Towards concerted sharing: development of a regional water economy model for the Jordan River Basin

Time span of the project    2013-2016
Contact person
Dr Ben Sonneveld (project coordinator)
Project partners
American University of Beirut; Al-Quds University (West Bank); Arab Center for Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD, Damascus); Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST, Irbid); Centre for World Food Studies (SOW-VU)
Project sponsorSwedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

The project ‘Towards concerted sharing: development of a regional water economy model in the Jordan River Basin (JRB)’, has been completed in September 2016; the project has been executed by a team of water and natural resource specialists and economists from Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestine Territories and a regional research center, who worked jointly with SOW-VU staff to improve their understanding of the local water economy and cross-border related water problems in the JRB.

The current situation in the JRB is characterized by water scarcity and a history of water-related disputes and conflicts. Interregional agreements on managing water supply and demand may be a remedy, but need to be based on a deep understanding how combined actions by riparian states affect water availability.

Hence the project’s first aim was to develop a spatially explicit regional water economy model and underlying database that accommodates spatial and temporal detail of water dynamics; balances in- and outflows of natural and controlled water flows; and characterizes water quality using various indicators.

The second aim was to show how changes in water availability affect the local economy; this is illustrated through a set of scenario’s, that represent pressing concerns of the regional partners. Four examples are i) the impact of climate change on water availability and recharge of aquifers, ii) the influence of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon on water availability and agricultural production value, iii) the potential benefits when improving the technology of irrigations system in Syria, iv) an overarching scenario that aims to find a more equitable water allocation in the JRB based on sustainable groundwater extraction rates.

Capacity building was another highlight of the project:  the regional team is now experienced in setting up model based scenarios backed by narratives on their water-related concerns, using in-depth insights and knowledge of local conditions; at the concluding workshop a number of high-level policy makers emphasized that the database and model developed in the project could provide valuable objective information for national policy making as well as for international negotiations.