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 from all communities to develop sustainable farming practices, while building confidence and trust between people.

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.



Education / Health / Environment / Community Development


January 2013 – December 2015


Jordan / Palestinian Territories / Israel

With whom

University of Lausanne





8.7 million (2017)

Per Capita Income
USD 37'440/year (2015)

Poverty rate *

Literacy rate
92% (1983)

Human Development Index
22nd out of 189 countries (2018)

Israel belongs to the “very high human development” category. Between 1980 and 2012, Israel’s Gross National Income per capita increased by approximately 81%.

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.