European Commission Fifth RTD Framework Programme

A Future for The Dead Sea: Options for a More Sustainable Water Management

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Focus Group Meetings


National FGMs

The Need for Focus Group Meetings

           Focus Group Meetings (FGMs) are essential to Ensure the involvement of users and stakeholders, and dissemination of results to local/regional decision makers and stakeholders (“it is essential that the process is open to the scrutiny of those who will be affected"), and to the scientific community. An additional goal is to increase public awareness and to communicate that there are realistic options for a more sustainable water man­agement in the Dead Sea Basin.

            Users of results (communities, industry, authorities) were invited to participate in the project through Focus Group Meetings. Two ½-day Focus Group Meetings were or are to be organized per riparian country. Invited users will be informed about the status of the project and will be requested to comment, and define their requirements for information. FGMs were instrumental in adding contexture and refining the project Scenarios.  The following are summaries of FGMs held in Israel, Jordan and Palestine.


             The First Focus Group Meeting was held with residents and Farmers of the Dead Sea Basin in Tamar Regional Council.


Yael Maor – Director, Dead Sea R&D

Dudi Kadosh – Tamar Regional Council

Arye Shahal – Ein Gedi, Kibbutz representative from the mineral water factory

Asher Lozun – Neot Hakikar

Udi Isik – Megilot Regional Council, Education department

Menashke – Kibbutz Almog, Director (Business manager)

Avi Froind Engineer, Drainage Authority

David Lehrer – AIES

Vered Balan – AIES



            The meeting took place at Tamar regional council.  Attendees were representatives of local settlements, representing private farms,  (Neot Hakikar) kibbutzim and non-farmers.  David Lehrer began by presenting the objectives of the research and of the meetings. All participants agreed that there is a shortage of water in the area, both in terms of quantity as well as quality. The participants also agreed that this shortage is an obstacle for further development.  It was claimed that there is a potential for more water but production is held back either due to high costs, low allocation or political reasons. Concerning the decline in the level of the Dead Sea, it is clear that the solution is on the national scale and not the municipal level.  The participants related to the damage to the infrastructures due to the sinkholes and the retreat in the water line.  According to some of the speakers, there is damage to agriculture that is caused by not farming all the land (for fear of sinkholes), as well as damage to tourism industry that is both physical as well as physiological. It was agreed that there is a need to reach a balance between the chemical industry in the Dead Sea and the threats that industry presents to the rest of the area.  This balance could be reached by creating an engineered solution to the decrease in the water level at the sea and increase in the evaporation pools (area of Ein Bokek).  In the future, agriculture will become more and more industrialized and technologically based.  The number of farmers will decrease but each farmer will work larger farms and will specialize in fields that will follow world trends (European market). The economic future of the region is dependant on the development of other sources of income and government investments. Politically, it appears that any solution to the Palestinian issue presents a threat to the Jewish settlements on the northwest side of the Dead Sea.  Full results of the First Focus Group Meeting are downloadable (Vered Balan, 2004).


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            The First Focus Group Meeting was held with Scientists and NGOs.


             The meeting took place at ECO Consult Office.  Attendees were representatives of scientists from universities and NGOs. The participants were e-mailed a very brief explanation about the project, and about the purpose of the focus groups meeting. At the start of the actual focus groups meeting, the ECO team presented the project in general.  A brief idea was given about the objectives of the project, and the different work packages, especially on the scenarios component. Progress to date was mentioned.  The participants were reminded of the objectives of the focus groups meeting.  There was a general agreement that the Dead Sea area is facing a water shortage problem, since the Dead Sea is part of a country facing water scarcity as a whole.There was consensus that Water Resource Management (WRM) needs an integrated and holistic approach. So regional and national levels affect each other, it is one big system, integrated holistic approach is called for.  Agreement took place that the consideration of other non conventional water supplies, reuse of treated waste water and, by importing water to the area could all be solutions that would help to alleviate the problem. Improving the efficiency of agriculture will help in solving the problem.  The group believed that there should be real investment in demand management, educating the public and especially the new generations about water shortages in the region, about the future implication of not conserving this resource, and about methods to conserve it. This should be followed by investment in new supplies, looking into desalination of brackish groundwater, and possible desalination from the Red Sea at Aqaba. New supplies could be in the form of investment in the upgrade of networks. Since about 30-50% of water is unaccounted for, a priority should be investing in rehabilitation of water conveyance networks.  There was also consensus by the group about the reuse of treated wastewater, it was agreed that the reuse of treated wastewater should become a standard procedure. It was stressed that this requires more than investment; it needs social work to go hand in hand with investment to spread awareness to people and farmers about the concept of treated wastewater and about its potential.

The Second Focus Group Meeting was held with Farmers of The Dead Sea Basin.


