Azraq Project holds its Strategic Meeting in Aqaba

01 June 2009 | News story

Azraq basin forms the largest resource of good-quality ground and surface water in northeastern Jordan. The ecologically sensitive basin suffers from over-pumping the freshwater to Amman cities and irrigating Azraq farms. The IUCN Azraq Oasis Restoration Project, one of the most effective yet challenging projects in that area, held its Strategic Meeting on April 15th to set up the project action plan for the year 2009. The meeting ensured the stakeholders’ involvement in the action plan to illustrate the participatory approach that the project is aiming to achieve. Project partners and representatives from ministries, Azraq District and Municipality, NGOs, , research institutions, farmers and local community representatives have participated in this meeting that was held in Aqaba, Jordan.

The action plan incorporates different tasks to be carried out by the project partners. The stakeholders agreed on re-establishing the Azraq Project Steering Committee based on the analysis for their roles and responsibilities, forming a technical committee that maintains water resources at the local level, registering an association for the protection of Azraq Basin, organizing a workshop on Decision Support Systems, data review and analysis, preparing and developing the decision support system, building the capacity of community-based-organization (CBOs) on strategic planning for water resource management, developing concept proposal and start fundraising, and implement a demonstration project in Azraq with the local communities using the available funds based on the practical DST developed.

The main goal of the Azraq Oasis Project is rehabilitating the oasis which is a unique ecosystem in a fragile environment, lying at the heart of the Azraq Basin and recognized as a RAMSAR Site and identified as an "Important Bird Area" by BirdLife International. IUCN plays an ideal role through setting out an effective framework for capacity building at various levels to improve water resource management, involving collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders. Capacity building is to strengthen interaction between levels from national to local and to better define existing and future decision-making roles and responsibilities.

As part of incorporating the IUCN membership strategy in projects and programmes, IUCN ROWA has partnered with two IUCN active members in Jordan to implement the Azraq Project; the Arab Women Organization (AWO) who will integrate the gender related issues and community participatory planning, empowerment and management in the project implementation process. In addition to the Badia Development and Research Center (BDRC) who will develop a credible and user friendly information system as base for informed decisions concerning management of Azraq Oasis activities. This tool will be well-designed in coordination with national key stakeholders and will be tested and validated before being used as a formal tool for watershed management.

The Azraq Dialogue Restoration Project is one of the demonstration projects of the Regional Water Resources & Drylands Programme (REWARD). It builds on the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach in implementing its programmes to come up with pragmatic solutions for the Azraq area.

The project is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGCS) and IUCN Water & Nature Initiative (WANI) in partnership with Ministries of Environment, Water & Irrigation and Agriculture, in addition to the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN), Mercy Cops, Badia Research & Development Center (BRDC) and Arab Women Organization (AWO).