Engaging Communities Through Landscape-Level Water Conservation in Jordan

Project Title: Watershed and Development Initiative NGO in Jordan
March 2020
WADI supports local communities to grow native seedlings utilizing water conserving technologies and sustainable nursery management practices. Photo credit: USDA
The Watershed and Development Initiative supports local communities to grow native seedlings using water conserving technologies and sustainable nursery management practices. Photo credit: USDA


In 2019, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs and the U.S. State Department Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs established the Watershed and Development Initiative (WADI) to address Jordan&#39;s water security challenges on a landscape level. WADI is a multi-faceted NGO&nbsp;in Jordan that informs decision-makers and restoration practitioners on the best scientifically proven practices for watershed restoration.</p>

The Story

The three main goals of WADI are to 1) establish soil and water conservation sites that serve as reference models for scaling watershed restoration techniques; 2) build shared ownership in practices that foster sustainable water conservation and land stewardship; 3) promote sustainable operation of high-quality native seedling nurseries. 

By 2025, water demand in Jordan will exceed available resources by 26 percent. Shortages are due to rapid internal population growth, an influx of refugees, excessive groundwater use (twice the recharge rate), natural resource extraction, and climate change. Renewable water supply currently only meets half of total water consumption in the Kingdom. Currently, more than 90 percent of rainfall evaporates or runs off, and USDA hydrologists and dryland ecosystem experts estimate that over 50 percent more rainwater can be captured through landscape rehabilitation in Jordan. 

To successfully rehabilitate degraded landscapes, WADI is involved in all stages of the restoration process. From carefully identifying and preparing suitable native species to restore each site to using scientific protocols for seed cleaning, storing, and sowing seeds, WADI is involved in all stages of the process. WADI is establishing reference sites to scale restoration techniques and will continue to monitor these sites’ effectiveness and scalability. Monitoring data to demonstrate the usefulness of restoration practices are collected by documenting surface water runoff, water stored in the soil and available for plant growth, depths of water movement, and possible aquifer recharge. The data can be used to model the potential for successful application of watershed restoration practices in other critical watersheds in Jordan.

Through WADI, women play an integral role in community-based natural resource management across Jordan. With local partners, the first women-run community nursery was established at Sabha, Mafraq, in 2016 to produce high-quality native seedlings using state-of-the art practices for landscape restoration throughout Jordan. Youth are also important to successful watershed restoration in Jordan, accounting for 70 percent of the total population. WADI conducts awareness-raising sessions for young people in schools and universities to highlight pressing environmental issues in the region, including rangeland degradation, deforestation, water scarcity, and climate change, to compel action.

In partnership with the Government of Jordan, local and international NGOs, international organizations, and local communities, WADI is a knowledge broker and knowledge producer, developing scientifically sound information that will benefit the people and watersheds of Jordan. WADI collaborates with diverse organizations across Jordan and through these partnerships, creates an informed network of restoration practitioners to disseminate education and research.

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Strategic Objective(S)

Water Resources Management
Governance and Financing


Provide technical assistance
Invest in sustainable infrastructure and services
Promote science, technology, innovation, and information
Strengthen partnerships, intergovernmental organizations, and the international community