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Project Implementation Office established at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation

Following an initiative proposed by Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation are currently developing an extensive programme designed to improve water management in Jordan.

The proposed decentralisation of sanitation and reuse of water is designed to significantly alleviate the issues of water scarcity and groundwater protection that Jordan faces today. During this process it is important to sustainably align fundamental social conditions as well as political and administrative standards with wastewater treatment technology requirements.

During her visit to Jordan on 21st October, Annette Schavan, Federal Minister of Education and Research, has together with Jordan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation, officially inaugurated the Implementation Office that has been established for this purpose at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

With funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the “Integrated Water Resource Management” sponsorship programme (02WM1212), the UFZ and the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) have set up a Project Office at the MWI designed to co-ordinate the development of an implementation strategy on decentralised wastewater treatment scenarios in rural and peri-urban areas over the next three years. Many of Jordan’s households are not connected to mains sewerage systems, and the indirect disposal of untreated wastewater through cesspools poses considerable risks to the country’s scarce groundwater resources. This could be avoided by reclaiming and reusing wastewater locally, thus significantly contributing to an improved water balance in one of the most arid countries in the world. Jordan proposes a share of recycled water of up to 15% of the overall water quantity available, to be used primarily for agricultural purposes.

This joint Jordanian-German initiative aims to integrate the relevant institutions and technologies into the current political strategy of Jordan while also giving consideration to the socio-economic environment, and to study the conditions required for successful implementation. In the process, new markets will be opened up, not least in other countries where water is scarce since the procedures and methods developed will be transferable so that other regions may apply them efficiently as well.

MWI and UFZ pursue their goal by using the so-called participatory approach, which is new in many ways: They are building a visible bridge between research, development, water resource policy and implementation. A National Implementation Committee (NICE) is to develop the implementation strategy, where the interests of all major stakeholders of Jordan will be represented. Established experts from the GWP Regional Sections and corresponding networks will be involved to help create the fundamental conditions required for decentralised wastewater treatment systems. Special workshops and consultations (capacity development) are currently being conceived in line with requirements. It must be emphasised that rather than serving as a substitute for centralised disposal plants, decentralised wastewater structures should be put into place where they can achieve greater economies as opposed to centralised solutions. The most suitable locations will be identified by way of a GIS based analysis developed at the UFZ and designed to evaluate and visualise economic, ecological, demographic and physical factors for decision-making. This will allow for earmarking such locations that pose a particularly high risk to groundwater resources.

The NICE project evolved as a result of the groundwork undertaken in the lower Jordan River watershed by the IWRM project, SMART (Sustainable Management of Available Water Resources with Innovative Technologies), which is also sponsored by the BMBF. Research institutions, regulatory authorities, universities and water utilities from Germany, Jordan, Israel and Palestine are all involved in the project consortium. A particular highlight in Jordan is the Research, Demonstration and Training Facility in Fuheis (near Amman) where decentralised wastewater treatment technologies and options for agricultural reuse have been tested locally during normal operation since 2010. The SMART project includes the seven pilot plants for decentralised wastewater treatment and reuse that are currently under construction in rural and peri-urban areas in Jordan.

The project implemented jointly by MWI, BMBF and UFZ is a major step forward, combining environmental research and technology transfer with the core elements of international co-operation. It adds a whole new facet to application-oriented research the UFZ is committed to.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Roland Müller, Head of the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (UBZ) at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Telephone: 0341-235-1275
Dr. Mi-Yong Lee, Head of the NICE office in Amman, Jordan
Ministry of Water and Irrigation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Telephone: +962 -6-565-2260 ext. 1126
Mobile +962-79-6639537
At the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) scientists study causes and consequences of the complex changes occurring in the environment. Their work focuses on water resources, biodiversity, the implications of climate change and possibilities for adaptation, environmental technologies, biotechnology, bioenergy, the behaviour of chemicals in the environment, their effects on health, modelling and socio-scientific issues. Research is based on the guiding principle of sustainable management of natural resources and helps secure the natural foundations of human life for future generations under the impact of global change. The UFZ has 1,000 employees at its sites in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is funded by the Federal Government and the States of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

The Helmholtz Association helps solve major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, Transport and Space. With more than 33,000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of approximately EUR 3.4 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation. Its work follows the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

Tilo Arnhold | UFZ News
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