The Lower Jordan River, bordered by Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, is of cultural, religious, and geographical importance. The river is significant to billions of people from diverse religions and countries worldwide but is presently under threat. Diversion of 96 percent of its fresh water, in addition to the discharging of large quantities of untreated sewage, threatens to irreversibly damage the Jordan River Valley. Israel, Jordan, and Syria have all diverted its upstream waters for domestic and agricultural uses, leaving precious little fresh water for the river and its once thriving ecosystem. In the last 50 years, the Jordan River’s annual flow has dropped more than 76 percent. With Israel, Jordan, and Syria each taking as much clean water as they can, it is ironically the sewage that is keeping the river alive today. Since much of the river is a closed military zone and off limits to the public, most people simply do not know that the river is drying up. EcoPeace Middle East Lower Jordan River Watch, a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, is a unique regional organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists to promote sustainable development and advance peace efforts in the Middle East.
Yana Abu Taleb is the Jordanian Deputy Director of EcoPeace Middle East. Yana received a Bachelor Degree in Archeology from the University of Jordan in 1996. As Regional projects manager at EcoPeace Middle East, she leads EcoPeace’s projects and advocacy; her responsibilities include supervising project development, planning, and management, serving as a liaison to and lobbying of governmental and private sector figures and organizations on major regional policy issues relevant to environmental protection and national and regional water issues. She has organized many regional conferences, workshops and study tours, co-authored reports and policy papers, and speaks regularly at local and international conferences. As a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, Yana directs the EcoPeace Middle East Lower Jordan River Watch to advocate for protections of the Lower Jordan River that is suffering from upstream water diversions and pollution, compounded by low rainfall due to climate change.
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