Saturday, November 24, 2012

Jordan Valley Water User Associations

Farmers working together for mutual benefit is a powerful and effective tool for agricultural development.  Currently in the Jordan Valley there are 25 water user associations (WUAs) working in conjunction with the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA).  In 2002 the JVA, in cooperation with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) began forming WUAs with two objectives:  1) to increase the effectiveness of irrigation in the JV on both the water distribution network and on-farm levels  2) to groom WUAs to manage their own canal to field water distribution infrastructure.  Both of these goals have been met in 13 out of the 25 WUAs providing farmers with a high level of responsibility and autonomy.

Greenhouses like these in the Jordan Valley are typically used for growing vegetables and high value crops like herbs.  Their extensive use is a physical reminder of the water stressed conditions under which all agriculture in this country takes place.  

According to both the JVA and representatives of GIZ one of the main needs in the Jordan Valley agricultural areas, also known as "the Ghor", is in the area of extension services for water management.  These responsibilities would typically fall within the purview of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) but the capacity of the MoA is limited by significant shortfalls in budgeting. 

Water quality for the highly sensitive citrus areas is expected to worsen significantly in the near future as blended water (water whose source is both fresh water from the Yarmouk River as well as treated waste water from the King Talal Dam) becomes a part of the irrigation equation.  This is a major need gap that AC4D is interested in filling.  Providing extension services in the area of on-field application under conditions of degrading water quality is exactly what we are about.  We anticipate that the excellent work that GIZ and the JVA have done in establishing and developing the capacity of WUAs will serve as excellent means for disseminating information to farmers as well as collecting feedback from farmers regarding which areas of expertise and what kinds of information would be of greatest benefit to them. 

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