By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – By the end of this year all the Kingdom’s aquifers will be linked to a system which evaluates the behaviour of underground basins and the quantity of water pumped from them, a government official said on Tuesday.

The country’s three main basins, Amman-Zarqa, Azraq and the Jordan Valley, have been linked to the Water Evaluation and Planning System (WEAP), while the remaining 15 aquifers will be covered by the end of this year, Ministry of Water and Irrigation Secretary General Maysoon Zu’bi said yesterday.

Applying the system will help the ministry obtain timely, reliable and up-to-date information, explore management scenarios and provide decision makers with recommendations, she said at a regional conference, where water experts and officials are discussing the use of the WEAP as a tool for integrated management of water resources and climate change adaptation.

“The Water Evaluation and Planning System model is proving to be an invaluable tool for water resource planning and is providing an important contribution to the revision of the national water master plan,” Zu’bi underscored.

The three-day event, which brings together representatives from 13 Arab and foreign countries, is organised by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in cooperation with the Arab Centre for the Study of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) and the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources.

The Arab world is forecast to witness severe water shortage in the future, Abdullah Droubi, director of ACSAD’s water department, said yesterday, attributing the prediction to low levels of rainfall and recurring drought.

The fact that 65 per cent of the region’s water resources originate from non-Arab states worsens the situation, he said, noting that water sharing and allocations are subject to international laws and prevailing political conditions.

“A solution to the water problem is still unattainable. Over a third of the Arab population … still lack clean water, while over half of the region’s food needs is imported due to water scarcity,” Droubi said.

Water resources in the region are constantly being depleted, which necessitates implementing integrated water management systems among Arab states, according to water experts.

Maximilian Rasch, first secretary at the German embassy and head of the development cooperation section, highlighted that saving water and exploring new non-conventional water resources is vital for generating water in the Arab world.

He noted that applying an efficient water-pricing system, reducing water loss and desalinating Red Sea water are among measures to address Jordan’s acute water shortage.