Social Marketing: Towards Empowering Jordanian Local Communities in Water Demand Management

Eng. Tharwa Qotaish, Eng.Rana Ardah, Eng. Hamad
Bani Hamad, Eng. Moyyed Al-Sayyed
Knowledge Cluster - Energy, Water and Environment
Sector.
Royal Scientific Society
Amman – Jordan

Key Words: Water Demand Management, Youth, Behavior Change, Social Marketing, & Advocacy.



Key Words: Water Demand Management, Youth, Behavior Change, Social Marketing, & Advocacy.

Jordan is facing a continuing imbalance between the water demands by different sectors and the available supply of freshwater. The gap between demand and the available water supplies is expected to continue. Although technical solutions are required to overcome water problems, social marketing techniques that raise the level of knowledge and awareness in water-related issues that lead to behavior change are also required. Getting the youth and the local communities involved will ensure the success and sustainability of behavior change efforts. Jordan is described as a "young community". This descriptive expression stems from the fact that the age of more than 55% of its population is less than 24 years. Therefore, any project that overlooks the role of youth in its implementation and methodology will not produce sustainable and effective outputs.

The Royal Scientific Society (RSS) of Jordan was engaged, during the period (February– October 2012), in a behavior change- social marketing and advocacy- project titled "Increase Youth Public Discourse in Key Water Issues in Jerash Governorate", that was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/ Public Action for Water, Energy and Environment Project (PAP). The project aims at enabling youth in peri-urban communities in Jordan, in which water scarcity problems are prominent, to increase their understanding of water issues, for the purpose of formulating an efficient advocacy group to contribute in solving their water problems and change improper water related behaviors and foster good ones. The project activities are focusing on Youth from 15-25 years in villages of Jerash, Souf and Sakeb at Jerash governorate. The project promotes youth participation and discourse in and between communities and clusters to address water issues, of which water supply, utilization and pollution are major concerns.

The initiative was launched in February 2012 where the advocacy group "Jerash Youth Committee for Water (JYC)" was formulated, comprising thirty youth aging 15- 25 years, in close cooperation with the Higher Council for Youth. The committee members, together with RSS dedicated task force, conducted a situational analysis survey in the three targeted areas; accordingly, an advocacy case was determined. Then, an action plan was implemented to achieve Jerash advocacy case objectives, and a Facebook page was launched to publicize the committee's activities and facilitate communication and promote good environmental social behaviors:
( www.facebook.com/JerashYouthWater ). A number of training workshops targeting the committee members were implemented, where a good experience regarding human development skills as well as water demand management aspects was gained by JYC. The committee members took the lead in transferring this knowledge to their peers through different youth activities.

The Committee members, in close cooperation with the RSS ' dedicated task force, Jerash Water Authority, and the private sector represented by Yarmouk Water Company, has held several workshops and brainstorming sessions with Jerash housewives to build their awareness regarding water scarcity in Jordan and managed to conduct water audits for 150 houses in Jerash, Sakeb, and Souf; and accordingly managed to install 600 water saving devices.

An institutional framework for JYC was drafted by RSS team and discussed with the project core team in order to institutionalize the committee work. As well; a sustainability plan was approved by the Higher Council for Youth in order to sustain the committee's work after the project activities phase out.

Many lessons were learnt during the project lifespan, among these are; youth have the energy and capabilities to change themselves and their local communities, and if this energy is well utilized, they can become partners in communication. Once mobilized, youth can become partners in advocacy and public dialogues regarding key water issues where and the decisions and behaviors of youth groups play a crucial role in water demand management aspects.

It was concluded that knowledge about an issue is not enough to create change, the key is to involve the youth in the process of making decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions, so they have ownership, responsibility and passion to practice and advocate for behaviors needed for water conservation, and while efficient water technologies play a vital role in reducing water consumption, personal and social behaviors associated with water conservation are also important to practice. Promoting and sustaining these behaviors will create habits that are an important part of the systems approach to water demand reduction.

Additionally, it should be mentioned that the private sector has strong experience and knowledge of the problems facing water, energy and solid waste sectors, nevertheless, private sector lacks the soft science skills to conduct communication or social marketing. Therefore, building the communication tools of the partners in any project is an agent for behavioral change in the communities, and should be identified during the project preparatory phases.

In conclusion, it should be highlighted that youth in commission will not be able to advocate for something they are not convinced of, hence, the values of water conservation, water saving and water management were spontaneously instilled and fostered in youth involved in commission so as to enable them to deliver these values to others. In a few words, this project had substantial impacts on youth behaviors toward water resources.
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