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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 3 (2014 Deadline)

Enhancing water education at the university level in Jordan by incorporating an innovative multi-agent modeling and analysis tool

PI: Samer Talozi (samerbse@just.edu.jo), Jordan University of Science and Technology
U.S. Partner: Steven M. Gorelick, Stanford University
Project Dates: September 2014 to October 2017
 

3-39 Talozi1
Dr. Daanish Mustafa is writing notes as Eng. Elham El Shorofat translates. In the picture also, is Abu Kishk, his son and grandson in the background, a Jordanian farmer since the 1950s.  The interview focused on the historical setting of agro-business and how laws, regulations and changing circumstances have shaped agriculture in Jordan as we see it today. This interview took place in his farm in Mafraq
Adaptation of water resources planning techniques into a class-teaching setting is challenging and requires accurate procedures. Previous water resource studies in Jordan inspected particular hydrologic elements and suggested potential strategies, but there have been no comprehensive water policy evaluation tools. In all previous efforts, representation of the multifaceted institutional environment that constrains interactions among water users, distributors, and managers has been either absent or highly generic. The research team of the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) will create a teaching and a training module based on the model produced by the U.S. partner, which will be incorporated into a university course and a training workshop for water professionals. The modules will be used by the students and water professionals to evaluate and compare a diverse set of water-policy interventions that can be short or long-term. Short-term scenarios will be used to explore institutional modifications. For the long-term horizon, the large infrastructure projects such as the Red-Dead Sea project will play a dominant role. Based on the results of the scenario and policy intervention analysis, alternative freshwater resources strategies will be identified that prioritize policy alternatives to enhance sustainability and security of Jordan’s freshwater system, taking into account the broad range of future environmental and socioeconomic possibilities.

The project will strengthen higher education at JUST and workforce development in water programs, which will contribute to economic growth in Jordan. The incorporation of the multi-agent model in class teaching will foster innovation in education and develop new learning materials and methods. The research project also aims to improve water resource management and contribute to reforming governance and regulations to equitably share access and defuse competition, as well as strengthen the resilience and response to disasters in order to help Jordan adapt to a changing climate. The tools developed by this project will enable decision makers and professionals to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, so Jordan can grow without harming the environment while strengthening its resilience to warmer temperatures and weather shocks. The format of this work is focused on education to an audience that is primarily female students; as a result, the role of women and girls throughout the duration of the project will be enhanced. This project meets USAID's development goals in education and water and is also expected to have an impact on women’s empowerment, food security, and climate change. The output of the U.S. partner’s project will be used by the research project team for education and training in Jordan and the Middle East, which will ensure the dissemination of the new technology.

Summary of Recent Activities

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Pictures taken at the end of the Masters Students Training Program- April 30, 2017 [Photos courtesy of Dr. Talozi]
The PEER project is in its final stages. The major focus of the project during the April-June 2017 has been outreach and training. The research team finalized the second training program for graduate students and started the third and last training program which is designed for professional staff from the public and private sectors. While the course material is almost complete, talks to offer the course during the fall semester as an elective course are ongoing within the civil engineering department.

Potential Development Impacts:
(1) Education - the training programs are designed with close coordination with Stanford University. The programs are of high-quality and state-of-the-art education hydro-informatic modeling tools such as SWAT and WEAP. The programs are now ready to be used in future years and are designed on 3 different levels: 1- Undergraduate level, 2- Graduate level, and 3- Professional practitioners' level.
(2) Water. The PEER project, with support from the NSF project, was able to create training material using Jordanian data. The objective is to equip Jordanian students with solid knowledge of the issues related to the water sector in Jordan.
(3) Female Participation: 10 out of 12 of the participants in the graduate training course are female engineering students. 8 out of the 17 participants in the professional training program were females. Both training programs were conducted by 2 senior female engineers as well.

Outreach and collaboration: Participation at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 in Vienna, Austria  23–28 April 2017 gave an opportunity for the team to present the results of the commercial sector survey, including topics on “Spatial analysis of private tanker water markets in Jordan: Using a hydroeconomic multi-agent model to simulate non-observed water transfers”.

The researchers of the NSF and Belmont project teams visited Jordan and met with the PEER researchers in May 2017. The purpose of the visit was to: (1) discuss the final status of the NSF, Belmont and PEER projects, (2) potential future plans, and (3) meet with relevant stakeholders in Jordan for outreach. The stakeholders attending this event included the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, MWI, Jordan Valley Authority, JVA; Water Authority of Jordan, WAJ, and Jordan Water Company, Meyahona.

A training course "Hydroinformatics and GIS: Applications in Water, Environment and Agriculture" intended for  professional staff from the public and private sectors in Irbid, Jordan is taking place 27 July – 24 August 2017, with a total of 17 professionals participating.

Future plans: during the remaining time of the project, the team will conduct five remaining training sessions. The project is scheduled to be completed in October 2017. 

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