Arava Institute or How bringing water can participate to bring peace?

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The bus let us in the middle of nowhere, in the desert. Jordan is very close, few meters on our right, with its high mountains covered of orange sand and blood red slides. On our left, Kibboutz Ketura. This is our first time in a Kibboutz and inevitably the legend is present. We don’t really know what we must expect «  What are we supposed to ask her ? Hum, I don’t know. We ask her to tell us, don’t we ? »
Meeting with Shira Kronich, Vice Director of the center for transboundary Water Management. She begins to describe quickly its point of view about the water situation in Israel : Actually, Israel is a country with poor water resources but with very strong technical solutions. Her feeling is ambiguous, we saw her hesitates, she oscillates between pride and a bit of guilt, or at least, the feeling that the situation is not as beautiful as it seems. And so, Palestinian problem is evoked with the unfair water dispatching and the predominant place of water in the conflict. And finally, is it very important that Israël is a world leader in water if on the other side of the ckeckpoint, in West Bank, 70% of the population don’t collect neither treat its wastewater. Because rivers and aquifers do not respect boundaries!

 

 

And so, in the Arava Institute, we think very differently the resources management: the right scale for them is the community scale… No more State, no more boundaries: all of that is superfluous when you talk about resources management. And if politicians can’t speak, at another scale, we have to succeed, we must get together technicians, scientists from both sides to share, exchange, think together and go ahead. In this idea Arava Institute welcome 1/3 of Palestinians, 1/3 of Israeli and 1/3 of international people. All the students live in the kibboutz, have classes of peace building and non-violent communication between two classes of environmental policy and waste water treatment and they finally learn to build the future world considering the other. A bubble in the desert and in Israël.
According to Shira, the first step is the wastewater treatment. Like this began a program in West Bank: build a lowtech system, which can be adaptable at different scales and is sustainable, treating off-grid communities waste water. Actually, the system is used in five households in West Bank.
The system is composed of some boxes filled of gravels and where grow papyrus. Thanks to gravity, wastewater, coming from the first box, goes to the next one, passing through gravels. It acts like filters and are a support for the development of bacteria which feed themselves and transform organic materials from black and grey water. Number of boxes used depend on the number of persons concerned and of the concentration of the effluent. When the water leaves the system, it ready to use for agriculture. This off grid solution is so well adapted to the West Bank context, which is most of the time remote rural household with little garden for agriculture.

 

 

Water treatment could reduce the water consumption up to 40%, it leads to a reduce of the water bill and increase the resilience and food security of the community.

Today this program is financed by USAID and families who profit of it do not pay for anything.

A new program still for off-grid communities is starting in Gaza with an energetic component added to food and water components. The basic idea is that resources management plays an important part in the israeli-palestinian conflict.