1. Current Activities 2. IPCRI Fact Sheets 3. Proposed Projects 4. Past Activities 5. Publications

          ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM

 

The IPCRI Environment and Water Program has been in existence since 1994. It aims to promote effective cooperation between Israeli and Palestinians concerned with the environment. It is IPCRI's conviction that by working together on practical concerns relating to environment and water representatives of the two communities can both help to save a threatened environment and improve their understanding of one another's concerns.

Over the years IPCRI has secured the active involvement of Israeli and Palestinian ministries and agencies, academics from all the major universities in both, Israel and Palestine, NGO representatives, and private business. In cooperation with individuals from all these elements in civil society it has undertaken research projects, organized a serious of conferences and seminars, promoted environmental mediation, undertaken development work on the ground and put out a variety of publications.

The program since its inception has had support from, among others, USAID, the European Union, the German, Dutch, British, and Swedish governments, as well as from private foundations.

The director of the program, Robin Twite, was a career official in the British Council and has worked on environmental issues as director of the IPCRI Environment and Water Program for over a decade.

 

      


1. Current Activities 

Ecological Wastewater Treatment for Rural Communities

In the West Bank - Septic Tank to Constructed Wetland


The mountain aquifer below the West Bank is a shared resource between Israel and the Palestinians. Even though most of the fresh water recharge takes place within the area on the Palestinian side of the green line, the most important springs and the most favourable pumping conditions can be found within the Israeli borders. Therefore, the biggest amount of the aquifer's fresh water - especially within the most productive western aquifer - is abstracted and used by Israel, whereas the quality of the ground water is mostly dependent on the environmental conditions within the Palestinian territories. The aquifer is carstic, i.e. limestone formations are dominant which allow infiltrating water to run as underground streams, rather than being slowly filtrated through ground-layers. Thus there is hardly any filtration and amendment of water-properties during the water's passage from the mountain surface to the groundwater level. This is why an elaborated waste water treatment is crucial to the quality of the water in the aquifer.


The
Ecological Wastewater Treatment for Rural Communities in the West Bank project is a true example of Palestinian/Israeli cooperation for the common goals of environmental protection, public health and peace between peoples.

The village of Om al Rehaan in the Jenin Governorate in the West Bank has been chosen as the site of a pilot project managed by IPCRI and financed primarily by the Government of Japan with substantial contributions from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.

By the summer of 2009 all houses in the village will have been provided with a waste water treatment system which will benefit the villagers themselves and contribute to the long term well being of the mountain aquifer.

It is intended to further extend this work by providing similar systems to five other villages. IPCRI is working closely with the Palestinian Water Authority and the Israeli authorities in developing this activity.

 

Objectives

The main objective of this project is to provide an ecological, low-cost, low maintenance, alternative to conventional sewage treatment that can be implemented in rural villages to provide wastewater treatment to residents and offset pollution of the underlying aquifer by untreated sewage.

Israel has three main water sources: the Sea of Galilee, the Coastal Aquifer, and the Mountain Aquifer. The Mountain Aquifer is unique in that it is a shared fresh water resource between Israelis and Palestinians. The recharge area of the Aquifer includes most of the West Bank and some parts of Israel. The quality of the groundwater is threatened mainly due to limited sewage treatment for villages located in the West Bank. Untreated sewage flows into unsanitary cesspits on the surface of the Mountain Aquifer and percolates into the ground. Scientific data indicate that portions of the Aquifer are already polluted by nitrate and fecal coliform which are commonly found in wastewater.

 

The Solution

Many of the villages in the West Bank are isolated and stand on rocky ground. To provide them with conventional treatment systems is very expensive and such systems are unlikely to be provided for many years. Therefore, sewage treatment would best be achieved by an on-site, low-cost, simple, natural solution, such as a septic tank to constructed wetland system.

