Adapting to climate change in the water sector in the MENA region

Project description

Title: Adaptation to Climate Change in the Water Sector in the MENA Region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon other countries in the MENA region
Lead executing agency: Arab Ministerial Water Council (AMWC) of the League of Arab States (LAS)
Overall term: 2011 to 2018


The rapid economic and population growth seen in recent decades in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has adversely affected the ecological balance in the region. Natural resources, in particular water, are already under great pressure. The fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attests to a continuous rise of average temperatures in recent years, as well as a reduction in annual rainfall across the entire Mediterranean region. These trends will continue, resulting in a reduction in surface run-off and groundwater recharge.

So far, the countries in the region have not implemented adequate adaptation measures in the water sector. However, to secure the region’s development potential and to prevent conflicts and migration, it is vital that they put in place regional and national strategies for climate change adaptation in the sector.


The capacity of regional and national institutions in the water sector to develop and implement climate adaptation strategies has improved.


One key factor for success is to strengthen regional governance in the water sector. This must involve a harmonised effort with the main partners: the League of Arab States with its expert institution, the Arab Center for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD); the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); and the ministries responsible for water in the Arab League’s 22 member states.

For the duration of the programme, GIZ is supporting the water ministries of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon in drafting national adaptation strategies, and developing the capacities they need to pursue those strategies. As well as policy advice and the development of methods and instruments, the programme focuses on practical support for technical and institutional innovations for climate change adaptation.

The programme cooperates with three main institutions:

  1. The Arab Ministerial Water Council. In view of the need to establish a basis for planning and to encourage a conducive environment for climate change adaptation, the programme works to heighten the actors’ awareness of regional vulnerabilities and the need for adaptation in the water sector. This is then reflected in the planning and implementation of regional and national policies.

  2. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. In cooperation with ESCWA the programme promotes networking, as well as data and information management for climate adaptation. A regional knowledge platform is currently being set up by practitioners and academics from countries in both the MENA region and in Europe. It will make available the latest research results on climate models and provide possible adaptation measures.

  3. Arab Center for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry Lands. As the ‘technical arm’ of the Arab League, ACSAD is responsible for putting the Arab Water Strategy into operation, and for establishing a Centre of Excellence for Climate Change. ACSAD advises the Arab Ministerial Water Council on implementing and financing climate adaptation measures in the Arab League’s member states.


  • The policy and strategy advice provided to the Arab League is reflected in a regional water strategy and its implementation in the MENA region. A regional expert enjoys a high level of acceptance while advising the climate-relevant committees and organisations.
  • The advice provided to the ESCWA working groups is strengthening both regional and national sector institutions.
  • A network is becoming established thanks to the development of a regional knowledge centre for climate issues. This is being used to generate and exchange new knowledge.
  • Regional and national workshops on climate mainstreaming, climate proofing and climate financing have been held together with the Arab Ministerial Water Council. The national and regional institutions have gained a better understanding about vulnerability, adaptation options and access to finance. This, and the new networks and cooperation structures, are paving the way to better climate change adaptation.
  • Adaptive innovations in Egypt (reuse of drainage water in agriculture), Jordan (solar farming – i.e. solar power generation instead of irrigated agriculture) and Lebanon (recharging of groundwater in the greater Beirut area) are being successfully introduced as pilot measures, in cooperation with the national water ministries. ACSAD is working together with GIZ to support these innovation projects, and in doing so is developing its capacities as a regional advisory institution.