JNF AND GREEN HORIZONS:
CAPTURING THE FUTURE ONE DROP AT A TIME
By: Leiba Chaya David
Water crisis is fast becoming an ever-present part of life around the world. Until recently, Israel experienced a perpetual water shortage that reached extreme proportions, primarily due to drought and over-consumption.
For the past several decades, Jewish National Fund (JNF) has worked to alleviate and mitigate Israel’s chronic water shortage through a range of water collection and conservation initiatives. For example, JNF’s construction of close to 250 water reservoirs, which store reused and treated wastewater for agriculture, and also collect flood and runoff water, effectively free up fresh water for human consumption. Likewise, JNF’s research on water treatment and geothermal water sources increase Israel’s water supply.
Solutions in the School Yard
For the thousands of school children who participate yearly in the Green Horizons-JNF Rainwater Harvesting Project, solutions for water conservation can be found right outside on the playground.
These budding young environmental stewards are taking action to address a particular aspect of the water shortage – inadequate use of rainfall. Currently, only 20% of Israel’s rainfall is being used, with the other 80% lost to evaporation or runoff into sewers or to the sea. In urban areas, where roads and buildings almost completely prevent saturation into groundwater, 95% of rainwater is wasted.
Together, JNF and Green Horizons, a veteran youth leadership organization, are raising awareness about the water crisis, promoting conservation, and helping students develop skills to address environmental challenges. In 24 schools throughout the country, Green Horizons guides and JNF water professionals teach students how to build and operate a rainwater harvesting system that collects and stores water in large barrels, then redirects it into school toilets and landscaping. The system not only reduces water consumption, but also increases school-wide awareness about water conservation.
After a training period, the project is run by the students themselves, with older children teaching the younger children. Occasionally, it is the other way around. In the Acacia “open school” in Rechovot, for example, an enthusiastic and water-savvy second-grader, Alon (name changed to protect his privacy) has reportedly taken over the instruction of the high school students.
The Green Horizons-JNF partnership has already generated 24 rain harvesting projects, with astounding results. As early as December this past winter, students in one Jerusalem school had already collected 22,500 gallons of water. With some 4,500 schools in Israel, the potential to increase utilization of rainwater is impossible to ignore.
Celebrating the Harvest
Last week, 1,000 school children from 25 schools throughout the country gathered at the Be’er Sheva River Park to celebrate the culmination of another successful year of the rainwater harvesting project.
At the beginning of the mega-event, each class received a map to help them navigate 15 fun and educational stations throughout the park that were created by JNF, Green Horizons, and the Weitzman Institute. The stations required the students to complete water-related tasks, such as directing water from one place to another via channels in the dunes, or assembling a puzzle that reflected an important lesson about water conservation.
The contest’s first prize winner was a class from the Torah and Science School in Sderot, a unique school that combines religious and secular studies for a mostly Haredi population. As Ido, the Green Horizons project coordinator, explained:
“This really reflects the beauty of the program. Because it looks at water from a lot of perspectives – science, geography, local and global issues – it appeals to all kinds of students.”
Together with the other students, the winners signed a declaration of commitment to conserve and protect Israel’s precious water resources. When they return to school next year, the JNF-Green Horizons Rainwater Harvesting Project will continue to empower them to take charge of their own water consumption and become environmental leaders in their schools and communities.
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.