International - Jordan Water Security Portal

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


Jordan is considered the most water scarce country in the world and water resources are under increasing stress due to increasing population and per capita water consumption, climate change, and ageing infrastructure. Groundwater abstraction is currently almost double the sustainable yield and surface water resources are fully exploited. To exacerbate these problems an influx of conflict refugees entered Jordan from Syria and Iraq in the last 10 years, swelling Jordan's population of approximately 6 million by around 3 million. International aid provided water infrastructure investment in refugee camps but this increased use impacted Jordan's available water resources.
Failure to plan adequately for the future is leading to continued unsustainable overexploitation of groundwater resources, degradation of groundwater quality, constraining of economic development, and potential political instability which could harm Jordan and the region. Jordan has plans for new infrastructure which will secure additional water resources and ensure that water can be distributed effectively and equitably but their infrastructure plans address only part of the water scarcity challenge; Jordan must also invest in demand management by reducing household, commercial and agricultural water consumption. This could be achieved through reducing wastage and through changing consumption patterns of water consumers.
Effectively combining water supply and demand interventions is not easy as different combinations will perform differently under different assumptions about the future. Jordanian water planners need an efficient and effective way to stress test alternative water plans. This proposal builds on the Jordan Water Project (JWP) (2013-2017) which was funded by NERC (NE/L009285/2), the U.S. National Science Foundation and other national funders in the context of a Belmont Forum and led by Stanford University. The JWP built a national water planning model of Jordan, unique in its ability to help planners understand and predict system performance and to test policy and water infrastructure investment alternatives. This grant application secures the gains achieved by the JWP model by preparing it to be sustainably hosted and used in practice by the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), the main local project partner.
The central objective of the JWP was to build an integrated planning model reflecting hydrologic, institutional and economic behaviour at the sub-district spatial scale through to 2050. The purpose of the model was to quantify freshwater supply and demand changes due to hydrological, institutional and economic scenarios and interventions (policy or infrastructure changes). In addition to representing the national hydrological and engineered water resource system, the JWP model is able to represent its links to the economic, institutional, and social aspects of water planning in Jordan over space and time. The model is of unique scale and scope in its ability to account for direct and indirect impacts of consumer decisions by simulating the feedback between consumers, policy makers and the Jordanian water system.
The proposed work is divided into three 'Work Packages' (1) development of the browser-based graphical user interface (GUI) for system, data and results visualisation; (2) model improvements and extensions; and (3) knowledge exchange and capacity building for using the JWP model portal for strategic water security planning. Impact will be achieved through working with MWI colleagues, knowledge exchange workshops with MWI employees and contractors, publications, and conference presentations.

Planned Impact

The immediate outcome of this project for stakeholders will be an increased capacity to undertake integrated analysis of the environmental, social and economic aspects of water resources management at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) in Jordan. This will also assist their partners and service providers and academics in Jordan and elsewhere interested in improving the country-scale water security. The proposed approach and tools enables for proposed changes in the water sector to be assessed considering the interactions (between institutions and consumers) and feedbacks in the system. This will improve the effectiveness of MWI's policy and investment interventions, support economic growth by increased economic returns form water use and improve water security for all sectors of the Jordanian economy and service levels for Jordan water supply customers (improvement in reliability, resilience and vulnerability of water supply system), improve ecological conditions at sites of interest, and improve water sharing between management institutions, the water using sectors and socio-geographic groups. By implication the Jordanian public, and industrial and agricultural sectors will benefit from improved water management in this water-stressed country. Wider economic benefits of improved water management are difficult to predict, but the proposed work aims to make the available benefits from different investment and management strategies clearer to water managers.

Three tiers of MWI staff will benefit from this project. Water planners involved in day-to-day model building and simulation will increase their capacity and capabilities by contributing to development of and using the new tool. Technical support staff at the MWI will benefit from access to the new web-based technology and cloud computing services. Senior officials at MWI will benefit from the enhanced analysis provided by the new tool as inputs to their decision-making processes. Ongoing support and guidance will be available to the model users with coaching from our staff. MWI will have ability to work with UM so that the online model is tailored to their needs through a process of feedback and development.

The proposed model improvements, graphical user interface and associated training will allow MWI staff to more effectively and efficiently carry out impact modelling using the JWP model to assess new interventions under a range of future supply, demand, and intuitional scenarios. MWI staff will develop the skills to set up and evaluate new water resources scenarios and interventions using the tools, with the support of UM staff. MWI staff will go through the process of setting up new model simulations and evaluating results repeatedly with our project staff to enable their continued independent use of the tool after the project has ended. (UM plans to continue to provide essential assistance after project end, as we are now, and we will seek funding in future to continue to engage with the MWI).

Ultimately, it is intended that MWI staff will adopt the JWP model and exploit its potential for strategic planning of water infrastructure and policy, with Jordan's population reaping the benefits of the increased water security.


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