Birds of peace

The innovative project aimed to improve food security and protect the environment by increasing crop yields through the use of barn owls, instead of pesticides, as pest control agents against rodents. The project spanned Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories contributing to inter-community dialogue, bringing together scientists and farmers form all communities to develop sustainable farming practices, while building confidence and trust between peoples.

It was clearly established that an increased number of barn owl nesting boxes contributed to a reduction in pesticide use, previously used extensively against rodents by farmers. These results were particularly visible in Israel where 1,250 barn owl couples nested over a period of three years. In Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, 90 barn owl couples were introduced following extensive discussion and educational activities with the farmers, who used to believe barn owls were bad omens. Economically, it was demonstrated that fields equipped with nesting boxes were more profitable by at least $235/ha. The project also contributed to reinforcing cooperation between Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, and educated thousands of children on the importance of the environment.

The University of Lausanne is a legal entity with a mission to transmit knowledge and develop science through teaching and research.

$ 235


Health / Environment / Community Development / Education


January 2013 – December 2015


Palestinian Territories/ Israel / Jordan

With whom

University of Lausanne




9.7 million (2017)

Per Capita Income
USD 3'980/year (2017)

Poverty rate *
14.4% (2010)

Literacy rate
98% (2010)

Human Development Index
95th out of 189 countries (2018)

Jordan has achieved remarkable successes in areas such as education, health, infrastructure, information technology, industry and tourism. In terms of human development, Jordan is above average in relation to middle-income countries. It ensures a high level of gender parity in access to basic public services and has achieved universal primary education. A growing population exerts increasing demand on both health and education services. The country also suffers from limited natural resources and agricultural land. Water is especially scarce, with Jordan ranking as the world’s fourth poorest country in terms of water resources. Food insecurity still occurs in certain communities, notably those hosting refugees. Jordan hosts 700,000 Syrian UN-registered refugees.

Sources: World Food Program, UNICEF, World Bank, 2016 Human Development Report, Human Development Indices and Indicators (2018 Statistical Update)

*The percentage of the population living below the national poverty line.