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The National Council for Scientific Research in Lebanon, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Jordan, the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences in Egypt, the “Centre Royal de Télédétection Spatiale” in Morocco, the “Centre Régional de Télédétection des Etats de l’Afrique du Nord” for the benefit of Tunisia and the Arab Water Council have joined their efforts with the World Bank to produce the draft of a project entitled: Regional Coordination on Improved Water Resources Management and Capacity Building Program.

Project Objectives:

The proposed project development objective is to improve water resources and agricultural management and planning within and across beneficiary countries, based on quantitative and spatial-based decision making tools.

The main beneficiary countries of this Project will be the Arab Republic of Egypt, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Kingdom of Morocco, Lebanese Republic, and the Republic of Tunisia.

Achievement of the development objective will be assessed through the following key performance indicators:

Water Information System Platform (WISP) operational in at least 3 of four implementing agencies.
Number of major water resources decisions made taking into consideration WISP tools.
Regional project data portal developed and operational according to International Waters IW:LEARN guidelines. Recipient countries will benefit from the expected project outcome of enhanced capacity in remote sensing and will be able to better: -Compile past and current water conditions to inform improved water policy decisions;
-Generate maps of soil wetness and estimates of irrigation water use for large scale agricultural productivity assessments and planning;
-Provide water balance data for a regional and temporal perspective to identify local, short term and long term trends in water usage anomalies;
-Monitor extent and severity of droughts;
-Estimate current water storage conditions in the uplands of river basins to improve river flow predictions and;
Evaluate potential increases/decreases in irrigation water requirements under various climate change scenarios to inform the planning of agricultural policies.

The Regional Coordination on Improved Water Resources Management and Capacity Building Project will consist of three components described below:

Component 1: Improved Local Water Resources and Agricultural Management (3.4 million USD)

Component 1 will comprise: (a) the purchase, installation and validation of various WISP tools and other ancillary equipment to remote sensing centers and stakeholder agencies and institutions in each of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and the CRTEAN and its partners and (b) application of WISP tools to pertinent research issues in local and regional water resources agricultural and environmental management. Ancillary equipment includes computers, printers, scanners, applicable software, weather stations, other pertinent in situ measurements of the water balance and short time intensive field data collection programs and equipment required for the full functioning of the WISP tools. Local applications priorities, described in detail in Annex II, include identification of drought and flood prone areas, estimation of groundwater fluxes, estimation of evapo-transpiration, monitoring climate change impacts, and crop yield estimates to inform agriculture and irrigation management decisions.

Component 2: Capacity Building and Project Management (1.54 million USD)

Component 2 will comprise: (a) capacity building (workshops and consultants) to implement the WISP tools; (b) local workshops to share results with local stakeholders; (c) participation in international conferences and study tour on environmental remote sensing (d) funding graduate fellowships (e) development of an online portal to share data across stakeholder institutions and (f) project management of the Grant.

Component 3: Regional Integration and Cooperation (394,595 USD)

Component 3 will comprise: (a) organization of quarterly workshops to share results with regional stakeholders; (b) development of an online portal to share regional results; (c) generation of once-yearly regional report on applications of regional significance. These applications include estimating the recharge rates of regional oversubscribed shared aquifers, optimizing the response to droughts and floods on the regional scale, and encouraging a more coordinated approach to management of trans-boundary water resources.