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Yarmouk Info Hub

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The Yarmouk Futures Programme seeks to facilitate the emergence of law-based, equitable and sustainable transboundary water arrangements, with a focus on the Yarmouk tributary of the Jordan River.

The Yarmouk Futures Programme is part of the Blue Peace Middle East Initiative, a structured and dynamic network consisting of prominent institutions from partner countries in the region to enable water cooperation in the Middle East and create an institutional cooperation mechanism for the sustainable management of water resources.

The Yarmouk Info Hub is in effect a depository for all types of knowledge produced by our team: from rigorous hydrological and political analysis to films and infographics – all to encourage effective transboundary water resources management.

Voices from the Yarmouk River Basin: new ways of knowing water

In this series of videos, we take you on a journey through the Yarmouk Tributary of the Jordan and its River Basin. You get a glimpse of communities stories and reflection on their relation with the river and water resources. Through a deep and rich reflection into the past, present and future of the basin, people of the Yarmouk Basin show us that the story is not just about a water source or a river. The Yarmouk Basin and its water resources contribute to the livelihood of many Jordanians and Syrians who are engaged in agriculture and herding, but is also a source of their traditions, belonging, collective memory, a place of leisure and natural beauty. Our approach in this project is to speak of ‘Yarmouk Futures’, where we aim to  increase common understanding of the importance of the Yarmouk Tributary to the Jordan River not only as a waterbody but as a lifeline and intimate part of the lives of Yarmouk Basin communities. Listen to these personal reflections from different regions of the basin, and discover how imagining and realising a better future scenario must include Yarmouk communities knowledge and ensure ways through which their views are taken into account by decision makers, donor agencies and relevant stakeholders. Click on each image for a full link to the video. 

Abu Muthanna, Dr. Taleb Maslamani lives on the Jordanian side of the basin in Sahm Al Kafarat village. Abu Muthanna beautifully narrates the transformations of relations between Yarmouk Basin communities and the Yarmouk River that he witnessed from a young age. These changes continue to impact livelihood practices, community relations with the river and how people’s collective memory was transformed when the river became border. Abu Muthanna leaves us with feelings of hope for a better future for younger generations where their relations with the river could be restored.

Dr. Laith Al Rousan takes us on a tour of his farmland in Al Mukheibeh al Tahta in Jordan, a land he inherited from his father. Located in the water abundant part of the basin and close to the Yarmouk River, the region has multiple springs, woodlands and hilly slopes where livelihoods around farming and herding go back generations. As part of a discovery of artesian groundwater in nearby Al Himmeh, a Jordanian project of canal construction commenced in the 1980s to utilise this water for the thirsty cities. However, this project was abruptly abandoned due to the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. The video depicts the contradictory logic and realities of how water should be used and managed from the perspective of engaged water users and that of the state, especially in transboundary river basins such as the Yarmouk. 

The Yarmouk Basin mostly sits on Syrian land and historically, economic activities transcended the border between Jordan and Syria where farmers and merchants crossed the river and established strong relations of kinship. Today, the plight of the Syrian refugees forces them to seek refuge and restart their lives again. Um Luay and Abu Luay tell us a story of reconnection to land and water in Al Rafeed village in Jordan and reminisce about life and livelihoods in their home villages in Der’aa. Um Luay shares her extensive knowledge of water management in Syria and reflects on how water is used and valued in Jordan, where she engages in entrepreneurial projects despite limited water sources available for her and her family

Abu Anees narrates the story of farming in Jordan, where the search for ever-dwindling sources of water exposes a short-term and unsustainable mode of resource exploitation. His farm is based at the eastern part of the Basin in Al-Mafraq where extensive groundwater abstraction is taking place to support agri-business type of farming. He takes on a journey in his land and we get a chance to see the infrastructural assemblages required for the land to become productive and the changes to crop selection Abu Anees has been required to carry out depending on water availability, which he describes as becoming scarcer. Abu Anees continues to reflect on how national policies and realities of mass migration also play a role in how agricultural activities are carried out.

The occupied Golan Heights has been framed as a case of a ‘forgotten occupation’ and in this video, we aim to centre the occupied Golan as an integral part of the Yarmouk River Basin. Characterised by its significant geostrategic and hydrological significance, the waters of the Golan and the Syrian Jawlani communities that remain there remain occupied and denied access to their lands and water. Dr. Nazih Brik provides a comprehensive survey of Israeli occupation of Golan water. Farmer Salah Maghribi sheds light on Jawlani Syrian water struggles to remain in agriculture and develop adequate water capturing infrastructures in light of this ongoing disposession.