           The ECO team presented the project in general and the objective of this activity, which is gauge the opinions of the farmers regarding the water issues in the Dead Sea surrounding region.  A very brief, non technical, summary of the project was presented. It was brought up that there are two additional water resources in the Safi area: ground water that is not available for the locals as the Potash Company uses it extensively, and brackish drainage water that is flowing into the Dead Sea. The farmers suggested the collection and desalination of this brackish water to be available as an additional source of water in the area. Most farmers were of the opinion that industry on both the western and eastern shores of the Dead Sea was to blame for the disappearance of the Dead Sea. One farmer added that it was the lack of water going into the Dead Sea (because of dams) was a major cause for the disappearance of the Sea, as well as the noticeable decrease in the amounts of rainfall in the area. Farmers were aware of the Red-Dead canal; most of them showed interest about the concept in general, but it wasn’t clear to them what benefits could this project give them. Suggestions were made that it could help in controlling the Dead Sea demise and even recover its old area 15 years ago which could cover a big area of Safi. Some farmers expressed their worries that the Red-Dead could cause damage to their agricultural lands. They are worried especially if the recently exposed cultivated lands that were covered by the Dead Sea will be inundated by water coming in from the Red Sea through the canal. 




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            The First FGM was held with Scientists, Authorities and NGOs.




Kasim Abdo, Ministry of AgricultureAzzam Tubaileh, Ministry of AgricultureBader Abu Zahra, Ministry of Planning Musa Abu Gharbiyeh, Environmental Quality Authority Zaghloul Samhan, Environmental Quality AuthorityAiman Jarrar, Palestinian Water Authority Yousef Awayes, Palestinian Water AuthorityShaddad Attili, Negotiations Affair Department Ayman Rabi, Palestinian Hydrology Group Muath Abu Sadah, House of Water & Environment Ziad Mimi, Institute of Water Studies – Birzeit University Thaer Jalloud, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees Judeh Jamal , Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees Jad Isaac, Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) Khaldoun Rishmawi, Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) Abeer Safar , Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).



           The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) organized the first focus group meeting in the West Bank to discuss alternative management options and their potential future impacts in the Dead Sea Basin. The meeting was held on Wednesday, January 5th, 2005 at Best Eastern Hotel in Al-Bireh. It brought together representatives of the governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the research institutions working in the field of water management.  At the beginning of the meeting, the participants were given a brief idea about the objectives and the work plan of the research study as well as a description of the current status of the Dead Sea Basin and the driving forces affecting the future of the Basin. All the participants believed that there is a water shortage problem in the Palestinian Territories as a whole, not only because of their location within the Eastern Mediterranean region that is recognized as one of the driest and most scares regions in the World but also due to geopolitical reasons, lack of integrated management of the transboundary and shared water resources, and the inequitable allocation of such resources among the countries of the region. These believed that such facts have exacerbated the water scarcity problem in the region.  With respect to the Dead Sea Basin, one of the participants indicated that water management in the basin is not a technical problem that can be solved through the established conceptual and mathematical models. The unilateral management actions by the Israelis and Jordanians to exploit the Jordan River waters have reduced the flow of the Jordan River and negatively affected the Dead Sea Basin. Among those actions, is the Israeli National Water Carrier that diverts water from Lake Tiberias to Negev Desert. The participants believed that the Israelis are mainly responsible for the reduction in the flow of the Jordan River. The participants clearly indicated that the Palestinian negotiators in the technical committee that was formed to follow up the issue of the Red-Dead Canal did not sign any agreement that reflect their acceptance to the project. On the contrary the Palestinian negotiators did not reach an agreement with the Israeli and Jordanian negotiators because their requirements were not accepted.  Full results of the First Focus Group Meeting are downloadable (Abeer Safar, 2004).

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The Second FGM was held with farmers of the Dead Sea basin.




Mr. Fadi ‘Bedalla, Mr. Naser Abu Qatam, Mr. ‘Amer Hssain, Mr. Mousa Abu Qatam, Mr. Fasial Saeed, Ms. Myser Solieman, Mr. Mo’waya, Ms. Khatam Solieman, Mr. Mohamed Al- Sheiesh, Mr. Mos’ab Mohammad, Mr. Salah Daraghmeh, Ms. Jane Hilal Applied Research Institute –Jerusalem (ARIJ), Ms. Sandra Ashhab Applied Research Institute –Jerusalem (ARIJ), Mr. Anwar Qabaja Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)





           The meeting was held on September 6, 2005 at the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) in Jericho. Attendees were representatives of the local and private farmers. At the beginning of the meeting, the participants were given a brief idea about the objectives and the work plan of the research study and well as the description of the current status of the Dead Sea basin and the driving forces affecting the future of the basin. All the participants believed that the Palestinian’s water sector in the Dead Sea Basin is currently facing a crisis due to the geopolitical situation, lack of integrated management of the shared water resources, and the Israelis unilateral management actions. Most farmers were of the opinion that the Dead Sea will disappear in the future because of the fact that there is a lack of adequate water supplies necessary to prevent it from dying, in addition to the decrease in the amounts of rainfall in the area. Based on these assumptions the farmers believed that if the Sea levels continue to drop, the Dead Sea would experience changes in landscape and biodiversity. Also the participants brought up the fact that the decline in water level of the Dead Sea causes high salinity of groundwater which would affect the water quality need for agriculture use. This out come places the Palestinian farmers in a position of displaced form their farmland and form their source of livelihood. Farmers were aware of the Red-Dead canal and they supported the idea in general. However the farmers expressed their fear about he benefits of such project especially for the Palestinians. Full results of the Second Focus Group Meeting are downloadable (Jane Hilal, 2005).


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