Al Azraq Basin National Dialogue lifts hopes for a better future

Caused by the over abstraction of groundwater for agricultural and domestic uses, Al Azraq Basin's water is facing a major challenge for its existence and sustainability. This situation has resulted in the reduction of Azraq's groundwater, an overexploitation of artesian aquifers, increased salinization of groundwater and soil.

Azraq Wetlands reserve

Urgent and immediate action was needed to save this Ramsar wetland site and its surrounding region. Therefore, joint efforts by a group of partners and stakeholders initiated an ambitious venture aiming towards positive change entitled Al Azraq Basin National Dialogue Initiative. This initiative aims at exploring solutions and scenarios for the sustainability of Al Azraq Basin and the sustainable future use of its ground waters.

A large group of government and civil organizations and a group of elected local community representatives are actively participating in this initiative which is funded by InWEnt, Capacity Building International.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) is playing an important role in providing technical and logistic support and facilitating dialogue within the initiative. The Ministry of Environment is providing the overall political and institutional support and umbrella for the initiative. Al Azraq District Administration, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture, The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, Azraq Farmers Water Management Association as well as a group of local elite residents and resource exploiters representing local stakeholder communities are all part of the initiative.

This initiative is a unique experience that joins all stakeholders around one table at equal levels to bring-about changes and invites everyone to shoulder their responsibilities towards Azraq. All stakeholders in this dialogue agreed to formulate and agreement on a feasible and practical national vision backed up by an agreed upon strategy for implementation. That is followed up and monitored by all participants. All parties have also agreed to establish a National Forum for Azraq basin, and document the experiences and lessons-learned to be employed in its development and achieving sustainability.

It is worth noting that in the past, Al Azraq and its natural ecosystems were considered of great environmental and global value, culminated by the proclamation of the area as a global RAMSAR site in 1977, due to its importance as a stopover for migratory birds in the heart of the arid desert. However the water exploitation for agricultural purposes and for potable water, led to radical changes in environmental and natural patterns in the basin which threatens its survival and continuity for the generations to come.

For any further information, please contact Haifaa Abdulhalim at: [email protected]

West Asia
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