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French Version

Three decades of German Jordanian cooperation in water sector

A 10-year joint Jordanian-German water program is currently operating to assist water institutions in the kingdom to solve the problem of inefficient use of limited water resources for agriculture and drinking.

Dr Uwe Stoll, head of the water program at the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) office in Amman said in an interview with The Star that the water program is now operating under a new structure and has been very successful so far with the previous GTZ–supported projects being integrated into the program and new components being added.

The program, which culminates the Jordanian-German cooperation in the water sector over the last three decades, is operating in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) and a German government grant funding. The total amount of funding for the first phase is € 9.7 million. To achieve tangible impacts at the regional level the water program focuses its activities on the central region of Jordan and the Jordan Valley.

Water Management in Irrigated Agriculture (in particular in the Jordan Valley) is one component of the new water program. The water program aims at increasing irrigation efficiency in the Jordan Valley through the introduction of water user associations, the improved and safe use of reclaimed water for irrigation and a reduction of groundwater overuse in highland irrigation.

The current figure of available amount of water for irrigation is around 500 MCM a year. A substantial part is coming out of reclaimed water according to Stoll, and will increase in the future. Stoll said, “Presently 16 water user associations are involved in participative irrigation management (equal to 40 percent of the irrigable area in the Jordan Valley). ” He noted that “an operational monitoring system for soils and groundwater under reclaimed water irrigation is under implementation and an operational monitoring system for irrigation water quality including guidelines for the Jordan Valley is being introduced”. According to MWI, Jordanian water reserves are amongst the lowest in the world. MWI figures say its available annual per capita renewable water are just 180 cubic metres, well below the accepted water poverty line of approximately 500 cubic metres per capita a year.

Operations Management Support (OMS) is another component of the new water program. It deals with the issue of decentralization and commercialization in the governorates Zarqa, Madaba, and Balqa. It also supports institutional restructuring and preparation for private sector participation, in order to achieve higher quality and efficiency in water management. Stoll expected the current OMS project in Irbid will come to an end this coming summer and that work will start in Zarqa, Madaba and Balqa in October. Private sector participation will be included on the basis of so called micro-PSP. Stoll explained that through this approach, private sector participation is aimed at involving Jordanian companies in the water sector. Stoll said that the OMS project has been able to support efficiency increase and institutional change in 6 out of 12 governorates in Jordan.

In the Northern Governorates Water Administration, the budget deficit was reduced by 44 percent in 4 years. GTZ also supports training management in the water sector. Stoll told The Star that training is one of the priorities in the current water program. It will focus on the managerial capacities in training aspects of MWI and its affiliated organizations Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) and Jordan Valley Authority (JVA). According to Stoll, the water program includes another component dealing with institutionalization of the National Water Master Plan (NWMP) that aims at integrating the master planning into decision making and investment planning for the water sector. The component also aims at an integrated information management in the water sector.

On the ministry level the NWMP was introduced in 2004 as the central planning instrument for resources management and improvements in the quality and availability of planning data were achieved through reorganization and streamlining of data flows and related processes. The existing gap between water availability and water demand from the different sectors is currently being bridged primarily through drastic overuse of Jordan’s renewable groundwater resources and through exploitation of its non–renewable fossil groundwater.

The deficiency to manage existing water resources more effectively causes ecological damage and places the water supply for future generations at risk, according to MWI and GTZ fact sheet. Stoll said that the NWMP regulates the excessive groundwater abstractions from the different aquifers for all purposes, which have resulted in the decline of groundwater levels and degradation of water quality of some aquifers in the country. It’s also meant to protect the aquifers against salt-water intrusion and depletion. He added that in the near future it’s expected to achieve enforcement of the groundwater by-law of the year 2002 as well as that monitoring and new pricing for water extraction will be enforced. The by-law, which is supported by GTZ, includes measures and new rules to control over-exploitation and drilling of illegal wells, as well as a penalty system for the violators of the regulations and increasing the fees requested for such activities. Jordan has recognized that in the face of these extreme conditions, a change in the current management methods can only be brought about through the development of national strategies for resource and demand management and their related action areas.

The German Technical Cooperation has contributed to this positive development through its long term engagement in the water sector and its constructive cooperation with its Jordanian partners. However, the future still holds great challenges that all the involved parties will have to tackle together.

Amman,04 18 2006
The Star
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