By Mohammad Ghazal

FUHEIS – Work is on track on a Japanese-funded project that is expected to “significantly” reduce the percentage of non-revenue water in the Kingdom, according to a water official.

The JD3.5 million project, financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will be completed by August 2011 and enhance water authorities’ capacities in reducing water loss, which stood at 42 per cent by the end of 2010, according to Walid Sukkar, adviser to the minister of water and irrigation.

“Reducing non-revenue water percentage is strategic to Jordan, where the water sector faces many challenges. Reducing this percentage will eventually lead to an increase in the per capita share of water,” he said during a meeting this week as part of a tour organised by JICA to several projects implemented by the agency.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is planning to reduce water loss to 28.5 per cent by 2020 and 19.2 per cent by 2035, Sukkar noted, adding that about 102 million cubic metres of water will be saved by 2035.

According to ministry figures, the highest rate of water loss in 2010 was registered in Karak at 58.9 per cent, followed by Mafraq with 57.4 per cent, Maan with 55.1 per cent, Tafileh with 49.9 per cent, and Zarqa and Balqa with 49.8 per cent each. The lowest percentage was registered in Aqaba at 22.9 per cent.

Under the project, JICA is assisting water authorities across the Kingdom to install equipment to reduce water pressure, which leads to leakages and burst pipes.

Water networks in several areas of the country have excessive water pressure due to the hilly, terrain and improper use of pumps, among other reasons, according to JICA experts.

Sukkar attributed water loss to faulty water meters, theft, leakage from networks that need maintenance, and the improper installation of domestic water connections.

Under the project, Japanese experts trained local water officials, who in turn will train contractors on how best to install household water connections.

Sukkar noted that only these contractors will be allowed to install domestic connections upon completion of the project.

The project also entails raising public awareness on how to rationalise the use of water by holding campaigns in schools, mosques and women’s societies.

During the tour, which covered several health, water, tourism and community empowerment projects, JICA officials stressed their country’s commitment to assist the Kingdom in different fields.

Japan’s assistance to the Kingdom from the late 1970s until the end of 2009 stands at about $3.6 billion including loans, grants and technical cooperation, according to figures released by the JICA Jordan office.

On Wednesday, the Japanese government decided to extend an $89 million grant to the community-based rehabilitation centre in Marka to support children with disabilities in the refugee camp.