Reduce Vulnerability in Jordan in the Context of Water Scarcity and Increasing Food/Energy Demand

The rationale of this project is to reduce vulnerability of the rural Jordanian and the disadvantaged communities in the context of water scarcity for agriculture, increased demand for food and livelihood provision from growing populations, and rising energy demand. To this end, the project pilots a three-pronged, community-based approach, combining water harvesting, conjunctive use of groundwater, and solar power for lifting irrigation water.

Water scarcity in Jordan is driven primarily by its arid to semi-arid climatic regime and by population increases experienced in recent decades as a result of both natural growth and recent immigration/refugee intake from the crisis in Syria. Of all its water resources, the status of Jordan’s groundwater is of critical concern because its use requires careful planning and management to sustain human socio-economic development and ecosystems. Yet, groundwater resources are under the threat from mismanagement and over-exploitation, linked in particular to the expansion of irrigated agriculture.

The application of the three prongs of this approach, bring sustainability and management efficiency to the use of agricultural water resources in rural areas. Water harvesting allows the capture of resources that otherwise would have evaporated. The resulting impounded surface water serves as both a source of water for rural communities and as a source of groundwater recharge through percolation and seepage. Conjunctive use of groundwater and the captured surface water ensures the reliability of water supply for rural communities and lessens the dependence on groundwater alone. The conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water, thus, mitigates against groundwater over-exploitation. Moreover, solar-powered irrigation then provides a sustainable source of energy for lifting water. Finally, the partial mounting of solar-panels over the water-harvesting structure shelters the surface of the water from sun-light and wind thereby introducing efficiency gains as evaporation is reduced.

The project has the following outputs:

  1. a fully developed and operational pilot area of water harvesting with conjunctive groundwater and solar power for lifting irrigation water;
  2.  strengthened national capacities to own, operate and maintain the proposed three-pronged approach;
  3.  established community of practice, empowered and fully responsible for operating the three-pronged approach;
  4. long-term policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks to facilitate the adoption and scale-up of the three-pronged approach and integrate it within national food-water-energy related policies/strategies and programmes; and
  5. outreach materials (for example, guides and technical reports) for dissemination to relevant stakeholders.

The project’s sustainability will be ensured not only by the great commitment of the Jordanian Government and the support of a strong coalition of stakeholders, but also by the involvement of the community at all stages of the pilot project. Furthermore, the piloting of this innovative approach includes an impact assessment from which lessons to refine the approach in different contexts will be drawn. This will contribute to the potential scaling-up of this project. The alignment with the donors’ strategies and the development of agreed upon documents will create a conducive environment for the successful implementation of this innovative three-pronged approach to reducing vulnerability in Jordanian rural communities.

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