Modern Technology and Science leading to Better Policy and Transboundary Hydrogovernance in the Yarmouk Basin

One of the main objective of the Yarmouk Futures and previous Yarmouk projects is to establish, publish and contribute to evidence-based and science informed policy making. It also promotes open access of these knowledge databases to users and communities of the basin to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the pressing issues facing water in the basin. Below, we highlight impressive databases developed by our team including a Watershed Webmap, a Land Cover/Land Use Change (LUC) Dashboard, and a GIS Storytelling map. 

The Yarmouk Watershed Webmap

The Watershed Webmap visually illustrate water use and exploitation in the river basin, allowing the user to navigate through layers where important aspects of water management can be highlighted such as dams, wells and plotted in relation with demographics, drainage and river course.

To explore the web map, please follow the link or click on the image to the left.


Land Cover/Land Use Change in the YTB (1962-2020)

To explore the web map, please follow the link or click on the image to the left.

The Yarmouk tributary basin as a region has been the site of historical developments in the Levant, both in terms of being a territorial object of colonial conquest over natural resources, but also as a geography of nation-state building and infrastructural development. We also situate the Yarmouk Tributary Basin as a site where communities were not only heavily impacted by the above impositions but also playing active roles  in shaping the basin and its water use and management. Our study traces how the Yarmouk as a river and the basin as a region have been transformed throughout the decades, paying attention to the political context, infrastructural development, inter-basin arrangements and agreements.

To explore the web map, please follow the link  or click on the image to the left. 



Ethnographic study: The story of the Yarmouk River – From a border to a political order – Fadi Masamreh

In addition to being the most prominent body of surface water in the Yarmouk Basin, the Yarmouk River offers another compelling reason to make it the subject of this study: Its 20th century history embodies the intense political and social changes that have occurred in the region. Historically, the Ottoman Empire attempted to use the river to revive and reconnect its ailing empire. The river was also a site for colonial tampering in the region, and has been exploited to create sub-identities only to advance colonial interests, hegemony and control in order to enable extreme forms of colonial looting. That process required the subjugation of nature to serve the colonial interests and aid in the process of domination and plunder. In later days, the river also became the site of military operations aimed at severing ties between its sides. Further, the river tells the fates of water projects that planners sought to exploit and commodify its waters, as well as the new relations that ensued between the region’s residents and the river. By condensing the region’s history as such, the river reveals to us the overwhelming relations of alienation in region; the alienation of inhabitants from their surroundings, from each other, and from nature. The Yarmouk River is thus an embodiment of intense “alienation”. 

Click on image for Study in Arabic and English

Optimal Water Abstraction Infrastructure in Yarmouk River Basin – Amin Shaban

There are many studies and research projects done on the YTJRB where the largest part of these studies was on the hydro-political situation. However, the exaggerated stresses on water resources in this basin makes it necessary to emphasis on searching for new and alternative methods to conserve (qualitatively and quantitively) the available water resources and look for new resources in order to balance the supply/demand. This will include, in a broad sense, identification of the existing challenges and trends, addressing major infrastructure and biophysical challenges, water and wastewater reclamation and reuse, assessing the environmental flow requirements, and then propose best practices and solutions. This report, as a part of the ‘Infrastructure Prefeasibility’ discusses all these themes. It is, in-depth, analyze and diagnose the existing water resources problems as well as the most feasible approaches to be followed in order to reach an optimal abstraction of water resources in this basin as well as new recommendations for infrastructure managements. 

Water Accounting Plus (WA+) for Yarmouk Tributary Basin – China Tarhini

This report provides the water accounting plus study for the Yarmouk Tributary Basin during 2009. Yarmouk is considered as an important basin that is shared between three countries: Jordan, Syria and OSOL. The study focuses on water resources within the basin, classification of land use categories, the processes by which water is depleted over all land use classes, as well as, beneficial and non-beneficial usage of water. The Yarmouk’s water resources are facing many challenges. The over development of infrastructure, the ambiguous treaties done by the shared countries, and the over abstraction of surface and ground water from legal and illegal wells led to declining in river flow, lowering the water table, and water scarcity and pollution all over the basin. Moreover, data for stations within the basin are not available by which neither Syria nor Jordan provide complete and reliable gauge data. Among these difficulties and problems, Water Accounting Plus framework using remote sensing products derived from different satellites has been applied to scan Yarmouk Basin that leads to more understanding of the situation, provides a hydrological and political baseline that focus on water depletion over land use classes. 

