Water Research and Learning Programme officially launched on World Wetlands Day at Wadi Wurayah National Park

Posted on 03 February 2014
Volunteers in Wadi
© EWS-WWFEnlarge
2 February 2014, Wadi Wurayah National Park, UAE: Nearly every week outside of summer, teams of volunteers from across the Middle East and North Africa converge on Wadi Wurayah National Park to participate in an intensive 5-day hands-on programme to contribute to water ecosystem research and conservation activities, and to learn about freshwater challenges faced by us all, at the recently established Water Research Centre inside the National Park.

Wadi Wurayah National Park is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention because it encompasses one of the few permanent freshwater sources in the UAE, and conservation partners gathered here on World Wetlands Day to officially recognize the Water Research and Learning Programme.

A result of a strategic partnership, the Water Research and Learning Programme in Wadi Wurayah is designed and implemented by EWS-WWF and international environmental charity, Earthwatch, with the support of the government of Fujairah and funds from HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd.

“Together with the Emirates Wildlife Society in Association with WWF (EWS-WWF) and Earthwatch, participants at the Water Research and Learning Programme are participating in a long-term freshwater monitoring programme by collecting freshwater ecology data on a continuous basis. The programme is crucial to implementing the Wadi Wurayah National Park conservation strategy. The work done by EWS-WWF and the Water Research and Learning Programme participants is significantly contributing to this goal,” said His Excellency Eng. Mohamed Saif Al Afkham, Director General of the Fujairah Municipality.

The Water Research and Learning Programme hosts HSBC employees who spend 5-days and 4 nights inside Wadi Wurayah National Park participating in this intensive and rewarding programme. The Water Research and Learning Programme is designed to involve the participants in hands-on freshwater research activities, and a series of complementary learning sessions in the classroom, providing them with the opportunity to learn more about global and local freshwater issues and to form a personal plan to take action to protect and preserve freshwater in their own lives. The programme is later expected to receive other participants from the community.

The participants enter the Park at daybreak to collect data on water quality, observe hydrology, and monitor wildlife. After lunch, participants report to the Water Research Centre classrooms and laboratories to analyze data, discuss results, and discuss their discoveries in relation to water issues across the Middle East. After a good meal and a night’s sleep, participants return to the field and laboratories for another day’s work.

“We support the Water Research and Learning Programme at Wadi Wurayah National Park’s Water Research Centre because it is an innovative and effective public-private partnership that benefits the communities in which we do business. Our employees are able to engage in globally relevant issues and take action on these lessons in their own communities and workplaces,” said David Kotheimer, Regional Head of Strategy & Planning and Head of International – MENA, HSBC Bank Middle East Limited.

“On World Wetlands Day there is no better time or place to learn about water conservation than in Fujairah where the arid landscape serves to remind visitors of the scarcity of water and the archeological sites within the wadi attest to those communities whose survival depended upon this water. Together with Fujairah Municipality, Earthwatch and HSBC, we are working to conserve this wetland of international importance,” said the Director of Emirates Wildlife Society in Association with WWF, Ida Tillisch.

“Water is the planet’s most precious commodity. How we use it more effectively is a global challenge. Initiatives like the Water Research and Learning Programme empower individuals to consider that challenge and take action to protect and preserve water, and the ecosystems dependent on it, for the future. Earthwatch is proud to be part of the initiative in Wadi Wurayah.” Said Nigel Winser, Executive Vice President of EarthWatch.

To date more than 150 HSBC employees have completed the Water Research Centre’s Water Research and Learning Programme at Wadi Wurayah National Park. Over the next five years, more than 1,000 HSBC employees and other volunteers will complete the programme and return to their respective communities and workplaces with newfound knowledge about and plans to address water challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.

Additional contribution towards the establishment of Wadi Wurayah Water Research Centre included support from Canon Middle East, Bosch Home Appliances, Intercoil and Deutsche Bank Middle East Foundation.
Volunteers in Wadi
© EWS-WWF Enlarge

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