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Press Release

New UN Programme Aims to Tackle Water Scarcity in Jordan
25/ 08/ 2011

New UN Programme Aims to Tackle Water Scarcity in JordanThe Jordan Joint Programme aims to improve access to drinking water, promote the sustainable use of water supply sources and strengthen resilience to climate change in a country that is faced with serious water supply challenges.

Jordan Faces Some of World's Most Pressing Water Challenges


Nairobi, 25 August 2011 - A new Joint Programme to strengthen to the impacts of climate change on scarce water resources and to improve food security and health in Jordan is the focus of a workshop at the World Water Week in Stockholm today.

The Jordan Joint Programme - a collaborative effort between the Government of Jordan and several United Nations agencies and carried out under the Spain-funded Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) - aims to improve access to drinking water, promote the sustainable use of water supply sources and strengthen resilience to climate change in a country that is faced with serious water supply challenges.

The UN Human Development Report for Jordan 2011 shows that the country ranks among those facing the greatest shortages in terms of water resources and availability worldwide.

Jordan's water supplies are indeed precarious. According to the report, it has a shortfall of one third of its requirements in drinking water and approximately 50% in irrigation needs. This has a direct bearing on the country's food security, human health and environmental sustainability.

In an attempt to meet the country's increasing demand for water, there has been extensive drilling for under-ground water sources. This in turn has resulted in rising levels of salinity in underground water reserves, as well as diminishing water levels and growing pumping costs.
Approximately two thirds of Jordan's water supplies go towards agriculture, even though agriculture is responsible for less than 4% of the country's GDP.

Assessments by experts indicate that the current situation is likely to worsen in light of climate change.

The main UN agencies involved are the World Health Organization Regional Centre for Environmental Health Activities (WHO - CEHA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) is identifying best practices and sharing information on other climate change adaptation projects with key interest groups in Jordan in order to help develop a more sustainable approach to water use.

The Joint Programme has brought together a wide range of partners in the country which include the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Water and Irrigation and Ministry of Education.

The Jordan Joint Programme will target vulnerable communities and improve their adaptive capacity to climate change. This will be achieved through establishment of model farms using waste water for irrigation, introduction of drought resistant wheat seeds, adoption of drinking water safety plans, water safety educational programmes and updating the needed strategies governing these interventions.

The Jordan Joint Programme was featured in UNEP's "Week in Focus" - a dynamic and interactive knowledge management platform for policymakers and environmental experts - from 15 to 18 August 2011. The platform seeks to improve the sharing of technical information and expertise among key interest groups.

By making water use more sustainable, the programme hopes to bring benefits to human health and food security.

Similar projects in Ecuador, Egypt, Mauritania, Turkey and Guatemala will be showcased in future "Weeks in Focus".

For more information, please contact:

Munjed Al-Sharif, Jordan Joint Programme Coordinator, +962 6567 1374 or +962 79 5479505, E-mail munjed.al-sharif@undp.org

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