This system is a natural “green” alternative to conventional sewage treatment. The system is passive, relying on gravity rather than on a series of electric pumps. Treatment is performed by biological not chemical means and the treated water is used for irrigation which would otherwise use potable water. The septic tank/wetland system will replace the common cesspit currently being used in rural West Bank communities. Wastewater collected in the plumbing system of each home is conveyed by gravity to an underground septic tank. Subsequently, the water from each tank is piped to a shared wetland for additional treatment before it is discharged as irrigation water for selected crops.

 

IPCRI believes that a practical approach to problems such as that of sanitation lays the foundations for understanding between those concerned with environmental problems in Israel and Palestine.

 


 

GLOWA - Jordan River

The impact of climate change on the Jordan Basin


 

GLOWA Jordan River is an interdisciplinary project addressing the vulnerability of water resources in the Jordan River Basin under global climate change. The project is financed by the Federal Republic of Germany and includes research teams from Israel, Germany, Jordan and Palestine. The project aims to provide scientific support for long term management practices and effective response to the potentially adverse effects of global warming on the region.

Among areas of study are the extent of climate change, the hydrology of the region, biodiversity issues, agricultural practices, the impact of potential economic and social change, and, of course, water management concerns.

GLOWA Jordan River has been active since 2003. IPCRI joined the consortium in 2007 in Phase II of the project and is a partner in Phase III which began in February, 2009 and will last for three years.

IPCRI's role is to work with other members of the consortium to help ensure that the results of the research undertaken as part of GLOWA, become known to as those Israelis, Jordanians and Israelis who are directly involved in decision making in the field of water management in the Jordan Basin as well as to others with a direct interest in its future - the "stakeholders" whose future either as residents of the region, planners working in the area, or local government representatives, will be directly affected by climate change. A series of workshops will be held over the next three years designed to make this process effective. .

IPCRI is also working in parallel with a team from the University of Kassel under the direction of Professor Joseph Alcamo which is preparing scenarios into which will be integrated both the scientific findings of the research teams and the potential impact of political and social change in the region. These scenarios, together with another element in the GLOWA project WEAP, an on-line data base into which the findings of GLOWA will be integrated and presented in a user-friendly format, will enable decision makers to make good use of the work being done under the GLOWA umbrella.

Full details about the GLOWA project can be found on the website:

http://www.glowa-jordan-river.de/


 

 

                                          


 

2. IPCRI Fact Sheets

 

During 2009 IPCRI will be issuing a series of fact sheets designed to assist the well informed, but not specialist, reader with an interest in the environmental problems of our region get a better understanding of environment and water issues in our region.

The first of these deals with desalination and gives details both of current realities and plans for the future.


 

Desalination - the solution to water scarcity in Israel, Jordan and Palestine?


Water scarcity is recognized as a major threat to the future of Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

It has long been appreciated that desalination of sea water represents a possible solution to the water problems of the three countries. This Fact Sheet sets out the basic facts about desalination in the region and attempts to assess the pros and cons of its use on a large scale.


Desalination in Israel


Until the nineteen nineties, desalination in Israel was limited to small brackish water desalination plants serving remote settlements, not reached by the national water supply grid and a single small plant in Eilat. The need for seawater desalination on a large scale was not seriously considered since fresh water was being provided by the transport of Sea of Galilee water via the National Water Carrier (NWC). This fresh water supply expanded utilization of local aquifers, effected distribution of blended surface and ground waters to all customers through regional grids, and increased agricultural water use efficiency and the partial shifting of agricultural irrigation to recycled wastewater (Dreizin et al, 2008, p. 133)

However in the last decade of the twentieth century, attitudes changed as it became clear that existing fresh water resources, however well managed, would not be sufficient to meet increasing demand.

The fact that the costs of desalination were progressively reduced by developments in technology was also a key factor in making desalination a realistic option.

For further information on this fact sheet please download the entire fact sheet from the website by clicking here.

 

 

 


3. PROPOSED PROJECTS

 


International Conference in Aqaba

- Creating a sustainable Future - developing effective environmental cooperation between Israel, Jordan and Palestine -


Only if there is effective cooperation between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, can the environmental problems of the region be dealt with and the people of the region given a sustainable future. While cooperation at a government to government level is evidently crucial, equally important are contacts between civil society. universities, research institutes, non-governmental organizations, and those involved in private business.

