October 17, 2015 HealthSociety

Implementing Water Supply Projects for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

The ongoing Syrian civil war has forced millions of Syrian families to seek refuge in neighbouring countries and elsewhere. Since conflict broke out in 2011, Jordan has registered approximately 630.000 Syrian refugees, although an estimated 1.4 million Syrians are now residing in Jordan, and, as the conflict escalates, this number is only expected to grow. This vast increase in people  seeking safety has further deteriorated the condition of water and wastewater services in Jordan, particularly in northern governorates, which already suffer from limited water resources and high non-revenue water.

How does an already water-stressed country deal with the pressure on water resources of a sudden, expected increase in population? How can we improve water sector services, while planning sustainably for a water secure future?

Water scarcity has always been a topic of concern in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, one of the driest countries in the world. Rapid population growth has reduced the amount of fresh water available to the average Jordanian to about 129 cubic meters per year – 6 times less than the global average consumption and far below the minimum water per capita amount recommended by the UN, of 500 cubic meters per year.

With less than 200 mm of annual precipitation, the renewable water supply – the water that is replenished by rain fall – is insufficient to meet the water needs of the entire population, and groundwater depletion is an ever more present woe since the arrival of Syrian refugees. As a result of these water constraints, water supply in the capital city, Amman, is restricted to two days a week on average.

While some Syrian refugees stay at refugee camps near the northern border, about two thirds of those who have entered Jordan are residing in areas in the northern part of the country – the governorates of Irbid, Mafraq, Jerash and Ajloun are hosting large numbers of those fleeing violence and fear of death. This sudden increase of population is putting an increased pressure on limited water resources, and, in some areas, friction has arisen between Syrian refugees and Jordanians.

To address this situation, the Government of Jordan formulated the Jordan Response Plan 2015, a national plan that provides a comprehensive response for addressing the Syrian refugee crisis by bringing together humanitarian and resilience responses as mutually reinforcing aspects of a cross-sectoral approach.

Parallel to the formulation of the Jordan Response Plan, the Government of Japan/JICA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Water & Irrigation (MoWI) and the Water Authority Jordan (WAJ), conducted a comprehensive study in the host communities to assess the effects of the inflow of Syrian refugees into the four northern governorates on the water supply and sewerage services. This evaluation allowed us to set out the priorities to mitigate the deterioration of water supply services and sewerage system, and identify improvement actions.

The Government of Japan/JICA also started a construction project to install and rehabilitate distribution pipelines in Irbid, which was considered as a high priority project. Upon the completion of the project in 2016, water supply is estimated to increase up to twice a week as the supply volume doubles, the per capita water supply volume will increase, and the non-revenue water will decrease with the setting of distribution zones and regulation of distribution pressure.

Moreover, the project will contribute to improving the living environment of residents and harmonise relations between Syrian refugees and their host communities. Approximately half a million people within the host communities in which Syrian refugees and Jordanians cohabit will benefit from this project.

Date: Monday 19 October, 16:00 – 17:20

Venue: Wadi Rum Hall 1

In the workshop Water Sector Projects for Post-Conflict Development, JICA and MoWI/WAJ will discuss the lessons learnt from our experience implementing water supply projects in post-conflict and refugee hosting countries, such as Jordan, Cambodia and Sudan. This will focus on how to harmonise humanitarian aid and development aid, the importance of factoring in planning and financing strategies, as well as political and social considerations when designing and implementing water supply projects in refugee hosting countries.

Shokichi Sakata

Chief Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Jordan Office