From recycling to water conservation, the East Jerusalem Environment Center is on a mission to improve the city and its neighbourhoods.
Joining the ranks of influential green organisations such as Bustan and the Arava Institute is the newly formed East Jerusalem Environmental Center. Setup in September 2009 to work with two schools to reduce their waste it has since expanded and now works with seven schools, two thousand pupils and runs an environmental education programme for women.
Spurred on by the bad state of the East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, the center was created to raise environmental awareness amongst locals and also to pilot projects that would actually achieve environmental improvement. The first two chosen schools are located in the Sur Baher neighbourhood and the pupils and teachers there were instructed to recycle, separate the waste and also reduce their use of water and paper. Composts were setup as well as a greenhouse in the school’s roof!
In February 2011, the first rainwater harvesting system was installed as the Sur Baher Girls School with the help of Amir Yechieli from Friends of the Earth Middle East. The rainwater is used for flushing toilets at the school and is also an important educational tools as it demonstrates the importance of water conservation and how to save water in practical ways. Two recycling centres will also be setup at the two schools to further encourage recycling in the next couple of weeks.
It seems that Palestine is slowly waking up to its environmental responsibilities. Ramallah recently celebrated Palestine’s first environmental festival and the country’s first planned city named Rawabi also boasts various green credentials. Mr. Fuad Abu Hamed and Ms. Safa Alyan, who run the East Jerusalem Environmental Center also have a lot in store for the future:
“The Center staff is busy developing activities for the coming school year and beyond, including expanding existing educational activities, pilot projects to demonstrate alternative energy and water reuse, starting an environmental youth group, creating community gardens, teaching traditional local agricultural methods, and developing urban goat farming as a source of women’s employment. We also hope to turn our new offices into a green place for meetings, classes and research.”
:Image via East Jerusalem Environmental Center
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