award for Dialogue between Cultures, an annual prize, sponsored by the Anna Lindh Euro Med Foundation.
 
4. being awarded the first Aristotle Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment for "outstanding contributions towards protecting and improving the environment".
 
5. being chosen as one of 10 educational projects chosen to present its activities at the first "Sachnin-Oranim Conference for Education for Tolerance and Coexistence".
 
6. completion of the Auja Environmental Education Center with a ceremony held on Earth Day 2011 with the Palestinian Minister of Tourism.
 
7. holding a symposium in Jericho that highlighted the importance of a healthy, clean and rehabilitated Lower Jordan River for the development of the Palestinian economy, and thereafter, receiving a letter of support from Palestinian Minster of Water, Mr. Shaddad Attilli, endorsing FoEME's efforts to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan River and our work towards more equitable water sharing between Israel and the PA.
 
8. having the Israeli / Palestinian governmental 'Joint Water Committee 'adopt and approve the GWN Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Mayors of the neighboring communities of Baka el Gharbia (Israeli) and Baka el Sharkia (Palestinian), leading to the future treatment of Baka Sharkia wastewater in Baka Gharbia.
 
9. being involved in the Israeli government seeking to place the rehabilitation of the River Jordan and the Jordan River Peace Park on the regional political agenda.
 
10. being asked to give a key note address in the important World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden – a primary focus at this important international water conference was transboundary water management; Munqeth Mehyar, FoEME Jordanian Director gave the keynote speech.
 
11. presenting and participating in meetings during the Istanbul Water Conference, another important gathering of world water experts.
 
12. having the GWN project model being adopted by other organizations in the region and other countries in conflict (India / Pakistan).
 
13. receiving extensive media coverage, including the Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian, PBS News Hour, Participant Media (producers of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"), National Geographic, TIME magazine and locally, in Haaretz, Globes, the Jordan Times, Ma'an News Agency and Al Jazeera.
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Summary of Achievements of Phase IV
This phase of the GWN project saw expansion to 28 communities with the addition of 3 communities in the Jerusalem area to include 11 communities in Palestine, 9 in Israel, and 8 in Jordan. The project continued to work with youth and educators, community residents, as well as mayors and municipalities, on shared water and environmental concerns, creating many opportunities for cross border meetings & cooperation.
 
The youth & education component of this project phase saw the development of our own Water and Environment Education Resource Guide, to complement the "WaterCare" book that had been used in previous years. Staff and educators met together to coordinate ideas, to decide on the inclusion of the many hands-on activities collected, as well as important cross border messages. The Resource Guide was peer-reviewed in two regional teacher's seminars held during the project, with recommendations incorporated into the final versions, both in Hebrew and Arabic. Of the many environmental education youth "Water Trustees" activities undertaken during this project phase – local site tours, creating community "hazard maps", GIS software trainings - it was the regional ecological building workshop and the development of eco-facilities, as well as the cross border neighbors visits / youth camps that had the most impact on the youth. Ecofacilities built in each community demonstrated a water conservation model - or an environmentally friendly building technique - giving the youth the important feeling that even they can contribute to finding solutions to our water and environment challenges. Youth cross border visits and regional camps gave every single student an opportunity otherwise not available to them: to meet their neighbors across the border. Cross border visits would customarily begin with youth having reservations about their counterparts, including insecurities, language barriers, etc., and invariably end up with breaking down the stereotyped character so embedded in our cultures. Youth left each cross border camp with a deep and mutual understanding of our shared environment and water resources, and newly made friends.
 
The GWN project also worked with the adult residents and the local leadership in each community, with this project phase identifying specific "Priority Initiatives"; environmental challenges needing joint urgent attention. The cross-border criteria of each initiative served to further raise understanding of the interdependency of our water resources amongst the residents and local leadership, and the need to work together to solve shared challenges. Consultation sessions with community residents were integral to gaining the buy-in to the projects, without which FoEME could not have presented the initiatives to the donor community. Cross border meetings were held with mayors & municipal representatives to continue momentum & plan next steps for furthering each joint project, in addition to holding two regional mayor's conferences, one in Jericho and one in Herziliya. Both conferences included high-level decision makers present, giving legitimacy to the cooperation being fostered. 100's of meetings & site tours with local stakeholders, decision makers (including Parliament) and potential investors leveraged $125 Million USD to advance these 'Priority Initiatives' projects during this project phase alone.
 
As part of FoEME's monitoring and evaluation process, we are proud to share specific indicators that we were requested to measure - that all surpassed our target percentage of 80%:
 
1. % o f participants who gain knowledge of shared water and environmental issues and their interdependent nature - The results show that 92 % of the interviewees reported to have gained or have demonstrated an acquired knowledge of shared water and environmental issues and their interdependent nature due to their participation in or connection with the project.
 
2. % of participants who understand the necessity to work together to protect their shared water resources - 86 % of the beneficiaries understand the necessity to work together to protect their shared water resources. In fact, 52 % disagree that it is at all possible to protect shared water resources without working together
 
3. % of participants who demonstrate a more positive attitude towards their neighbors across the Green Line - 78 % of the beneficiaries demonstrated a more positive attitude towards their neighbors across the green line. The rest did not demonstrate a negative attitude – they were mostly youth who did not take part in cross-border activities. About 6% demonstrated skepticism, holding that cross-border cooperation and changing one's perception of the other cannot advance political and/or water justice.
 
4. % of Youth Water Trustees understand the necessity to work together to protect their shared water resources, based on participation in regional workshops & joint campaigns - 96% of Youth Water Trustees understand the necessity to work together to protect their shared water resources, based on participation in regional workshops & joint campaigns. Furthermore, 72% hold it is not possible to protect shared water resources without working together. The camps are the culmination of uni-lateral process of learning about this necessity. The evaluators observe that the multi-lateral encounter reinforces this understanding after the youth learn they have a partner from the other side to realize this necessity together
 
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The Project staff in Palestine, Israel and Jordan includes:

- Three Project coordinators, one from each country

- Twenty eight field researchers who live in, or near, a community or cluster of communities that participate in the Partnering Community Program. They collect and publish field information, organize community activities and take an active role in the regional campaigns initiated.

- Six expert advisors (two out of each political entity) accompanied the first stage of the project through advising, evaluating progress and sharing their experience.

- The project is managed by the Project Director, and was also accompanied at first by an international advisory committee from Europe and the US that contributed comments, ideas, and shared experience with water issues and bottom up management strategies.

(Choose Photo Albums entitled "Good Water Neighbors", "GWN Joint Hike 6.06" and "Beit Shean Ecological Building Workshop" for general photos of the GWN project)
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The GWN project has been supported over the years by the EU SMAP program, the US Government Wye River Program, the British Government's Global Opportunities Fund, the EU Partnership For Peace program, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation, USAID's Conflict Management and Mitiagation program, and Belgium's Peace Building Desk, Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.
It is presently being supported by USAID's Conflict Management and Mitigation program - "from the American People", the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the European Union's Partnerships for Peace program, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

This project document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

http://foeme.org/www/../uploads/13641129460~^$^~Joint Israeli Palestinian Study Tour in Emek Hefer.JPG
http://foeme.org/www/../uploads/14018809800~^$^~EU partnership for peace logo.JPG