This conference will give the opportunity for the participants to contribute to the development of long term cooperative projects and to share information vital to all parties. Currently cooperation is limited - there are few long term research projects involving professionals from the three countries and, generally speaking, contacts between those concerned with environment and water problems are weak. This state of affairs must change.

 

If you want to read more click here!

 

Desalination

Together with international partners IPCRI is actively preparing a project to form form a consortium of environmental NGOs and Environmental Academic Research centers from each country on the Mediterranean (except for Libya). There will be one environmental NGO and one environmental academic research center. The project is supposed to be funded by the European Union within the framework of the Regional Capacity Building Initiative.

If you want to read more click here.


4. PAST ACTIVITIES

 

  • Between 1999 and 2004 IPCRI organized a program on environmental mediation in cooperation with the Consensus Building Institute, Boston, USA and its director - Professor Larry Suskind:  The program involved a course lasting 120 hours held in Israel and Palestine at which twelve Israelis and twelve Palestinians in the techniques of developed by the Consensus Building Institute. The participants included leading environmentalists from both communities and had financial support from the Rasmussen Foundation in Boston. A new NGO, the Joint Environment Mediation Service(JEMS)

    was established and two cross border environmental conflicts were worked upon. However the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 limited the ability of JEMS to resolve these. Work was, however, carried out over an eighteen month period on a long standing conflict at the Nahal Salman National Park in the Galilee which pitted the National Parks Authority against residents of communities bordering on the Park. Twenty eight stakeholders were involved in the mediation which resulted in a signed agreement designed to limit conflict over the future of the Park and its protection.

    IPCRI is still actively encouraging the spread of environmental mediation techniques in both Israel and Palestine.

  • IPCRI participated in the OPTIMA (OPTImisation for Sustainable Water MAnagement) Project, that brought together 14 partners from 12 different Mediterranean countries.  The project was supported by the European Union. OPTIMA worked to improve efficiency in the use and allocation of water in the Mediterranean region, especially in the coastal zone of the South and East, in order to ensure sustainable development where economies are developing, and land use and demography are changing.

    The case study for which IPCRI was responsible aimed to work with Israelis and Palestinians in cooperation with the relevant water authorities and international experts, on how to best the Wadi Zoema/ River Alexander basin can be managed to their mutual advantage. The primary investigators of the case study in Israel/Palestine were Dr. Nir Becker, Haifa University and Marwan Haddad, An Najah University.

    In the final year, the main focus was put on the collection of data and the involvement of stakeholders. All the partners in the project attended meetings in Malta and in Turkey. 

    Further details obtainable from the OPTIMA website:

    http://www.ess.co.at/OPTIMA/

     

  • IPCRI was a partner in a project concerned with securing Palestinian involvement and with course planning during the first NATO sponsored Advanced Study Institute which was held in the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) in Israel. The ASI is was entitled "Integrated Water Resource Management in the Middle East". The goal of this Advanced Study Institute is to bring professionals together in the field on water management from NATO, partner and Mediterranean Dialogue countries to examine and discuss interdisciplinary approaches to water management and its relevance to environmental security.

     

  • Cooperation with the Stockholm International Water Institute 2003/2006), namely in the course of the World Waster Week in Stockholm where IPCRI had organized a seminar in Water and Agriculure in the Middle East. More information about the World Water Week and IPCRI's participation can be found here and on the website http://www.worldwaterweek.org/.

 

  • Research on the health impacts of dioxin hazards, lead pollution and solid waste.

 

  • Organization of the IPCRI Conference Second Israeli-Palestinian-International Conference "Water for Life" which took place in Antalya, Turkey, on October 10th - 14th 2004. The objective of the conference was to provide an on-going forum for fruitful dialogue, development of mutual understanding and mutual respect between Israeli, Palestinian and other Middle Eastern and international water specialists. The conference aimed to present subjects of interest for water scientists, engineers, economists, lawyers, administrators, managers and policy makers. The goal was to provide a basis for improved cooperation between the peoples of the region and the international community in developing, managing and protecting their scarce shared water resources and for the promotion of “Water for Life” for the benefit of all the nations of the region. You can read more about the conference by clicking

     

    • Click here for general information.

