Cleaning the Kidron Basin

Kidron Valley. Mar Saba.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Can cleaning a river bring divided people together? Rena Dam and Colin Lowther look at efforts to clean up an area near Israel-Palestine.

Watch Video


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Rena Dam.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A man and a woman stand on a wall. It is the wall of the Mar Saba Monastery. The Mar Saba Monastery is near the town of Bethlehem in Israel-Palestine. The man and woman have come a long way to see this famous holy place. They have come to experience its beauty and peace. They stand looking out over a beautiful, golden valley. But something is wrong. A horrible smell fills the air. The smell is coming from a river near the monastery. It is so bad that the man and woman do not even want to breathe. They are disappointed. They decide to leave.

Voice 2 

The river is part of the Kidron Basin. It used to be one of the most beautiful places in the area. Now, the river is polluted. It smells terrible. However, in recent years, Israelis and Palestinians have begun to work together to clean it up. Today's Spotlight is on efforts to clean up the Kidron Basin.

Voice 1 

The Kidron Basin is an area of land. It contains the main river of the Kidron Valley. The Kidron Valley is important for spiritual and cultural reasons. It contains many places that are special to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The prophet Abraham traveled from the Kidron Valley to the famous Mount Moriah. Jesus was baptized in the Kidron Valley. The valley also contains the famous Al-Aqsa Mosque. People travel from all over the world to see and experience these cultural and religious places.

Voice 2 

The Kidron River begins in the city of Jerusalem and empties into the Dead Sea. The pollution comes mainly from human waste, or sewage. This human waste is not treated before it enters the river. It is raw sewage. 1/3 of all Jerusalem's raw sewage goes into the Kidron River. Every year, 15 million cubic meters of this waste runs through the Kidron Valley into the Dead Sea.

Voice 1 

This pollution causes many problems. Many people in the Kidron Valley do not have clean drinking water. Their health is in danger. Also, the area loses money, because tourists do not want to come. The river smells too bad. Farmers also suffer bad effects. They cannot use the dirty water on their crops. Without this water, they cannot use their land for farming.

Voice 2 

However, many people see the great value of the Kidron Valley. They do not want to waste this amazing place. They are working to bring environmental health back to the area. Avner Goren is an archaeologist. He studies ancient places and cultures. He told Haaretz news,

Voice 3 

"This is an important valley. It has been forgotten for many years. We have turned it into a valley of human waste. It has to stop. We need to give it the honor it deserves."

Voice 1 

Avner is part of a team of people who want to clean up the Kidron Valley. The team includes Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It includes people who live in the Kidron Valley, local authorities, and other organizations. It also includes different experts, such as engineers, archaeologists, environmental university professors, and water scientists.

Voice 2 

One of the first steps in cleaning up the valley is to build a sewage treatment plant. This plant would clean the human waste before it entered the river. The cleaned water could go to farmland to water crops. Also, the river would smell better. The natural flowers and vegetation of the area would heal, making the whole area more beautiful.

Voice 1 

The team also wants to build paths and green spaces throughout the Kidron Valley. This includes a main walking path from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, as well as many smaller paths. They also want to improve the historical and cultural places. They plan to build visitor and cultural centers for information and education about the area. Their goal is to care for the valley's cultural and environmental treasures and the health and economy of the local people.

Voice 2 

However, working together can present problems for Israelis and Palestinians. The first step is the most difficult. The Kidron Basin is controlled by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Everyone agrees that the area needs a sewage treatment plant. But they do not agree on where to build it. Should it be in Jerusalem? The West Bank? And how can they share the clean water?

Voice 1 

These are difficult questions. Richard Laster is an environmental professor at Hebrew University. He says that the area is so dirty, they must work together. He told Haaretz news,

Voice 4 

"Now there is no choice. They have to look at the issue in a new way. This way must be more open. It must lead to talking and problem solving."

Voice 2 

The Kidron team is not waiting for the sewage treatment plant before they improve the Kidron Valley. They are also working together on other projects. They began an environmental education program for the area's schools. The students visit the river and learn about the valley. They learn that it is a shared resource for everyone who lives there. The program also educates families and communities about the importance of the Kidron Valley's environmental health.

Voice 1 

The Kidron team also gives money for local projects. The projects involve citizens in the larger goal. Some of these projects include community gardens and using photography and art to document the environment. They are trying to teach people that cleaning the Kidron Valley will help everyone. Gery Amel is the Manager of the Dead Sea Drainage Authority. In a Youtube film, he said,

Voice 5 

"We are sure that a clean river basin will lead to health and wellness for everyone. It will be an advantage for local residents and people who visit."

Voice 2 

People can divide land by fences and walls. But rivers cannot be divided. They flow across all the lines on a map. In cleaning up the Kidron River, the Kidron Basin team has to work with a land that is divided. They hope that cleaning the river will bring divided people together.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Bruce Gulland. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Cleaning the Kidron Basin’.

Voice 2 

You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at Or you can find us on Facebook by searching for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Is there a project in your community where people will still work together even if they disagree?


Avatar Spotlight
said on April 27, 2015

Unfortunatly many countries in the world do not respect the rules to keep the rivers not polluted,
contributing to the pollution of the air we breathe. Severe penelized should be imposed on non-compliant countries.

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 01, 2015

Areas like these described in the article are really worth cleaning and recovering because of its great importance to everyone without exception in spite of religion, profession or nationality. People only have one right choice, it means working hard together to reach their goal to improve health and face of Kidron Valley. Moreover as it is mentioned in the article, cleaning the river may bring divided people together.

Avatar Spotlight
Johanna Castillo
said on April 05, 2016

Is not enought that olny a part of people wants to contribute to the change , Posibly will be necessary change the way of thinking of people before acting , all must collaborate with respect and commitment to the enviroment all us should understand that the earth is our house and for this simple reason, we must keep it clean for our own welfare.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on April 12, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos )
To: spotlight
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Tuesday 12, April 2016

Dear Rena Dam, Colin Lowther, Jen Hawkins, and Bruce Gulland:

Once more I want to thank you to develop more one excellent issue for us readers and learners of English. No, there is not. There is a polluted river in the middle of the São Paulo city in which everybody wants to clean it up.  Into this river there are a lot of dirt from humans wastes, factories wastes, and garbages. This dirty river is called Tietê. (Tietê river).  It smells very bad. The current Governor Geraldo Alkmin has been working since his beginning policy management to improve this situation but this river is very large to clean up. Therefore, it has improved after the Governor’s action to clean it up. Thanks!

All the best,
Severino Ramos
São Paulo SP Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 25, 2019

Unpolluted environment is good for health. Unpolluted environment is good for everyone. Each of us is responsible to protecting environment. Each of us contributes to protecting environment. Beauty needs to be preserved. Beautiful, spiritual, cultural, historical places need to be preserved. Each of us is responsible to preserving beautiful, spiritual, cultural, historical places. Each of us contributes to preserving beautiful, spiritual, cultural, historical places. Unpolluted environment is good for health. Unpolluted environment is good for everyone. Each of us builds for beautiful good things. Each of us builds for peace.