GNF - Rehabilitation Projekt Jordan River

Jordan River Rehabilitation Project


The Jordan River and the Dead Sea

The Jordan River is a river 300 km in length and rises from three principle sources in Israel, Lebanon and the Golan Heights in Syria (captured by Israel in 1967). The Upper Jordan River then flows into the Sea of Galilee, the largest fresh water lake in the Near East. The watershed of the Lower Jordan River (excluding that of the Dead Sea) encompasses Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian areas. The Jordan River once carried an average of 1.3 billion cubic meters of fresh water to the Dead Sea annually. Today this figure has been reduced to just 60 million cubic meters per year due to the diversion of 95 % of the River''s flow by Israel, Jordan and Syria.


Diverting the fresh water flow of the Jordan River tributaries has devastated the Dead Sea and its environs and transformed the culturally and historically important Jordan River into little more than an open channel of agricultural run-off, diverted saline waters and untreated sewage. As a result the water level of the Dead Sea – this unique salt-lake and lowest point on the surface of the planet – is dropping by one meter every year.

75 % of the Jordan River water is used for agriculture – especially in Israel and Jordan. For Israelis and Jordanians in particular the current water use patterns not only make no environmental sense but little economic sense. In Israel, for instance, agriculture consumes 50 % of the nation''s water resources but contributes only around 3 percent to its GDP. In Jordan, agriculture consumes two-thirds of the country’s water, but contributes a low percentage to its GDP. A clean, healthy river could generate tourism opportunities that are sorely missed today, bringing improved livelihood and economic benefits that would far outweigh those of current practices. Most of the politicians and of the local population wish to see the Jordan River “back alive”.

The Project

The primary goal of this project is to both identify the means by which water transfers to the Lower Jordan River could take place and help create the political will to make them happen. Mobilizing visionary leaders and good will champions from Jordan, Israel and Palestine to develop a dialogue and achieve concrete steps towards restoring the Jordan River will provide new opportunities for improved livelihoods of over 300.000 residents of the Jordan Valley, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli. This will be a significant contribution to develop understanding and a collaborative mechanism to manage common natural resources such as water in the Jordan Valley.


Having led the efforts to date for the river’s rehabilitation, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) understands that a regional approach, that brings all sides to act together, is a pre-requisite for gaining the political support for the flow of fresh water back to the river.

Primary Project Outputs

  1. Identify the environmental flow level required to rehabilitate the Lower Jordan.
  2. Identify the existing barriers that prevent national water reform policies.

  3. Conduct a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) to identify existing and possible opportunities ("wedges") to transfer fresh water resources to the river from the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian water economy at large, looking specifically at the agricultural, domestic and industrial water sectors.

  4. Develop and implement a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) in partnership with decision makers in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The SAP will aim to advance support for the implementation of policy to address each "wedge" identified in the study.

  5. Develop an international campaign to raise awareness on the state of the Lower Jordan River and the need for reform of regional water management.

The "wedges“ concept is a strategic tool developed to breakdown large complicated problems into more isolate and manageable "wedges“. This concept is applied to the Jordan River Rehabilitation Project during the Transboundary Diagnosis Analysis. The tool can help researchers and policy makers alike identify the percentage of water that could be saved in each sector of the water economy in each country that could be transferred back to the River Jordan.


The project will therefore seek to identify sufficient "wedges“ that in total will highlight to decision makers, the media and the general public that there are realistic economic and environmental options available to allow water to flow back into the Lower Jordan, if only there was the political will to do so.

 Unterer Jordan
 Jordan Valley, Photo: Itamar Grinberg

Project Duration:


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January 2011 – December 2011


Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Territories


Friends of the Earth Middle East


Sida, Goldman Fund, Osprey Foundation, Ursula Merz Foundation