Religious leaders support water conservation

Project description

Title: Improvement of communal water efficiency through cooperation with religious authorities
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Special Initiative on Stabilisation in the Middle East and North Africa
Country: Jordan
Lead executing agency: Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Gläubige bei der rituellen Waschung in der Shishani-Moschee in Amman; Fotograf: Thomas Imo/


Jordan ranks as one of the most water-deprived countries in the world. Strong population growth, increasing economic development and the intake of more than 655,000 registered refugees from neighbouring Syria are additionally increasing water consumption and putting greater pressure on the country's scarce resources. In addition to the humanitarian disaster, the high number of refugees is increasingly overloading the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal systems, which is affecting the entire population.

Even though water is noticeably scarce, both Jordan’s population and Syrian refugees lack awareness of how to use water and natural resources sparingly. Social tension between the Jordanian population and Syrian refugees is growing.

The country does not have any awareness-raising campaigns encouraging the Jordanian public and Syrian refugees to use water economically. Harnessing religious beliefs offers one potential approach. About 94 per cent of the Jordanian population and more than 90 per cent of the Syrian refugees admitted to Jordan profess Islam. Their faith serves as a framework of reference for their own behaviour and shapes political discourse. Religious leaders thus have a major influence on shaping public opinion and have an important place in society.


The prerequisites for using water economically are put in place for Syrian refugees and the people living in the host communities.

Wasserbotschafter Imam Khaled von der Usama bin Zaid-Moschee in Mafraq;  Fotograf: Thomas Imo/


The project team works with the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs to encourage the population to use water responsibly by tapping into their religious value systems and beliefs.

The project team develops information and teaching materials on resource and water protection with religious leaders and education experts. Partners use these documents to train imams and waithat – male and female religious scholars – so that they can serve as water ambassadors teaching believers in communities how to use water economically and why this is important. Dedicated teaching materials have also been developed for Christian leaders.

Religion-based teaching materials are developed for schools and universities and then included in religious education to raise awareness of the issue of water scarcity.

In addition to religious instruction, the project also uses mass media to address the importance of conserving water and resources and raise public awareness through people’s beliefs.

Project partners are equipping selected mosques in northern and central Jordan with rainwater collection and grey water recycling systems. These water-plus mosques will show people ways of saving water that they can put into practice in their own homes too.

The more economical use of water and natural resources achieved by the project will also reduce tensions between the host Jordanian population and Syrian refugees.

The project is part of a special initiative designed to stabilise and promote development in North Africa and the Middle East run by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Through the projects that make up this special initiative, BMZ is helping to open up economic and social prospects for people in the region. Within this context, an additional sum of more than EUR 300 million has been earmarked for projects carried out by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and other organisations in the period from 2014 to 2021. The thematic focus is on youth and employment promotion, economic stabilisation, democracy and stabilising neighbouring countries in crisis situations.