The Arteries of the Nation: Repairing Jordan’s Water Networks
Jordan’s chronic water shortage problems have continued to pose major problems across the country, particularly in areas where old water networks have fallen into disrepair. The nation’s per-capita water resources are already effectively the lowest in the world, making it vital to recover the gallons of water that goes wasted every year due to infrastructural damage.
JOHUD’s WRAP project is always keen to preserve Jordan’s slim water resources, and will sometimes invest considerable amounts of capital in areas that struggle to provide adequate water resources to large populations. In the Ma’een area of Madaba governorate, this meant revitalising and repairing the local water network and limiting the volume of water that would be lost through cracks in the pipes and gaps in the system. JOHUD’s team also looked to revitalise the springs that provided much of the local farms with non-drinking water for crop irrigation (an activity that consumes the majority of Jordan’s meagre water resources).
As the project draws to a close in 2015, the considerable investment in Ma’een’s infrastructure has changed lives. The quality and quantity of household drinking water has improved immensely, helping to improve the health and wellbeing of around 20,000 local residents. Community leaders have also reported lowering tensions and arguments in the community over scant water resources. Local households are able to save money on their electricity bills, as it is no longer necessary to waste energy using electric pumps to fill the rooftop water tanks.
Madaba’s Water Authority is now far more able to provide high-quality services, as less time is spent managing an ever-growing crisis. For the first time, Water Authority managers are able to determine and measure the real needs and demands in the community, without official data being corrupted or biased due to water leakage in the system itself. As the number of complaints to the local Water Authority has fallen by 70%, callers now report being able to get through to staff members by telephone and have their concerns dealt with quickly and efficiently.
The revitalisation of the spring and canal network has had a different, but no less important effect. By repairing canals and providing more reliable sources of irrigation water, JOHUD has helped the Ma’een area to retain its agricultural character. Previously, many farmers had given up their craft or moved away due to the extreme water scarcity in Ma’een; now, farmers are returning in droves and helping to produce more food for Jordanian consumers. The existing and returning farmers not only have more water with which to irrigate, but have more money to spend on farming. Many report losing less money on diesel pumps and equipment to manually fix the canals themselves and now have more capital to invest in efficient farming techniques.
Overall, the changes witnessed in the Ma’een area are both visible and heartening, bringing sustainable benefits to households and businesses throughout the region. With more abundant supplies of humanity’s most precious resource, the area is now free to develop and prosper more effectively than ever before.