Representatives from Friends of the Earth Middle East “FoEME” attended a workshop titled “Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Donor Coordination Meeting: Evolving Roles, Responsibilities and Needs in the Jordan Valley” that took place on Thursday, September 25th 2014.
The workshop organized by USAID/ Jordan “Institutional Support and Strengthening Program “ISSP” presented the results of the Jordan Valley Institutional Assessment (JVA IA) with key counterparts and stakeholders. The purpose of the JVA Donor coordination meeting attended by Ms. Barabara Rossmiller, ISSP COP, his Excellency Mr. Saed Abu Hamour Secretary General of JVA, Ambassador Lewis Lucke, USAID/ Jordan, Acting Deputy Mission Director was to present the new strategic priorities for the JVA to the donors to ensure that current and planned donor programs in the valley are consistent and supportive of the JVA’s strategic objectives.
In his speech, Mr. Abu Hamour commended the collaboration between JVA and donor agencies especially USAID as the latter played an important role in enabling JVA to meet the rising challenges in the valley. He elaborated that climate change, scarcity of water, Syrian refugee influx, and rising population are factors that exacerbated the problem of providing sufficient potable and irrigation water.
Despite these challenges, his Excellency affirmed that the JVA is committed to raising irrigation efficiency and improving water management as it recently embarked in rehabilitating irrigation projects, in addition to providing new water resources to meet the increasing demands of the sector. The JVA is also engaged in water harvesting projects in the highlands.
His Excellency pointed out that the JVA is given the task of the integrated development of Wadi Arava to transfer into a region of sustainable development along the Jordan Valley, and to become a center of attraction for popular and economic services to residents of the region which will in turn contribute to the national economy.
He concluded his speech with listing a set of objectives for the valley including adjusting water tariffs to cover operational and maintenance cost, enabling Water Users Associations to become self-sufficient, working with farmers to transfer the tasks of water management. Finally, he affirmed that the JVA will continue to provide best services for irrigation and drinking water to raise the efficiency of water use and increase economic returns per cubic meter.
In his turn, Mr. Lucke stated that the partnership between JVA and donor agency is very important since the commercial and agricultural activities strain Jordan Water system. Such strains prompt further cooperation to face the valleys rising challenges and to maximize the impact of donor funding in the valley.
Another vital component for the success of the JVA/donor partnership is the important role of the NGOs axis representing civil society. In this regard, FoEME has worked closely with JVA to solve the many of challenges facing the Jordan Valley including the creation of sewage network for the valley, rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River, and establishment of the Bakoura National park. The collaboration also included conducting independent studies that provided much needed data to shed light on the most pressing needs of the valley. The NGO Master Plan for the Lower Jordan River Basin, for instance, was developed with full support from the JVA. It identified a set of feasible interventions that will restore the basin’s environmental and ecological values within realistic financial and economic frameworks.
An overview of the challenges, solutions and priority interventions reached in the Regional Master plan will be presented in the International Conference on Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley that will take place later this year in Jordan. It will bring together high-level international and regional organizations, as well as government officials from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to discuss the environmental, social, legal, political, economic, financial and regional impacts on the basin’s sustainable development in a forward-looking atmosphere focusing on practicality and cutting-edge solutions – where the Lower Jordan River is focused on as a life stream of the region. The Master Plan will be used by FoEME and its partners as an advocacy tool towards decision makers and the international community for the implementation of the proposed interventions. Click on the link for an overview presentation about the Regional NGO Master Plan project.
The interventions are expected to be adopted by the JVA and donor agencies for the rehabilitation of the Jordan River. Once implemented, they will restore the rivers eco-system; ensure equitable sharing of water resources, and free public accessibility for all nationalities which will reflect positively on the region’s economic development perspectives.
This post is contributed by Samar M. Salma, FoEMEs Media Officer at the Amman Office.