Coordinating Stakeholders in Jordan on Crucial Water Issues
Jordan is the World’s fourth poorest country for water resources.
The Word Bank Institute’s (WBI) Private Sector Engagement for Good Governance program (PSSG) has supported the Government of Jordan in implementing a multi-stakeholder engagement platform - the Jordan Valley Water Forum (JVWF).
There has been significant advancement on reforms such as, breaking the monopoly of the Amman municipal market in setting prices and distribution of Jordanian vegetable produce in the country.
March 11, 2013 ― Jordan is in the Middle East, nestled in between Israel and Syria. It has a population of six million, 80% of whom live in urban areas and a large, young and educated population. The country has very few natural resources or land that can be used for agriculture and water is especially scarce. In fact, Jordan is the World’s fourth poorest country for water resources. Most of Jordan’s available water is used for agriculture, which is the major source of food for its citizens as well as provides export crops.
The Word Bank Institute’s (WBI) Private Sector Engagement for Good Governance program (PSSG) has supported the Government of Jordan in implementing a multi-stakeholder engagement platform - the Jordan Valley Water Forum (JVWF). This platform tries to resolve some of the most pressing issues of the valley’s water sector by addressing critical water issues through better coordination and engagement between public and private stakeholders.
Creating the Jordan Valley Water Forum Platform
At the core of the Jordan Water Valley Forum is the principle that collaborative approaches, which bring together stakeholders from across sectors, are necessary to resolve the issues of water scarcity. The process, launched in June 2012, involves government representatives, farmers, development partners, water usage associations, and other industry associations which meet twice a year to agree on priorities and review progress made since they last met.
“WBI brings a scientific process in gathering people together to tackle issues that hinder development. JVWF institutes transparency and governance where farmers have a role to play in the decision making process,” said Engineer Saad Abu-Hammour, Secretary General of the Jordan Valley Authority who also chairs the JVWF.
A steering committee composed of four government representatives and four private sector representatives meet in between plenary forums to work on key issues. Before the creation of the JVWF process, the ability for the private sector to constructively engage in a coordinated manner on these issues with their government counterparts was a challenge.
“We need a participatory approach in solving problems, and to work together to improve the quality and quantity of water and produce”, explained Mr. Raef Al-Obaidi, a North Jordan valley zone representative.
The second Jordan Valley Water Forum which took place on January 13, 2013 was attended by more than 60 representatives. They assessed progress on the issues raised during the first JVWF and whether the government had acted upon the requests made by the farmers. They also tried to improve the JVWF process and discussed ways to strengthen the forum secretariat as well as align donors’ assistance along the issues raised by the farmers and identify new issues for government consideration.
WBI brings a scientific process in gathering people together to tackle issues that hinder development.Engineer Saad Abu-Hammour, Secretary General of the Jordan Valley Authority.
Of the fifty reforms identified at the first JVWF, participants had selected 12 priority issues to address. The Jordan Valley Authority took into account the recommendations and worked with concerned ministries as well as donors and other organizations to address the issues, showing that the collaborative process is effectively informing policies and reforms.
Progress can already be recorded on 10 of those issues. For example, there has been significant advancement on reforms such as: breaking the monopoly of the Amman municipal market in setting prices and distribution of Jordanian vegetable produce in the country, securing airfreight space in airlines for just-in-time export of fresh products, and addressing infrastructure maintenance issues along the King Abdullah canal.
During the second forum, participants raised new issues and urged the government to help provide risk financing for Jordanian produce, ease regulatory burden, rehabilitate pumps, reduce the water wasted due to the lack of maintenance of the irrigation water system as well as to improve the road network damaged from the rainstorms.
During the event, WBI reiterated its support for the collaborative governance process that the JVWF represents. Development partners Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU), also expressed their support to the JVWF process and agreed to focus on aligning their technical assistance along the priorities identified.
“It has provided us with good guidance on elaboration of a complementary program,” said Scott Christiansen, USAID’s Director for Water Resources and Environment. “We want to build on your excellent work.”
The impact of the Jordan Water Valley Forum will develop, as stakeholders have identified clear next steps. These include working on implementing new reforms identified along the five key topics tackled by the Forum, ensuring the sustainability of the secretariat, aligning some of the development partners’ technical assistance along priorities identified by the JVWF, and obtaining approval from the Jordan Valley Authority to start a pilot public-private partnership whereas a Water Usage Association will turn into a full water distribution utility. The third JVWF will take place in June 2013.
“Through the collaborative platform of the Jordan Valley Water Forum, excellent progress has already been made towards mitigating the effects of water scarcity in Jordan and improving governance in the sector,” said Benjamin Herzberg, team lead for WBI’s PSGG program. “Development partners, including WBI, will continue to support this important work, as well as find new ways to engage with the JVFW to ensure its long-term progress and it sustained impact.”
For more information please contact:
Program Lead, Private Sector Engagement for Good Governance (PSGG)
World Bank Institute