Multilateral Water Research in the Near and Middle East

BMBF funding announcement: 'Richtlinie zur Förderung von Zuwendungen für Forschungs- und Entwicklungsvorhaben zum Thema „Wasserforschung im Nahen und Mittleren Osten“

Almost all countries in the Middle East suffer from a rapidly increasing water shortage. They belong to the group of countries most severely affected by water stress worldwide. The region's water supply significantly draws upon groundwater resources, many of which are not renewable and will dry up within a few decades at the current extraction rates. The level of competition for water is already high, characterised by an overuse of water resources, worsening living conditions and the loss of ecosystems. In addition, this region is particularly affected by global climate change. The increasing amount of wastewater caused by population and economic growth meets an inadequate wastewater infrastructure combined with unused potential for water reuse. As a result, the Middle East will need substantial investments and innovations in the water sector in the coming years. These must go hand in hand with an increase in water use efficiency, an improved water resource management and the implementation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There are already efficient and proven approaches in individual countries, e.g. in Israel. However, there is limited transfer of successful solutions between the different actors due to the political conditions in the region. Multilateral research projects may overcome some of these barriers by jointly developing new solutions and by disseminating innovative environmental technologies in the participating countries.

Against this background, the BMBF has now announced a new funding initiative. The aim is to contribute to increasing water security in the Middle East – across national borders. To this end, the ministry will fund multilateral research and development projects on:

  1. Technologies to increase water use efficiency
  2. Integrated Water Resources Management

Proposals have to address the overarching objectives:

  • To improve the water situation in the Middle East. Transferability of the results to comparable regions should preferably be ensured.
  • To support and promote cooperation between the participating countries in the water sector as well as cooperation between science and industry
  • To disseminate innovative environmental technologies in the participating countries

The intended projects need to focus on innovative and applied research approaches, technologies and concepts. They should support capacity development and address specific application cases.

Joint projects shall include at least one German partner and two partners from the Near and Middle East. The international cooperation partners shall be an integral part of the project with own contributions matching their national interests. BMBF funding covers only German project partners researching for an improvement of water security in the Near and Middle East. Exceptions are possible for partners from developing countries, which may receive additional support from the BMBF. Partners from Israel may benefit from a complementary call for proposals published by MOST (

Funding may be provided for project related labour, travel, materials and equipment investments. Construction costs for infrastructure are excluded. For multilateral cooperation projects with Israel, Germany and third countries, additional funds from MOST may be available for mobility support of third countries.

The official text of the German announcement is available here.