Scenario Simulation and Analysis in the Transboundary Yarmouk River Basin Using a WEAP Model – Hassan Al Sabeh

Water is a finite resource but an essential one. The continuously increasing demand lead to competition and conflict over limited water resources. Syria, Jordan and the occupying state of Israel (OSoI) compete over the water resources in the transboundary Yarmouk river basin where two water agreements dictate the allocation of water. The two water arrangements are far from being efficient and fair (Zeitoun et al. 2019a). Little cooperation is made over sharing water resources that are being over-exploited. In this study, the water sustainability was investigated under projected developments and trends based on the current use and allocation regime in the watershed and under possible future scenarios. A one bucket soil moisture model was adopted and used to build and optimize the ever-changing hydrology of basin using Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) tool. Demands along with the existing water infrastructure and their operation were modelled despite the lack of many data and the huge uncertainty in some.

 Virtual Water and Food Trade – Yarmouk Tributary to the Jordan River – Dr. Roula Bachour 

In water scarce countries, and with increase of pressure on water resources and climate change challenges especially in terms of drought, understanding the virtual water trade concept and strategy is important for formulating informed policies for improving water use efficiency at different levels. It is crucial understand the virtual water food trade on the basin level in order to be able to develop a management plan that takes into consideration the agricultural potential, water resources and other environmental factors, market potential as well as the socio-economic aspects. The main objective of this study is to detail the extent that food production and food trade relates to water resources use in the transboundary Yarmouk basin between Syria and Jordan. The specific objectives are to quantify and qualify food trades and virtual water patterns in both countries and downscale it to the Yarmouk basin level, explore potential export market, and recommend scenarios for a management plan for food trade. 

 Narratives and perceptions on the Yarmouk tributary of the Jordan River: A Basin-Wide Survey – Dr. Muna Dajani 

The aim of this survey is to identify narratives on the Yarmouk tributary of the Jordan River (YTJR) held by different sectors of society in countries of the YTB (Jordan, Syria, and Israel), including the occupied Syrian Golan), as well as neighbouring countries (Lebanon and Palestine) and the international water diplomatic and management community. Specifically, the survey aimed to investigate narratives related to water use and water management and how it changed over the past 30 years, as well as perceptions on the bilateral agreements and the hydrocolloidal conflict within the YTB. To do so, the survey relies on two dominant narratives identified by Hussein (2018a) of water insufficiency and water mismanagement as a departing point and then expand to investigate additional narratives that arise when analysing survey participants’ responses. To do so, the survey also investigates whether water users construct varying narratives on water conflict, or they replicate the official discourses as well as to explore whether the basin inhabitants and populations of the countries in the region concur or disagree with these narratives. 

Maps and Poster

Yarmouk Tributary of the Jordan River Basin Arabic Map
Yarmouk Tributary of the Jordan River Basin English Map
YTJR poster
Yarmouk Tributary of the Jordan River Poster

The Yarmouk Hydropolitical Baseline Project (YHPB)

The objective of the YHPB is to provide the rigorous hydrological and political analysis required for effective transboundary water resources management and hydro-diplomacy programming throughout the Yarmouk and wider Jordan River Basin.  To that end, it has produced a comprehensive report, infographics, a poster, journal articles and a land-use map presented here.

The YHPB project reflects the necessary act of examining the past to illuminate the present and shape the future.



UEA Yarmouk Hydrogeology
Hydrogeology of the Yarmouk Basin
UEA Yarmouk Water Use and Quality
Yarmouk Water Use and Quality
UEA Yarmouk Infrastructure and Institutions
Yarmouk Infrastructure and Institutions
UEA Yarmouk Futures
Yarmouk Future Scenarios

Journal Articles





Zeitoun, M., Abdallah, C., Dajani, M., Khresat, S., Elaydi, H., Alfarra, A. (2019) The Yarmouk tributary to the Jordan River I: Agreements impeding equitable transboundary water arrangements. Water Alternatives 12(13): 1064-1094. Read More






Zeitoun, M., Dajani, M., Abdallah, C. Khresat, S., Elaydi, H. (2019) The Yarmouk tributary to the Jordan River II: Infrastructure impeding the transformation of equitable transboundary water arrangement. Water Alternatives 12(3): 1095-1122 Read More





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