Cash for Work: Protection of Water Dams in Jordan

Project description

Title: Protection of Water Dams in Jordan through Labour-intensive Activities (Cash for Work)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Jordan
Lead executing agency: Jordan Valley Authority
Overall term: 2017 to 2022



Jordan is one of the world's most arid countries. Population and economic growth as well as the high number of displaced people – especially from neighbouring Syria – are increasing the pressure on the already scarce water resources. With 89 refugees for every 1,000 inhabitants, as of 2018, Jordan has the second highest rate of refugees in the world.

The country’s infrastructure is under heavy strain and can no longer meet the growing population’s needs. There is not enough drinking water and unemployment is high in many communities hosting refugees, as Jordan’s economic situation has deteriorated increasingly since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. As a result, competition between the Jordanian population and displaced people for scarce resources is increasing. The community’s social cohesion is at risk.

In addition, riverbank erosion is threatening to cover with silt the King Talal Dam, Mujib Dam, Wala Dam, Zeglab Dam, Kofranja Dam and Wadi Arab Dam in the medium term. The dams are vital for storing run-off precipitation.

They supply water, which among other things is used for the cultivation of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley. The increasing volume of sand and other sediment deposits is a threat to the water supply for agricultural use: if rainwater from the reservoirs is no longer sufficient for irrigation, farmers resort to using the country’s scarce groundwater resources.


Labour-intensive measures are used to maintain the storage capacity of the reservoirs and reduce erosion in the catchment areas of the dams. At the same time, the living conditions of needy Jordanian families and displaced people are improved through temporary employment opportunities.

GIZ2020_cash for work-Jordan_2


The project is part of the Special Initiative Tackling the root causes of displacement, stabilising host regions, supporting refugees of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The funded measures benefit both displaced people and host communities. In addition, the project contributes to securing the water supply and employs forcibly displaced and needy people from host communities. It promotes social cohesion and long-term development in the region, and focuses on two fields of action.

The first field of action includes measures to protect against soil erosion such as reforestation and the construction of check dams made out of gabion baskets, terraces, gabion walls, rip rap, and dry stone walls. By creating temporary jobs as part of this field of activity, the project is contributing to improving the household income of Jordanian families and displaced Syrians. Both the reforestation of the riparian areas and the construction of anti-erosion infrastructure in the dams’ catchment areas will reduce erosion and the sediments formed in reservoirs during precipitation. This serves to maintain the storage capacity of the reservoirs and ensures that agriculture in the Jordan Valley remains irrigated in the medium and long term. The reservoirs also indirectly supply drinking water for the population. 

As part of the second field of activity and in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the German Jordanian University (GJU), the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), former Nabataean flood control infrastructures (terraces, dry stone walls and check dams) are being restored and a trail built between Little Petra and Petra. The Nabataeans were a group of ancient nomadic tribes from Arabia who formed a kingdom. Petra was its capital. 

UNESCO is also receiving support for its work in Mafraq to restore Byzantine churches. Rehabilitation and clean-up operations are also taking place in cooperation with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Universität Hamburg at various locations throughout Jordan. 

The international non-governmental organisations DRC, NRC, World Vision International, ACTED, Action Contre La Faim (ACF), UNESCO and GJU are implementing partners of the project. They recruit the cash workers, plan their assignments and pay their wages. 


From April 2017 to March 2022, 7,000 people will be employed as cash workers for an average of at least 40 days. Women are mainly employed in tree nurseries and providing supplies for the cash workers on the project sites. The project is also committed to delivering medium and long-term employment prospects, mainly by providing Post Employment Services (PES). These include, for example, further training, job formalisation, subsidies for self-employment and advisory services.

Further Information