UfM to support Smart DESERT project, fighting water scarcity in Jordan
March 2, 2023
The Senior Officials of the Union for the Mediterranean held their first meeting of the year to discuss the main actions planned for 2023, and unanimously endorsed a new cooperation project. Smart DESERT is implemented in Jordan, a country burdened by extreme water scarcity, where the related challenges have been aggravated by an increasing influx of refugees since the year 2011. The population’s growth has caused additional demand for water, resulting in local shortages and, ultimately, enormous pressures on the sewage network and wastewater treatment plants.
Striving for the economic empowerment of vulnerable populations (including the refugee communities from Syria and Palestine, as well as Jordanians in need) in the agricultural sector, the Smart DESERT project is designed to achieve two key objectives within the next 36 months: increased year-round income, and improved working conditions for those involved in farming-related activities in the northern highlands, proofing the concept of sustainable agriculture. Funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for a total cost of 10.6 million €, the project proves a high potential replicability to other countries of the region.
Additionally, Senior Officials were briefed on the 2023 priorities and activities of the UfM Secretariat in several key sectors, notably the upcoming launch of two grant schemes to fund projects on green jobs and trade, the presentation of the UfM Youth Action Plan and the holding of regional conferences and working groups on key issues such as energy and climate change, food security, disability, civil protection, youth entrepreneurship, digitalization or social economy, among others. They also discussed the upcoming ministerial meetings on Urban Development (Croatia, May), Trade (Spain, October), Higher Education (Morocco, November), additionally to the one on Transport (which took place online on February 9th).