Religious leaders support water conservation

Project description

Title: Water resources management in Jordan – 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: Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI)
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Context
Jordan is one of the world's most arid countries. Strong population growth, increasing economic development and Syrian refugees are raising water consumption and leaving the country with even less fresh water. Besides posing a humanitarian disaster, the rising number of Syrian refugees is causing additional shortcomings with drinking water supply and wastewater management that affect 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 and affecting water distribution as well.

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 Jordan's population and more than 90 per cent of Syrian refugees admitted by Jordan profess Islam. Their faith serves as a framework of reference for their behaviour and shapes political discourse. Religious leaders thus have a major influence on shaping public opinion and have an important place in society.

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

Approach
The project team works with the Jordanian Ministry of Water and the Ministry of Religious Affairs to encourage the public to use water responsibly by tapping into their religious value systems and beliefs.

The project develops information and teaching materials on resource and water conservation 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 about how to use water economically and why this is important.

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 their beliefs.

Project partners are equipping a few 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 tension 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 200 million has been earmarked for projects carried out by GIZ and other implementing organisations in the period from 2014 to 2019. The thematic focus is on youth and employment promotion, economic stabilisation, democracy and stabilising neighbouring countries in crisis situations.

Contact

Björn Zimprich
bjoern.zimprich@giz.de