By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Construction work on the JD22 million Kufranjah Dam in Ajloun Governorate will start next month to store rainwater for drinking purposes, a government official said on Tuesday.

Two agreements will be signed on Thursday with international and local companies for the implementation of the project and supervision of its construction, Jordan Valley Authority Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour said yesterday.

“An agreement worth JD20 million will be signed tomorrow for the construction of the project, as well as another JD2.2 million agreement for supervising the project’s construction,” he told The Jordan Times.

Noting that the Kufranjah Dam is funded by the state treasury, Abu Hammour added that it will be completed within three years.

Designed to store six million cubic metres (mcm) of water, the dam seeks to prevent drinking water from being used to irrigate trees and crops in the northern region, where water per capita is the lowest in the country, according to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

Dams, though expensive to build, are vital for the Kingdom to secure its water needs, according to experts.

The Kingdom’s 10 major dams are: the King Talal, Wadi Al Arab, Sharhabil, Kafrein, Wadi Shuaib, Karameh, Tannour, Waleh, Mujib and Wihdeh.

They currently hold 64 per cent of their total capacity of 215.44mcm, excluding the 110mcm Wihdeh Dam, where water storage is currently experimental. The dam now holds 15.5mcm of its total capacity.

Jordan, which is considered the world’s fourth water poorest country, suffers an annual water deficit of 500mcm and per capita share of water does not exceed 150 cubic metres per year, well below the water poverty line of 500 cubic metres per year.

According to official figures, 91 per cent of Jordan’s total area of 97,000 square kilometres is arid land with an annual rainfall average of 50-200 millimetres (mm), while 2.9 per cent is categorised as semi-arid with an annual rainfall average of 400-580mm.