Azraq Oasis Restoration Project, Jordan

Rescuing the Azraq Oasis and local livelihoods

Azraq Oasis Restoration Project

As part of IUCN commitment towards the restoration of ecosystems and livelihoods, the Azraq Oasis Restoration Project was initiated in 2008 as one of the demonstration projects of the Regional Water Resources Drylands Programme (REWARD). This project was initiated by the DGCS/ WESCANA Project and supported by the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) which is funded by DGIS/ The Netherlands. The project has a special gender component which was funded by EU in 2009.

The Azraq Basin is one of the most important recharging ground water basins in Jordan; it forms the largest resource of good-quality ground and surface water in Jordan. The Basin is located in the Northeastern part of the country, extending northwards into Syria and southwards touching the border with Saudi Arabia. The Azraq Oasis is a large mudflat located in the central and lowest part of the basin, 120 km North-East of Amman. Azraq Basin consists of three aquifer systems, the upper shallow fresh water basalt aquifer currently under the threat of salinization due to overexploitation; the middle limestone brackish water aquifer (600 to 15,000 mg/l) aged more than 30,000 years and the deep sandstone aquifer which has low yields and poor quality water.

The Azraq oasis is a unique ecosystem in a fragile environment where the remaining wetland is recognized as a RAMSAR Site, it contains a wealth of biodiversity and habitats, and the richest habitat of all exists in its wetlands, which are extremely rare in the region. The Azraq Oasis was especially important for migratory birds, with up to a million birds utilizing the area during the course of a single spring migration.

Project Goal:
This project aims at restoring a substantial part of the Azraq Oasis (Ramsar site), while balancing water uses, maintaining ecosystem services and addressing long-term access and rights to water by underprivileged groups in the targeted communities.

The project purpose is to build the capacities of national stakeholders and local communities on systemic and participatory approaches for the purpose of planning, restoration, development and management of the Azraq Oasis. This is being tested and demonstrated at the intermediate and local levels by promoting increased participation and representation of stakeholders, mainly end-users, in planning and decision-making processes (improved local water governance).

Key challenges facing the Azraq basin
 A significant depression exceeding 20 meters on the groundwater table level;
 Water quality deterioration, related to the intrusion of brine groundwater from the middle aquifer into the shallow aquifer;
 Complete degradation of the organic soils surrounding the wetland.
 Socio-economic conflict within at the local level.

Project Stakeholders
1. Ministry of Agriculture.
2. Ministry of Environment.
3. Ministry of Water and Irrigation
4. Ministry of Interior/ Azraq District.
5. Azraq Municipality.
6. Department of Land and Survey.

Project Donors:
1. IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI)
2. Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGCS)
3. European Union (EU)

Project Results:
Result 1: All relevant stakeholders (GOs, NGOs, private sector, CBOs and end-users) empowered in participatory water resource planning and management and enabled to engage in planning and decision making and in implementing the master plan and undertake similar activities in the country and the wider region.

Result 2: Systemic analysis tools developed to enhance the communication and information flow between the stakeholders and support the development of the Azraq Oasis master plan.

Result 3: A Master plan designed with all concerned parties for the restoration of Azraq Oasis based on a joint participatory planning framework and supported by a set of systemic tools (possibly a DSS)

Result 4:
Pilot projects in the targeted areas developed and implemented to test solutions for the restoration of Azraq oasis - based on the priorities of the stakeholders - – that will pave the way for up scaling when implementing the master plan.

Result 5:
information and knowledge acquired in this project shared and communicated at the national and regional level.

Working with members:
The project is designed to initiate collaboration with IUCN members in Jordan. IUCN has collaborated with Jordan Badia Research and Development Center to develop credible information for informed decisions concerning the management of Azraq oasis activities from the different water resources which should be practical and user-friendly for stakeholders at all levels.

IUCN has also collaborated with the Arab Women Organization (AWO) focusing on a gender related project and community participatory planning and management. The REWARD team is supporting AWO in process documentation and information sharing at different levels (intermediate, national and regional) for Influencing polices for local communities’ rights towards their water resources mainly the vulnerable groups such as women, small farmers …etc. 

For more information, please contact IUCN Azraq Oasis Restoration Project Coordinator Ms Fidaa Haddad fida.haddad@iucn.org

Azraq basin water situation figure

Azraq basin water situation figure, Jordan

Photo: IUCN ROWA

Azraq Oasis Restoration Project Slideshow

 As part of IUCN commitment towards the restoration of ecosystems and livelihoods, the Azraq Oasis Restoration Project was initiated in 2008 as one of the demonstration projects of the Regional Water Resources Drylands Programme (REWARD).

Study of Salt Water Intrusion in the Upper Aquifer in Azraq Basin
Gender Empowerement in Azraq through CEDAW agreement - Part 1

This documentary showcases the process of gender empowerment and the implementation of CEDAW agreement in Azraq, Jordan through the IUCN Azraq Oasis Restoration Project.

Gender Empowerement in Azraq through CEDAW agreement - Part 2

This documentary showcases the process of gender empowerment and the implementation of CEDAW agreement in Azraq, Jordan through the IUCN Azraq Oasis Restoration Project.

PRESENTATION
Project Document - Azraq Oasis Restorstion Project