JNF Goes Viral to help Alleviate Israel’s Water Crisis - Online Fundraising Techniques Will Drive the Campaign
April 18, 2008 -- New York, NY -- Determined to help alleviate Israel’s water crisis, Jewish National Fund (JNF) is launching an aptly named “31 Days for Israel” campaign that aims to raise two million dollars during the month of May to build more reservoirs in Israel.
The campaign will utilize the power of the internet, something JNF has mastered: it was the first Jewish non-profit to raise $1 million online, and in 2007 raised close to $3 million in online donations alone.
Using TeamRaiser technology from Convio, JNF is reaching out to its lay leadership across the country to create teams of participants who will forward the message to others and so on, and so on. Easy to register with information already written for them, people can personalize their home pages which they use to recruit others to participate.
“We’ve used this technology very successfully before,” said Ira Bartfield, JNF’s national community campaign chair, “so we know it works.”
The message is an urgent one. “This crisis affects the entire Middle East,” said Chuck Fax, JNF vice president of campaign. “But it’s a silent crisis; one that doesn’t get the headlines.”
There are two major reasons that Israel’s water shortage has reached such extreme proportions: drought and over-consumption. Between the natural aridity of the region and demand that far exceeds the supply provided in the annual recharge of Lake Kinneret and the coastal and mountain aquifers (Israel’s only sources of fresh water), Israel faces the constant threat of a dramatic water crisis.
During the last decade, Israelexperienced an unprecedented series of diminished annual rainfalls. This drought cycle has caused a dramatic dwindling of Israel’s fresh water supply. As such, Israelis facing its worst drought in a decade.
The Water Authority announced that due to low precipitation, high irrigation consumption and pollution, the amount of usable water supplies in the country are at a 10-year low. By year's end, the authority said, the Sea of Galilee's level will likely drop below the so-called “black line,” when pumping will have to stop as the machinery will no longer be submerged. Officials said Israel may soon ration water, a measure last imposed in the late 1990s.
Israel ’s total water consumption today stands at more than one billion cubic meters per year, and its water resources yield far less. That means Israel is over-consuming its water resources. When the water levels of Lake Kinneret and the mountain and coastal aquifers are lowered it causes serious detriment to water quality and the destruction of ecosystems.
According to the UN water index, Israel suffers from a severe water shortage. UN criteria define the minimum quantity of water necessary as 500 cubic meters per person per year. Israel’s water sources can supply only 200 cubic meters per year, only 40% of what the UN considers minimal.
By the year 2020 the population of Israelis expected to grow by another three million people. This means that the country will require another 300 million cubic meters of drinking water in order to cope with this population growth and the ever-rising standard of living.
Jewish National Fund foresaw the significance of the water issue and began allocating resources to build reservoirs in the late 1980s. Thanks to the contributions of JNF supporters, to date 200 reservoirs and dams have been built across Israel, adding 250 million cubic meters of treated water and flood water to Israel's national water economy, or 10% of the total water supply. This water irrigates over 450 thousand dunam (about 112 thousand acres) of orchard and field crop that would otherwise use up scarce fresh water. JNF reservoirs meet about 40% of Israel’s agricultural water needs, thereby alleviating the pressure of supplying drinking water to the population.
In recent years, a growing number of JNF reservoirs have been allocated as storage facilities for treated waste water for irrigation. By using recycled water for agriculture, fresh water is saved for human consumption. In addition, water recycling prevents the serious environmental damage caused by the flow of concentrated raw sewage to underground aquifers and eventually the sea. Currently, 340 million cubic meters of waste water in Israelis not getting recycled. JNF has committed to building another 20 reservoirs over the next two years.
Some JNF reservoirs capture rainwater and flood runoff, which would otherwise be lost to the sea, for irrigation and to enrich underground aquifers.
JNF’s research on the uses of recycled water, as well as the continued building of reservoirs all over the country, are an immediate solution to alleviating Israel’s water predicament and are an integral part of its plans for supplying water over the long term.
Desalinized water will also play a vital role in closing that gap; however it is more expensive than recycled water and can also be recycled, thereby making efforts that focus on recycling water all the more valuable.
JNF is also involved in river rehabilitation. As the coordinating body in the effort to restore Israel’s rivers, JNF, together with Israel’s Ministry of the Environment, manages a highly intricate network of partners and authorities. In 1993, JNF and the Ministry of the Environment created the River Rehabilitation Authority that is the umbrella authority of over 15 governmental, non-profit and research bodies concerned with river health. River restoration includes channel regulation to conduct floodwaters, reduction programs in the quantity of waste and raising the purification level to a suitable baseline for fish breeding and selective irrigation. Over a dozen streams have already benefited from JNF’s efforts, including the Ein Harod River bordering the Jezreel Valley Alexander River near Netanya, a severely polluted 20-mile stream that runs through Jewish and Arab towns. JNF led a joint effort between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restore the Alexander River. Currently, JNF is embarking on a major joint program to rehabilitate the Yarkon River running through Israel’s largest population center.
“Without water, the essence of life, Israelcan’t survive,” said JNF Chief Executive Officer Russell F. Robinson. “We are committed to makin a positive impact on the lives of Israel’s people. We’re just reaching out across America asking people to click on and add their drops of precious water.”
For information or to get involved in 31 Days for
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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.