FAO and the Green Climate Fund (GCF)

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Accelerating change for water security in Jordan

Climate change is primarily a water crisis, but sustainable water management offers solutions, from harvesting rainwater to storing treated wastewater

Water Harvesting structure at Almashare Area-Northern Jordan Valley



Did you know that the agriculture sector accounts for 72 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, making it the world’s largest water user by far? Currently, over 95 percent of our food is produced on land, and we will need 35 percent more water resources by 2050 if we are to increase global production of food, fiber and feed by 50 percent compared to 2012 levels.

But climate change has affected water security and reduced food security, thus slowing efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

According to the IPCC, roughly half of the world’s population currently experience severe water scarcity as a result of climatic change and other factors. In short, climate change is primarily a water crisis, witnessed on a global scale with worsening floods, rising sea levels, prolonged droughts and more.

But there are solutions. Sustainable water management accelerates positive change by building the resilience of societies and ecosystems. Through its partnership with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – the world’s largest dedicated fund for climate action – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) catalyses public and private sector investments in projects that help countries realize their water and climate goals.

Climate-resilient agriculture for water security

Jordan is one of the most water scarce countries in the world and climate change is threatening the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on agriculture for their well-being. Climate change induced hazards such as droughts, extreme temperatures and flash floods have almost tripled in the country since the 1980s.

In a country heavily dependent on rainfed agriculture – 75 percent of the cultivated land is rainfed – efficient water management systems are key to the well-being of farming communities that depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

FAO is working on a seven-year, GCF-financed project with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that focuses on increasing the country’s resilience to climate change by ensuring the long-term sustainability of its water management systems.

The project – valued at USD 33.2 million –  targets four Governorates in the Dead Sea Basin – Karak, Madaba, Talifah and Maan – which are particularly vulnerable to climate change and climate-induced water stress; women represent almost half of the project beneficiaries (212 416 people).

Women as agents of change

In rural areas of Jordan, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men are, particularly because women face unequal access to resources, barriers to decision-making processes and limited mobility; they are also more dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods.

To address these challenges, the initiative aims to enhance women’s access to resources, services, and information so they can better adapt to climate change and protect their livelihoods.

As beneficiaries of the project, women and men learn about drought-tolerant grains, climate-smart field and water management, as well as water-efficient technologies to obtain premium water.

Designed for measures at the national, community and household level, the initiative plays an important role in bringing about a paradigm shift in the way scarce water resources are harvested, planned for and used in agriculture as well as in homes.

Harvesting rainwater to increase resilience

Capturing rainwater for small-scale use is particularly useful in countries with uneven rainfall distribution, like Jordan, as it increases resilience to shocks and ensures water supplies for dry periods.

The FAO-led GCF project focuses on increasing the country’s water supply by storing treated wastewater, harvesting water from rooftops, and promoting the use of water-saving devices to reduce household water consumption.

This project stands to benefit Jordan, plus neighbouring countries in the water-stressed region by reducing the existing groundwater overdraft  – when more water is pumped from a groundwater basin than is replaced from all sources – in the Dead Sea Basin.

As stated by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, our world needs climate action on all fronts, and water is at the forefront of action.

For more on this project and the FAO-GCF partnership, please visit our website.