Clean water for Jordan: a stable water supply even in the coronavirus pandemic
Water is an essential resource for life. Food, health, hygiene and industrial production all depend on water - even more so amid the pandemic.
Jordan is one of the most water-deprived countries in the world. Its groundwater level has been falling for a long time, recently at a rate of up to 12 metres per year. The country’s strained water resources have come under additional pressure since the outbreak of COVID-19. With people in Jordan spending most of their time at home, water consumption has risen by 40 per cent. Jordanian water authorities have so far managed to meet this increased demand. Sewage treatment plants are running at full speed. However, the water sector is also suffering in the current situation: restrictions in place due to the pandemic mean that companies are temporarily unable to bill their customers, and customers are not paying their bills. A lack of income is having a negative impact on operations and companies are unable to purchase the spare parts they need.
In Jordan, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is advising the Ministry of Water and Irrigation on sustainable water use. This cooperation has now been expanded in the wake of COVID-19. Working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is supporting the local water utility and waste management firm Yarmouk Water Company in disinfecting treated wastewater from 11 sewage treatment plants. Sewage treatment plant staff are learning how to use disinfectants safely. The goal is to stop the spread of germs through wastewater. More than half of disinfected wastewater is used in agriculture for irrigation purposes, conserving the country’s scarce water resources. Moreover, urgently needed spare parts are being purchased and installed, and systems are being repaired. GIZ is also advising water utilities on how and when they can reopen their customer centres. This is a vital step for them as many customers still pay their bills in cash.
The project is also working with around 7,000 mosques so that they can continue to serve as intermediaries for water conservation and proper hygiene measures once they reopen their doors. Local authorities and mosques are receiving locally sourced hygiene items, such as disinfectants and face masks.
Swift assistance is possible thanks to GIZ’s longstanding partnership with the Jordanian authorities, based on a strong and close working relationship. Building on this, plans are now being developed that will allow the Jordanian water sector to respond to outages with greater flexibility in the future.