    • Click here for the Conference Announcement.

    • Click here for PowerPoint presentations of the conference.

    • Click here for conference papers on the Israeli-Palestinian water issue.

    • Click here for the Joint Statement of the Participants.

    • Click here for information about the proceedings which were published in 2005 by the Springer Verlag.

 

  • A three day residential seminar on the problem posed by the Disposal of Solid Waste in Israel and Palestine took place in November 1999. It was attended by senior officials of the Israeli and Palestinian Ministries of the environment and health, by the city engineers of Hebron, Bethlehem, Salfit and other local authority officials, and by representatives of the World Bank. The seminar was designed to secure agreement about future collaboration, and resulted in significant, practical recommendations, some of which are currently being implemented. 

 

  • A two-week cooperative training program in partnership with the Nature and National Parks Protection Authority of Israel and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture designed to improve the capabilities of Palestinian staff responsible for the Management of National Parks, Open Spaces, and Forests. The program took place in July 1999, half in Israel and half in Palestine. 

 

  • A program spread over three months (May-July 1999) involving the Collection of the Seeds of Wild Cereal Plants from areas threatened by development on behalf of the Israeli gene bank at the Volcani Institute ant the University of Hebron. The collection was undertaken by teams from the University of Tel Aviv and the University of Hebron and designed to promote long-term relationships between the members of the teams and the institutions involved.

 

  • IPCRI collaborated in the organization of the GIPRI's Water for Peace Conference which took place in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2006. The conference was supported by the Geneva Environment Network and UNESCO and it was organized with the collaboration of IPCRI and many academics belonging to the Universities of Geneva.

    The conference dealt with the Israelis-Palestinian water problems, with the aim of giving a contribution to the Israeli-Palestinian road to peace. More information can be found at ww.gipri.ch.

     


     

    5. PUBLICATIONS

     

            Proceedings of the IPCRI Conference on Micronutrient Deficiency Conditions in Israel and in Palestine and their Prevention. The proceedings are published in the “Public Health Review” Volume 28 (ISSN 03010422) and came out in March 2001. The conference was attended by high-level doctors, nutritionists, officials from both Israeli Ministry of Health and the Palestinians Authority, as well as scholars from abroad and a powerful delegation came from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. It represents an innovative attempt to look at a serious long-term problem and to change the direction of public policy in both Israel and Palestine.   

            Proceedings of an International Conference on Public Awareness on Environmental Issues in Israel. This Conference was held in January 2000, and attended by over 150 Israeli and Palestinian Environmentalists (both from ministries and the non-governmental sector), by representatives of the media, and by industrialists and others to whom the environment is a direct concern. The participants heard from senior activists from abroad about the work they were doing - these include the Secretary General of the Green Party of Germany and the director of the worldwide Unilever environmental Program.  

             Publication in 1994 of Our Shared Environment, a book of articles, ten written by Israelis and ten by Palestinians, on different aspects of the environment of the region. This text remains a basic reference source.  

            Publication of 1993 of the first book written jointly by Israelis and Palestinians on the long-term challenge of sharing water resources in the region. This book, A Proposal for the Development of a Regional Water Master Plan, helped set the stage for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation on long-term water management.

            Publication in 2007 of a book as a follow up to the 2nd Israeli-Palestinian International Conference on Water for Life in the Middle East held in Antalya, Turkey in October 2004. The book titled "Water Resources in the Middle East, Israel-Palestinian Water Issues From Conflict to Cooperation" is the 2nd Volume in the Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace. This source is a compilation authored by a group of leading Palestinian, Israeli and international water experts edited by Hillel Shuval of Hadassh Academic College and Hassan Dweik of Al-Quds Universtiy.


     

     

     

Links to other Environment and Water Sites

 

Administration

The director of the IPCRI Environment Program is Robin Twite. 
He can be contacted at: robin@ipcri.org


 

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