A lot at stake
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan suffers from water scarcity – a fact that puts severe strains on its social and economic development prospects. Currently almost 60 % of Jordan’s water is used for irrigated agriculture. Water allocation for domestic use takes less than 30 %. In terms of drinking water allocation cuts below a certain threshold endanger the very survival of people.
A community level approach
In October 2007 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), and Jordan Hashemite fund for Human Development (JOHUD) launched the Water Wise Women (WWW) initiative to raise awareness and change water use patterns at the local level. The WWW initiative is currently implemented in nine different locations in Jordan.
Women’s roles in water management
This initiative recognized the significant women role in water management at the household and community level. Women shoulder the responsibility of guarding family health and hygiene and take on most of the work of water management in the household.
Who are the ‘water wise’ women?
The WWW are well educated, volunteer women that have been trained on a pool of knowledge in all relevant key aspects of sustainable water management, from issues of efficient water use and saving, health and hygiene, to communication with water providers. This approach is based on knowledge transfer through trainings, lessons learnt from the field, and a set of self-sustaining incentives for the WWW.
Women as change agents have a wide outreach into the community and their message is trusted by their peers. However, to remain active there have to be concrete benefits for them. Thus the initiative was institutionalized under an official umbrella to enhance their standing, social exchange and mobility.
The woman’s contributions
The WWW take on an important role in awareness rising on water-use and water saving, as well as in health and hygiene matters. They not only provide advice on how to manage household water better, but also link local communities to governmental and private service providers of water saving devices, water harvesting, and water reuse techniques.
What are lessons learnt?
Behavioural change is a process that requires time, constant reinforcement of the key message, and provision of needed information and tools. Change agents within the community have to be trusted by the community and “practice what they preach”.
Bringing about effective change
Interventions for behaviour change need to match a person’s willingness to change. The proposed solutions need to be affordable, practical and demonstrate visible results over a short time-span. A change message is effective when the problem it addresses is clearly visible and pressing. Change agents who themselves are affected are more effective than outsiders.
The achieved results are diverse: Female household heads and house-wives in Jordan are increasingly aware of water saving and management techniques such as grey water re-use, house-garden drip irrigation, and basic hygiene. Household’s water management thus has increased in efficiency – resulting in up to 30% decreases in monthly water bills at the household level.
Water related community concerns from household and community level are also analysed and fed into the government machinery. This is enabled through linkages with the public service departments, Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ), and Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) and helps to improve customer service and policy making.
The WWW initiative thus serves as a holistic approach towards sustainable water management at the community level.
This blogpost was written by Iqbal Hamad, projects coordinator at JOHUD.