Agricultural productivity as a tool for Jordanian water security

Oxford research supporting water security in the Jordan Basin.

Jordan is one of the most water scarce countries per capita in the world. This situation has been compounded by the arrival of up to 1.5 million refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria, placing additional demands on water resources for human and economic uses.

Over the past 20 years, Jordan has made considerable progress in enhancing agricultural water productivity, which has allowed new water resources to be directed at higher economic returns in the non-agricultural sector. Food imports have also helped reduce pressure on the agricultural sector (and with it national water resources) to meet growing population food needs.

Despite Jordan’s impressive past achievements, best practice in agricultural water productivity elsewhere in near region demonstrates potential for further improvements in water productivity within Jordan’s agricultural sector. Such savings would allow new planned water resources to be more intensely directed at the industrial and service economy.

For the past year, with funding from the British Council’s Institutional Links program, Oxford University has been coordinating research partnerships in the region, to understand past trends in water resource use and to highlight the volumetric gains that could be achieved if regional best practice on agricultural water productivity were to be implemented in Jordan.

Focusing initially on national statistics for crop production and water use analysed by Oxford, the research has also involved farm-level interviews conducted by regional partners, which have broadly verified the trends of aggregate national data, as well as identifying different trends in agricultural knowledge and support in the region.

The results from the project ‘Delivering Food and Water Security for a Middle East in Flux (DeFWS) will be published in a working paper due out later this month. You can preview the headline findings in a recent Jordan Times article.

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