Building Institutional, Technical Capabilities of Water Users Associations in Jordan Valley
The Jordan Valley Authority, the bulk water distributor of the country’s most productive agricultural area established its Water User Associations as part of a new management strategy: participatory irrigation management.
The WUAs are the middlemen, operating under the JVA which delivers water from pumping stations or gravity turnouts at the King Abdullah Canal to the WUA, and interacting with and delivering water to the farmers.
However, as the JVA was priming the WUAs to take over as the region’s new retail distributors of irrigated water, the WUAs lack of governance abilities and technological know-how turned detrimental to the success of JVA’s plans and the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the Jordan Valley.
“The danger of transferring retail water supply to WUAs that are not fully competent will affect the rehabilitated networks which could deteriorate quickly, the investment in rehabilitating the networks will be lost, and on farm water losses will continue or, in the worst case scenario, be more intermittent or scarce,” according to MIRRA’s project report at the time.
Methods for Irrigation and Agriculture (MIRRA) were tasked with filling the void in WUAs’ training that fractured their capacities of both the necessary soft skills to collaborate and communicate the needs of farmers to the JVA and the Jordan Valley Water Forum and technical skills. For example, not all WUAs were equally capable of diagnosing, operating, and maintaining daily diagnostics and preventive maintenance tasks needed for on-farm networks, let alone on JVA networks. Additionally, a handful of WUAs consistently relayed and recorded unreliable information.
MIRRA set out to address these issues by developing a training curriculum to improve the quality of WUA services, creating a framework for uniting the various WUA’s to improve farmer representation and participation, developing a means to improve transparency. In this way, the goal would be for the WUAs to become advocates for farmers under the platform of the Jordan Valley Water Forum, raise awareness among farmers about water shares.
MIRRA conducted numerous training sessions on the topics of “Operation and Maintenance of Irrigation Water Delivery Networks”, “Governance and Sustainability Training”, “Basic Computer Skills Training”, and “Accounting Training” wherein accounting software was installed in computers.
A majority of the WUA candidates attended the training sessions and provided feedback. Additionally, the technical training was integrated into the JVA’s plans and has since actively sought out training and capacity building opportunities to maintain hard skills within its operations.
Perhaps, most of all, farmers had expressed an interest in continuing the JVWF platform as an opportunity and as a sustainable tool in engaging with the JVA, the WUAs and their peers in a streamlined dialogue.
According to MIRRA’s project report, “the close relationship that was established with the JVA and WUA personnel has contributed to a deeper understanding of the underlying issues and a more fruitful exchange of ideas. Moreover, ensuring that the beneficiaries are made well-aware of the objectives of the project results in greater appreciation of the impact and cooperation throughout the project implementation phases.”