Jordan is one of the world's most arid countries and is particularly affected by climate change and extreme weather events. Heavy rain and flash floods repeatedly lead to high property damage and fatalities. A research network led by ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research is pursuing the goal of identifying measures for reducing disaster damage in Jordan that are also suitable for harnessing heavy rainfall in order to improve water supply. The German-Jordanian team of “CapTain Rain” started research work in Amman at the beginning of October. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Jordan suffers from a lack of water. Eighty percent of the country are a desert, and the few groundwater reserves are not sufficient to supply the population with sufficient drinking water and provide water for agriculture. Climate change is exacerbating the situation, which is partly due to increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Prolonged periods of drought and aridity are more and more followed by heavy rains with destructive flash floods. “If we succeed in better predicting heavy rainfall events in the future, we can improve risk management and minimize flood damage, and also develop targeted solutions for sustainable water harvesting following heavy rainfall events,” says project manager Katja Brinkmann of ISOE.
In order to develop suitable early warning systems and identify targeted adaptation measures to climate change in Jordan, the researchers are working closely with Jordanian research institutions, authorities and ministries in the transdisciplinary project “Capture and retain heavy rainfalls in Jordan”, or CapTain Rain for short. The first stakeholder workshop and official launch event took place in Amman on October 3, 2021 with more than 50 participants from Jordan and Germany. The project team also reported on the recent flood disaster that took place in Germany in July 2021, and together they discussed what lessons could be learned from this and how they could be transferred to Jordan. As a result, the CapTain Rain team was able to identify knowledge gaps and needs for action in heavy rain risk prevention.
Transdisciplinary approach for better risk preparedness
“To improve forecasts of extreme weather events, it is crucial to understand which are the social-ecological drivers of flash flood events,” says project leader Brinkmann. “We want to find out what promotes flash floods in Jordan and investigate the complex underlying interactions between climate and land use.” To this end, the team is working with a transdisciplinary research approach that also captures the perspective of stakeholders on site, as well as that of the local population and takes their knowledge and risk perceptions into consideration. “This allows us to conduct a holistic analysis of flash flood risk and hazard prevention,” says environmental scientist Brinkmann.
For this purpose, the research team has already conducted expert interviews. Employees of Jordanian authorities and universities as well as international development cooperation organizations were asked about their practical knowledge in connection with flash flood risks and heavy rainfall prevention and how they assess possible options for action. Methods for the retention, storage and utilization of rainwater, for example, are considered to be promising. Interviews with civil society actors will also be conducted as the project progresses.
The key to adapting to the consequences of climate change
Merging the scientific results with application-oriented and local findings will then serve as the basis for developing and implementing an adapted risk management system for Jordan. However, the results from CapTain Rain could also be important for other countries affected by heavy rainfall events. “The goal of the research project is to enhance current methods and tools for flash flood prediction and advance the prevention of disaster damage,” says Brinkmann. “This will lead us to optimized climate services and early warning systems that are considered pivotal for adapting to the consequences of climate change worldwide.”
About the CapTain Rain research project
As part of the FONA strategy (Research for Sustainability) and the funding measure “International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovation (CLIENT II) the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the research project “CapTain Rain – Capture and retain heavy rainfall in Jordan” for a period of three years with 1.8 million euros”. ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research is heading the project with the project partners in the research network being Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hamburger Stadtentwässerung AöR, Kisters AG, Institute for Technical and Scientific Hydrology GmbH, the Jordanian Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the National Agricultural Research Center, as well as the Greater Amman Municipality and Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority.
Press photo CapTain Rain (jpg, 3.2 MB)
When using the press photo, please indicate the source: © Katja Brinkmann/ISOE
Caption: The ancient Nabataean drainage tunnel (Mudhlim tunnel and remains of the dam) in Petra, World Heritage Site in Jordan (September 2021)
Dr. Katja Brinkmann
Phone +49 69 7076919-42
Phone +49 69 7076919-51