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Water Use

Water in Jordan is supplied from three main resources, groundwater (about 60%), surface water (about 28%) and the rest from treated wastewater (around 12%) (see ‘Water Resources‘). Competition between the agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors is strong and constantly growing, especially as the availability of fresh water decreases. While the water resources in Jordan continue to be limited, the demand by the domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors, as well as the environment will continue to increase.[1]

Olive trees near the Dead Sea. Photo: Nick Fraser.
Olive trees near the Dead Sea. Photo: Nick Fraser.

Water use per sector

Water use varies per sector: the agricultural sector has always been the main water user (ranging from highs of over 70% about ten years ago to about 53% in 2013), followed by the domestic sector (rural and urban households) (about 42%) and the industrial sector (mainly potash and phosphate industries) (about 5%).[2] (Table 1 and Fig. 11)

Table 1. Water uses in Jordan, 2013. Source: MWI.
Table 1. Water uses in Jordan, 2013. Source: MWI.
Figure 12 shows that the total water use in 2013 has fallen slightly since 2008 even though the population has increased during this period, especially since 2012. Moreover, the gap between domestic and agricultural water use has continued to decrease since 2007, indicating some improvement in Jordan’s water management practices.

Figure 12. Evolution of water use in Jordan, 2000-2013 (MCM). Source: MWI.
Figure 12. Evolution of water use in Jordan, 2000-2013 (MCM). Source: MWI.

Agricultural water use and irrigational development

Rapid population growth in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s drove the Jordanian government to implement a strategy of food security, which in turn led to a sharp rise in water use in the government-supported agricultural sector. However, instead of decreasing use, the government’s water policy for many years focused on increasing supply (so-called supply management).[3] Agriculture in Jordan requires intensive irrigation, as only an estimated 5% of the land receives enough rainfall to naturally support agriculture.

Extensive infrastructure was built to supply the country’s irrigation network, centred around the King Abdullah Canal in the Jordan Valley and a number of large dams. Irrigated agriculture was first developed in the Jordan Valley, where it used water from the Jordan River and the Yarmouk River, as well as the side wadis.[4] The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) was assigned responsibility for the operations and development of this huge irrigation area in 1977 (Fig. 13).[5]

 

Figure 13. Jordan’s main agricultural regions. Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.
Figure 13. Jordan’s main agricultural regions. Source: Fanack after Altz-Stamm, A., 2012.

The Abu Darweesh Mosque in Amman, Jordan. Photo: David Bjorgen.
The Abu Darweesh Mosque in Amman, Jordan. Photo: David Bjorgen.


[1] Ministry of Water and Irrigation, 2015. Personal interview.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Yorke, V., 2013. ‘Politics matter: Jordan’s path to water security lies through political reforms and regional cooperation’. NCCR Trade Regulation, Working paper 2013/19.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.