The water sector in Jordan is considered to be one of the vital and important sectors. It deals with the reality that Jordan is the country which represents the most critical water case worldwide. Taking into consideration the great importance of water and how it is linked to social security, political and economic, Jordanian government cabinets have paid the greatest of attention towards water issues. As such, there has been a focus and concentrated attention on the water sector since His Majesty Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein ascended to the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The water sector in Jordan is one of the most critical sectors, as the country is ranked as one of the poorest countries worldwide in water supply. With climate change bringing drier weather to the Middle East, Jordan has fared worse than its neighbors. “Rainfall last year did not exceed 60% of the annual average. The deficit between the needs and the production for drinking is increasing year on year. Meanwhile, demand had risen sharply. Jordan’s population has doubled in the past 20 years, with waves of refugees including more than 1.5 million Syrians. Also, water scarcity has affected agriculture that consumes around 52% of supplies, which falls far beyond its need.
Over the past years the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, including the water authority and the Jordan Valley Authority, have taken large strides towards dealing with this reality, and have prepared for several scenarios through strategies to address growing water demand; especially after the Syrian refugee crisis, which raised the demand for water by more than 20%. Already the second most water-poor country in the world, Jordan has been facing dry weather conditions as a result of climate change. This has increased the strain on Jordan’s already scarce water resources with less than 90 cubic meters per capita a year available on average.
Reducing the physical and administrative losses is an immediate goal for the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. The water sector needs to invest $350 million over the next five years, which is part of the government’s goal to tackle chronic levels of water losses in the country’s network, that currently stand at around 50%. The goal is to reduce these losses to 25% by 2040 and to boost utility income by reducing the amount of non-revenue water. USAID will be the main contributor to the water loss reduction programme, and the budget will be used to upgrade the aging infrastructure and to introduce new technologies and new pumps.
The water sector aims to achieve sustainability of water sources, by drilling new wells in 3 fields (Husban, Pazil, Swaqa), improving the efficiency of energy and increasing the share of renewable energy in the water sector by the use of solar energy; and increasing the level of water and sanitation services for customers focusing on expanding the use of treated water to substitute the freshwater for drinking purposes.
The ministry seeks to provide new sources of fresh water by producing potable water through desalination at the Gulf of Aqaba and transferring 300 MCM/year of additional water to all of the cities through the Aqaba- Amman National Conveyance project (AAWDC Project).
The ministry is strengthening the principle of integrated water resources management to achieve sustainable development goals for the water sector (SDGs). The management of the water sector is working to reduce gas emissions resulting from global warming and to increase the competencies of up to 32 wastewater treatment plants, operated by the latest technologies covering the central, northern and southern governorates. In addition, expanding the number of stations and increasing the proportion of sewerage users from about 63% to 80%, thus providing greater quantities of pure drinking water through the increase of the quantities of recycled water used in irrigation which results in increasing the irrigated areas.
A financial sustainability road map was completed and put into force aiming at recovering the operational cost and hence reducing the governmental subsidy for the sector.