Water of the Middle East and North Africa

Water Management in Jordan

Wehdeh dam, Jordan - Water management in Jordan
Photo 1: Wehdeh dam on Yarmouk River, Jordan. ( Source: Mark Zeitoun, Water Alternatives Photos, Flickr)

Key governmental and non-governmental organizations

Jordan’s water sector is highly centralized, with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) playing a central role in water governance and management. The three main institutions within the water sector are detailed below.

  1. Established in 1988, the MWI is the main public water institution. The ministry operates at policy-making level and is responsible for outlining the country’s water strategy, creating the national master plan for water use, preparing water studies and monitoring water resources.
  2. The Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) operates under the MWI and is responsible for the operational management of water resources and the organization of water supply and wastewater treatment in the highlands. For example, the authority has the mandate to manage threatened groundwater resources through its control of groundwater pumping licenses.
  3. The Jordan Valley Authority also operates under the MWI. Its overall mandate is to create a plan and conditions for comprehensive development (farming, industrial, municipal and tourism) in the Jordan Valley and to protect all the valley’s water resources.

However, this structure is currently being revised, with the intention of merging the MWI and WAJ. Other relevant ministries involved in the water sector are the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) and the Ministry of Environment (MoE).

The vision for the water sector is summarized in the National Water Strategy 2016-2025, a cross-sectoral document setting the direction for policies and decisions made by the MWI. The strategy is guided by the need to ensure water security and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, notably goal 6, which focuses on water. It aims to build a resilient sector based on a unified approach and, primarily, to transition towards sustainable management of water and sanitation for all people in Jordan. The strategy covers five pillars and themes: integrated water resources management; water, sewage and sanitation services; water for irrigation, energy and other uses; institutional reform; and sector information management and monitoring. The strategy also discusses cross-cutting issues such as climate change adaptation, transboundary/shared water resources, humanitarian WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector coordination, public/private partnerships, and the economic dimensions of water.[1]

Jordan Valley, Jordan - Water Management in Jordan
Photo 2: Small dam in Jordan Valley, Jordan. (Credit : Ruben Vermeer)

Role of the private sector

The WAJ has developed a policy to allow private initiative in the water sector in the form of private water companies and public-private partnerships. Aqaba Water, which handles water supply and wastewater treatment in the southern city of Aqaba, is an example of a water company with a large amount of private control. Another example is the Samra wastewater treatment plant, which handles wastewater from the Amman region. The plant’s organizational set-up demonstrates how private experts can help the WAJ to optimize its facilities.

The MWI has also started implementing private-ownership principles in newly established government-owned companies, such as the Aqaba water company Miyahuna. The success of these principles is reflected in the resultant speed and flexibility in responding to people’s needs and implementing new projects. MWI intends to replicate this success by establishing similar water companies in the southern governorates.