Jordan | Water, land and agricultural cooperatives: in Jordan income is created by saving natural resources

June 2022 – In the north of Jordan, in a barren land a few kilometers from Syria, women and men residing in remote locations in the Governorates of Mafraq and Irbid are busy collecting the products grown in the long circular greenhouses that were installed, with the contribution of the Italian Cooperation, to support the agri-food sector in areas affected by water scarcity and particularly vulnerable to climatic and environmental stress.

Thyme, basil, onions, aromatic herbs, lettuce, local crops and other best-selling products of the local market. By combining traditional practices and methodologies with modern and innovative technologies and based on the Nexus Water-Energy-Safety approach, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), partner of AICS for the realization of the initiative "Improving the living conditions and food security of host communities and Syrian refugees through the development of sustainable agricultural practices”, has focused on the diversification of agriculture and water supply and a more efficient and rational use of water, as well as the introduction and use of renewable energies.

Jordan is indeed one of the poorest water countries in the world. Water scarcity is recognized as one of the main obstacles to its socio-economic development and to the regular restoration of natural resources. The insufficient availability of water, both in terms of quantity and quality, clearly has a significant impact on agriculture, which accounts for 70% of the country's total water consumption, and on food security.

AICS and IUCN, in response to this need for conservation of natural resources and in collaboration with local Community Based Organizations (CBOs) selected as partners, have oriented their intervention on improving water efficiency in irrigation through the introduction of agronomic techniques based on low water consumption and the use of renewable energies, both in the production cycle and in the transformation of agricultural products. IUCN has set up 8 agricultural production sites in various locations in the target Governorates that use "smart" systems such as hydroponics and renewable energy systems, in addition to market analyses and specialized training aimed at farmers and breeders. Trainings focused on agriculture techniques that are based on a systematic approach that analyzes the interactions between the natural environment and human activities and is oriented towards a more coordinated management and use of natural resources.

60 years old Nadia Al-Faqeer, head of the Jafna Charity Association women's cooperative in Um Al-Qutayn, in the Governorate of Mafraq, works in the thyme production chain in one of the sites created through the  contribution of the Italian Cooperation. The cooperative, selected by IUCN as a partner of the initiative, currently has 40 Jordanian women and, since its foundation in 2015, has supported the empowerment of local women through training and involvement in productive projects ­– such as the planting and processing of thyme. "The project helped generate income for my family and made me a more productive and effective member of the community" smiles Nadia next to her husband who supports her, she explains, in all her initiatives, "and the same goes for women who took part in the project".

Nadia has worked on setting up small businesses, such as food processing projects, and has facilitated fundraising and  training courses for local women on agricultural practices, to enable them to support their families and strengthen their livelihoods. “I can testify that the impact of this project has been significant in creating job opportunities for the Jordanian and Syrian women involved. We produce the thyme and harvest it monthly, then sell it fresh, dried or processed, in local markets. We sell our products at festivals and bazaars such as the Olive tree festival, the Jameed festival, the Ghee festival and charity bazaars. We currently have no access to export markets, but we look forward to accessing any opportunities outside of Jordan as we are confident in our experience and the quality of our products. I am looking forward to expanding the cooperative's activities and job opportunities to involve an ever-growing group of collaborators, ”adds Nadia, showing the jars of thyme labeled and ready for sale.

The project already represents a successful business model: similar greenhouses have been installed by private individuals on the adjacent land, and we hope that such small-scale projects will be replicated further and ultimately contribute to increased income generation opportunities and enhanced resilience of a growing number of vulnerable women, men and families.

Discover Madaba: a sustainable tourism project


Madaba, 10 october 2021 – Site visit today at the Cathedral Area of Madaba, where the University of Perugia is carrying out archaeological excavations as part of the activities under the “Discovering Madaba: a sustainable tourism project”, funded by AICS in the framework of the interventions on cultural heritage linked to sustainable development.

The Head of AICS Amman Mr Emilio Cabasino joined representatives from the University and project staff working on the site of the Cathedral. This area is one of the largest urban archaeological areas of Madaba, comprising a Byzantine religious complex with large mosaic floors. As the area was in a state of complete abandonment, the project aims to provide the cleaning and restoration of mosaics and structures and extensive archaeological excavations to show the chronological overlapping of the structures, from the Iron Age to the Byzantine Era.

The visit continued to the training courses held at the Madaba Institute for Mosaic Art and Restoration (MIMAR) where the first of 21 specialist trainings on conservation, enhancement and management of cultural heritage and sustainable tourism development are being delivered to a group of 15 people selected from the employees of the Department of Antiquities of Madaba (DoA) and students of the MIMAR.

“Discover Madaba: a sustainable tourism project” is an intervention originated from a specific need of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan to protect and promote the cultural heritage of the city of Madaba, that present problems of conservation and stability of structures, accessibility and proper use for visitors, particularly in some areas of the city. As archaeological sites and historic places are in fact major tourist attraction, and represent a valuable sources of revenue, AICS Amman is supporting  Jordan in providing adequate site management to counteract deterioration and enhance valorization of sites to increase their social, historical, educational, and economic potential, as well as raise awareness of shared cultural heritage to boost cultural and archaeological tourism to places of historical significance.



Hanan’s first job

Jerash, Jordan - "My name is Hanan, I live in the Gaza refugee camp in Jerash, Jordan, and I am a mother of five children. My story begins with my participation in the training for women organized by AVSI ".

Hanan is one of the 629 beneficiaries of the "Aamal" project, implemented by AVSI Foundation and OXFAM thanks to the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). The initiative took place between April 2017 and June 2018 in Lebanon and Jordan, and focused on vocational training and social inclusion of vulnerable young people.

In Jordan, the project strengthened the soft skills – namely transversal skills such as leadership and effective communication – and the technical and professional skills of 151 Jordanians and Syrian and Palestinian refugees. At the same time, public and private sector’s actors were involved in the project, such as the Vocational Training Corporation (VTC) and Sitti Soap, a social enterprise that provides refugee women with decent job opportunities in the soap industry.

Hanan and the other 150 beneficiaries’ experience began with their participation in a session of life skills – i.e. skills such as empathy and stress management – that helped her to embark on a path of self-awareness and understanding of the other.

"The training has helped me both personally and professionally," Hanan tells us. "I feel I am a better person now, and I would like to help others around me to improve themselves, starting with my family and my children".

As many other beneficiaries, Hanan had never worked before. Prior to her participation in “Aamal”, she had mainly focussed on taking care of her house and children in the "Gaza" camp on the outskirts of Jerash – an ancient Roman city 50 kilometers north of Amman.

After the life skills’ session, Hanan started a vocational training at Sitti Soap, learning how to turn olive oil into various kinds of soap. "I wanted to prove myself, so I started the soap-making training. Before I was just using the soap, now I am producing it!"

Thanks to the project funded by AICS, Hanan also had the opportunity to meet new people and forge new social relationships, especially with "my ten sisters with whom I participated in training".

At the end of the vocational training, Hanan did a two-month internship in the same social enterprise, during which she was followed by a mentor. The mentors of “Aamal” periodically visited the factories, shops and workshops where the beneficiaries were carrying out their training to monitor their presence, make sure that they were not facing problems with their employer or with the assigned tasks and that these would match the skills recently acquired.

"Now I work with Sitti Soap and I feel part of the enterprise". After her internship, Hanan was offered to continue working with Sitti Soap for 20 hours a week, so as to give her time to take care of her children.

"Aamal gave me a chance to make my dreams true", concludes Hanan. This is why she wants to thank AVSI and AICS for "giving me the great opportunity of participating in this project".

AVSI Jordan

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