Reflections on the WPS MENA Training in Amman, Jordan 

By Benedetta Benzoni and Irina Patrahau (HCSS)

As part of the Water, Peace & Security (WPS) partnership’s ongoing efforts to strengthen conflict-sensitive water management and turn water into an opportunity for peace and collaboration, WPS organised a two-day training in Jordan in February 2024. The training was built around the WPS ‘toolbox’ of instruments, methods and approaches that integrate early warning and anticipatory action to manage and mitigate water-induced conflict risk.

Group photo MENA

The 30+ participants of this training session, comprising representatives from the Ministries of Water Resources across eight different countries in the MENA region, representatives from the IFRC’s regional offices, and Dutch diplomats working in the MENA, came together for two days of discussion and learning. The diversity of participants is a key part of WPS’ strategy of ensuring a whole-of-society approach to the prevention and mitigation of water-induced conflict, and ensured lively and useful discussions.

This training was designed to complete the Shiraka Water Management training programme, coordinated by Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and supported by  the Hague Academy for Local Governance.

Day 1: Introducing the WPS Toolbox

The ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Jordan, Harry Verweij, provided opening remarks, highlighting the importance of collaboration to address water-related security challenges in the MENA region. After that, the training kicked off with an introduction to the water-conflict nexus offered by Laura Birkman from The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS). This session, focussing on water as a threat multiplier, introduced water-conflict pathways as a useful instrument to understand root causes, mediating factors and conflict outcomes.

This was followed by a plenary session on the use of data and machine learning for proactive environmental security management, where Elizabeth Saccoccia from the World Resources Institute introduced participants to the WPS Global Early Warning Tool and its uses.


The day continued with two hands-on breakout sessions, both of which were highlighted by participants as being particularly useful for their daily work. In her negotiation-focussed session, Svenja Wolter from International Alert guided participants through understanding the needs, interests and positions of conflicting parties, as well as best-practices for dialogue facilitation. In their session on the causal loop, Bouke Ottow and Nancy Haddaden from Deltares focussed on the broader system dynamics that feed into the relationship of water and conflict and allowed participants to practice this understanding by building causal loop diagrams.

Day 2: Using the WPS Toolbox for conflict-sensitive water management

The second day opened with a session that brought back the WPS toolbox and discussed how to integrate these instruments into the work daily work of participants, led by Svenja Wolter from International Alert. Moreover, the session expanded the conversation on conflict sensitivity, and ways to identify and mitigate the potential risks and unintended consequences of an intervention on water management.

The WPS training ended with an interactive Serious Game, designed by Irina Patrahau (HCSS). This session allowed participants to apply their learnings and practice using the entirety of the WPS toolbox to try to mitigate a fictional scenario of a water-related conflict between the government and water user groups.


What next?

The WPS partnership continues its mobilisation and awareness efforts through its regional work. In the MENA region, The partnership is active in Iraq, where it organises training and dialogue sessions for local stakeholders on top of its work with policymakers. It is also active in Mali, Kenya and Ethiopia. If you are interested in the WPS toolbox, we offer free, publicly available training modules here.


Laura Birkman
Senior Strategic Analyst | Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)
Irina Patrahau
Strategic Analyst | Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)