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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


The ministries in charge of the water sector and the institutions involved in irrigation are:

  • the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) in cooperation with the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) and the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ)
  • the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)
  • the Ministry of Environment (MOE)
  • the Ministry of Health (MOH)
  • the National Center for Agricultural Research and Technology Transfer
  • the Water and Environment Research and Study Center, University of Jordan.

The MWI was established in 1988 with the JVA and the WAJ under its umbrella. The Minister of Water and Irrigation is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the WAJ and the JVA. Before the establishment of the MWI, the JVA and the WAJ were two autonomous authorities directly under the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Jordan.

The main concerns of the MWI are:

  • formulating and implementing an irrigation policy and strategy;
  • planning and developing water resources and controlling water allocation and use;
  • preparing a water master plan and the annual water balance budget;
  • establishing a water data centre;
  • human resources development and training programmes for the water sector;
  • public awareness programmes.

The JVA is in charge of the integrated development plan in the JRV. Its main tasks are:

  • construction, operation and maintenance of dams in the Side Wadis and in the JRV;
  • construction, operation and maintenance of public irrigation schemes in JRV;
  • delivering and distributing irrigation water to farmers and collecting irrigation water charges;
  • encouraging farmers to adopt modern irrigation methods and to save water and improve farm irrigation efficiency;
  • working with international donors and farmers on farm irrigation practices and scheduling;
  • implementing emergency plans to face water shortage in dry years and seasons;
  • implementing public awareness and water conservation programmes in irrigation.

The WAJ is responsible for:

  • providing licences to farmers to utilize groundwater for irrigated agriculture, checking the drilling of tube wells and carrying out the testing of the yield of the wells;
  • checking the abstraction from the tube well in the groundwater basins, pursuant to Law No 83 (2003) to reduce overexploitation of renewable groundwater resources practiced by farmers.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is responsible for ensuring the safety of drinking water. The MWI, MOH and the General Corporation for Environmental Protection (GCEP) under MOE all monitor water quality.

Water management

The main objective of water management programmes is to optimize water use in irrigation, adopt modern irrigation and agricultural techniques and increase the yield of irrigated crops and the income per unit of land and water.

The main entities involved in irrigation water management are:

  • the MWI, in association with the JVA and WAJ and the MOA;
  • the private sector through agricultural companies specialized in irrigation and manufacturers of drip irrigation facilities;
  • international donors through grants to the MWI, JVA and directly to farmers.

Private agricultural and irrigation companies provide financial and technical support to farmers. They train farmers in farm irrigation and agricultural techniques. They deliver irrigation equipment, greenhouses and modern agricultural supplies to thousands of irrigation farms throughout the country. They provide farmers with small desalination units to improve the quality of water for irrigation.

Between 2005 and 2006, the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) carried out the Project Design and Management Training Programme (PDM) for Professionals in the Water Sector in some countries of the Near East such as Jordan. The objective of the programme is to strengthen participants’ capacities in developing more effective and efficient projects to address pressing water issues in the region (FAO, 2008).


In public irrigation schemes in the JRV the government is fully responsible for the cost of construction, restoration and O&M. The construction costs of the irrigation schemes and dams are covered by international loans and the national budget. O&M costs are allocated annually in the national budget. Collected water charges cover less than 60 percent of total O&M costs. Irrigation water is subsidized by the government.

In the private sector irrigation projects, investors and owners pay the full cost of construction and renovation and annual running O&M costs. The Agricultural Credit Corporation, private banks and agro-irrigation companies are financial sources for most irrigation activities in private farms.

In 2002, the MWI published the “Water sector planning & associated investment programme 2002–2011”. The goals are to unify water sector projects, create uniform project baselines, schedule projects based on multiple scenarios, identify the role for private sector participation (PSP), and identify least cost solutions for development projects.

Jordan has been giving priority to the development of its limited water resources for different purposes. Limited financial and technical resources have forced Jordan to seek the assistance of international donors and development funds to implement intensive water development plans over the last five decades. Irrigation has been a major issue in the three- and five-year socio-economic development plans carried out by the government in the second half of last century.

Policies and legislation

In 2002, the MWI published the Jordan Water Policy and Strategy consisting of the following:

  • water strategy for Jordan (2002)
  • groundwater management policy (1998)
  • water utility policy (1998)
  • irrigation water policy (1998)
  • wastewater management policy (1998).

The issues covered by the Irrigation Water Policy are the sustainability of irrigation water resources, development and use, research and technology transfer, farm water management, irrigation water quality, management and administration, water pricing, regulation and control and irrigation efficiency.

Laws, bylaws and regulations are imposed to enable the relevant bodies to fulfil their responsibilities and perform their duties regarding water, irrigation and irrigated agriculture, such as the MWI bylaw, the JVA, WAJ, and MOA laws, the Environment Law and the Public Health Law. The latest bylaw prepared by the MWI and approved by the government is the Bylaw No. 85/2003 to control groundwater abstraction and reduce the overexploitation and depletion of the groundwater aquifers by farmers in the country.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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