Strengthening CGIAR’s Agricultural Research for Resilient Food, Land, and Water Systems in Jordan: Insights from the Listening Session

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    CGIAR Initiative on Fragility to Resilience in Central and West Asia and North Africa
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CGIAR conducted “Listening Sessions” to engage with key partners, stakeholders, and beneficiaries in 32 countries across the Global South to inform the development of its 2025-2030 portfolio of research programs. In the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region, sessions were held in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Uzbekistan.

CGIAR Listening Session in Jordan

The Jordan Listening Session held on 25 March 2024, in Amman, at the Water, Energy, and Environment Center at the University of Jordan, was attended by 24 participants from our host and main agriculture research partner National Agricultural Research Center (NARC), as well as experts from the water, social development, agriculture, energy, environment, and climate change sectors. The session was co-organized and co-convened by CGIAR’s regional office and Centers, including IWMI, ICARDA, and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. The session aimed to gather valuable insights and directions to guide CGIAR research activities and deepen collaboration for future transformative partnerships.

Jordan’s context

Jordan’s water resources are among the most vulnerable globally, with an average annual precipitation of around 95 mm. Underground and surface water constitute 85% of available sources. Currently, the per capita share of renewable water resources is estimated at 61 m3/year. Increasing demand for water due to demographic shifts and population growth has led to a steep decline in freshwater availability. The agriculture sector consumes 46.6% of Jordan’s freshwater resources, prompting the development of the Water Substitution and Reuse Policy (2016) to promote the use of treated wastewater for agriculture. Jordan also faces Non-Revenue Water (water that is pumped or produced into the system but subsequently lost) of approximately 47%, requiring stringent efficiency measures and enhanced demand management.

Jordan’s agriculture sector is mostly irrigated and water-intensive, with fragmented, small-scale landholdings leading to a lack of coherent organization and limited crop productivity. Despite being near high food demand markets, low productivity and high utility costs hinder Jordan’s competitiveness. Food security is a priority, with the launch of the National Food Security Strategy (2021-2030) and the National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture (2022-2025). The agriculture sector is a key source of livelihood, especially in rural areas, though arable land suffers from a lack of water.

Climate change in Jordan is exacerbating water scarcity, with declining annual precipitation and more frequent, prolonged droughts. Jordan’s water, food, and land systems face multifaceted challenges from climate change, resource scarcity, rapid urbanization and population growth, regional instability, and refugee influxes from surrounding countries. These issues create compounding risks that require an integrated, multi-sectoral governance approach. It is essential to identify and prioritize actions that identify vulnerable groups and livelihoods, build resilience, reduce carbon emissions, and support socio-economic development.

According to the World Bank[1], Jordan’s success in meeting its climate and development goals will largely be determined by policy and investment choices in five strategic sectors: water, energy, agriculture, transport, and urban development. In response, Jordan launched its Economic Modernization Vision 2033[2], centered around the vision of “A Better Future”. This plan is based on two strategic pillars: (i) accelerating growth by unleashing Jordan’s full economic potential; and (ii) improving the quality of life for all citizens, with sustainability as a cornerstone.

Boosting Impact: Connecting National Priorities with CGIAR Impact Areas

Listening Session participants made these connections between national priorities and the CGIAR Impact Areas:

Nutrition, Health, and Food Security

  • Enhance coordination between agriculture stakeholders and related sectors to address conflicting priorities.
  • Secure water resources, conventional and non-conventional, for agricultural activities and food security.
  • Establish an inclusive database for policy-making and cross-sectoral synergies.
  • Secure innovative financing for the local agriculture ecosystem and vulnerable groups, including women, youth, and refugees.
  • Create a food security legal framework.
  • Build capacity and encourage farmers to use modern agri-techniques to improve productivity.
  • Improve collaboration with the private sector for agriculture production and marketing.
  • Transform food systems to lower the cost of nutritious foods and make healthy diets more affordable, ensuring a fair price for producers.
  • Develop a national nutrition strategy.

Poverty Reduction, Livelihoods and Jobs

  • Support research on post-harvest technologies and the agro-industry to create more job opportunities.
  • Collaboration on market access, product development, and food value chains.
  • Promote green job creation

Gender Equality, Youth and Social Inclusion

  • Build the capacities of women and young researchers, encouraging them to conduct climate and food security research.
  • Consider gender equality during an innovation life cycle.
  • Address obstacles limiting women’s, youth, and refugee’s involvement in agriculture, such as asset ownership and access to financial resources.
  • Identify and upscale opportunities in the agri-food sector for refugee financial integration and improved social cohesion.
  • Address conditions for women farmers, including wages and work environment.

Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

  • Encourage data sharing on climate and soil research.
  • Promote collaboration on water management and climate change adaptation.
  • Support research on renewable energy, bio digestion, and food waste reduction.
  • Address increasing water challenges, including water reuse, non-conventional resources, efficient water-use technologies, water harvesting, and water pollution reduction.
  • Assist the government in accessing the Green Climate Fund, focusing on unlocking climate financing for the most vulnerable groups such as refugee populations.
  • Addressing the intersectionality between climate justice and gender justice in the NDC.
  • Encourage research on the intersection of climate change, conflict and fragility, and migration or displacement.

Environmental Health and Biodiversity

  • Improve soil health and quality through sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Address land fragmentation, salinization, and degradation.
  • Encourage land restoration activities.
  • Mainstream water resource management across all CGIAR programs for sustainable and impactful interventions.

Collaboration: Effective Modalities and Mechanisms

  • The participants proposed the following key pathways to enhance inclusive engagement between CGIAR and Jordan stakeholders:
  • Establish links with policymakers to prioritize the nutritional value of cuisines and create business opportunities through innovation in agrifood systems.
  • Establish a science-for-society research and development framework, ensuring accessibility and effective communication of scientific knowledge.
  • Create green jobs linked to Jordan’s economic vision, emphasizing economic impact data, agricultural business specialization, and the development of green jobs standards.
  • Support for smallholder farmers and increase women’s involvement in agriculture, focusing on changing farming habits, addressing soil degradation, and cultivating climate resilient native plant species.
  • Increase collaboration with CGIAR and funding agencies to support agricultural initiatives, with a focus on capacity development and creating an Agriculture Data Bank for data sharing and process optimization.

Way forward

The Jordan listening sessions have been truly inspiring events, thanks to the in-depth discussions with stakeholders. We are reviewing and systematizing the rich outcomes, which will be invaluable in shaping the next phase of CGIAR’s research and innovation portfolio, starting in 2025. These insights will also guide our stakeholder engagement and partnerships strategy in Jordan in the long term. We extend our gratitude to the partners who participated, the Water, Energy, and Environment Center at the University of Jordan for hosting the Listening Session, and our CGIAR colleagues who contributed to the success of this exercise.


Authors: Maha Al-Zu’bi (IWMI), Youssef Brouziyne (IWMI), Hassan Machlab (ICARDA), Martina Jaskolski (Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT)

Image (c) Abdel Hameed Al Nasier/ILO, Jordan, 2019.

[1] World Bank Group. (2022) Jordan Country and Climate Development Report.

[2] Government of Jordan (2022) Economic Modernisation Vision: Unleashing potential to build the future.

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