By Laila Azzeh – Jun 10,2015

AMMAN — Um Rakan will never forget the day she managed to fix a water leak at her house and show her family how “capable” she was.

The young mother said she felt an “overwhelming” sense of victory when repairing the leaking tap, especially since her husband was unable to do so.

The Bani Kenanah resident noted that she could not have possibly mastered such skills without receiving the appropriate training under the Improved Water Resources Security for Low Income Rural and Urban Communities (WRAP) project.

Um Rakan is among tens of women deemed as “wise women” whose mission is to spread good water conservation practices in their respective communities.

For farmer Mazen Abu Ghazal, the skills he received under the training have “changed his farming techniques for good”.

“I grow pomegranate on a 10-dunum plot of land and used to believe, like my father and grandfather before him, that the more I water the pomegranate tree, the more fruit it gives us,” he said on Wednesday during a ceremony to highlight the achievements of the project.

Thanks to the training, implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), Abu Ghazal noted that he “knows better now”.

“It turned out that what we know about irrigation is a myth. There should be a monthly watering schedule that only gives the trees what they need, because all the additional water is useless,” he explained.

As a result, the farmer now saves about a quarter of the water he used to use.

Under the EU-funded scheme, water networks in five areas have been rehabilitated, which contributed to providing drinking water to 500 families and increasing water supply to more than 3,000 households, improving the lives of around 20,000 individuals.

In addition, three groups of “wise women” were formed who have so far managed to raise the awareness of 750 women in local communities and 2,000 students on the best usage of water.

WRAP organisers also provided water conservation devices to 2,850 families, 21 schools and 13 mosques in several parts of the Kingdom; rehabilitated seven springs; and improved irrigation techniques in 57 farms.

The second component of the project focused on improving the efficiency of the Yarmouk Basin and forming a 60-member committee to build their capacity in addressing problems facing the area.

“We have developed mathematic models that help decision makers decide better, such as WEA, MODFLOW and MYWAS,” WRAP Director Sameer Abdul Jabbar said at the ceremony.

Supervised by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the project is in line with the country’s priority to ensure drinking water is available to all.

“The scheme is based on many ideas, mainly that water issues should be tackled in a participatory way in cooperation with the grass roots,” Water Ministry Secretary General Basem Tulfah said, adding that the overall funding of the initiative amounted to 10 million euros.

Natalija El Hage, GIZ country director, said WRAP is “unique” in its ability to further cooperation between international and local organisations with the local community.

“It is one of the few water projects that focus on the grass roots,” she said.

HRH Princess Basma agreed, commending the initiative for being “pro-poor” people and the participatory spirit among the residents.

“It is no good to do things top down… through initiatives like this, the community can come together to bring about change,” the princess said, thanking the GIZ and the EU for implementing the project.