by Hana Namrouqa | Jun 09,2012 | 23:12

AMMAN — A set of multimillion-dollar projects to improve water and wastewater services in Zarqa Governorate is on track and will be completed on time and budget, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO Daniel Yohannes said.

Yohannes, whose organisation is funding the project, told The Jordan Times that three million people in Zarqa and Amman would benefit from the ongoing five-year project, while over 19,000 households in Zarqa will be connected to sewage networks once the venture is completed.

“I am very satisfied with where we are today and I’m 100 per cent confident that the project will be done on time and on budget in spite of all difficulties… The project will be able to provide the kind of services that are required and demanded by people in Zarqa,” Yohannes said.

The MCC extended a $275 million grant compact to Jordan in October 2010 to renovate and extend water networks in Zarqa Governorate. The grant, which went into effect in December last year, is managed and implemented by the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Jordan.

Under the MCC grant programme, three integrated projects will be implemented: a $108-million water network project, a $58-million wastewater network project, and the $93-million Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project.

“There are always challenges, especially in construction projects, but we have assembled an outstanding team with experts in water. We have an excellent partnership with the government,” Yohannes highlighted.

Noting that the project is progressing, he added that most of the work will be completed during the next one-year-and-a-half.

“By expanding the wastewater treatment plant, more water for irrigation uses will be provided, which means more water to be used for household needs.”

He also underscored the importance of the Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project, noting that it is a model of public-private partnership that aims at ensuring Jordan a secure water supply.

Asked whether the corporation would provide Jordan with additional aid in the future, the MCC chief said that completing the water and wastewater project in Zarqa is its main focus now.

He noted that the MCC is trying to encourage public-private sector cooperation in its partner countries to invest in areas that need development.

“Ultimately, our model is to encourage countries to replace aid with investment from the private sector, so that aid is no longer needed,” Yohannes explained.

In 2006, the MCC provided Jordan with a $25 million threshold programme to support the government’s efforts in advancing political and economic reforms.

The $25 million grant was allocated in two areas over the course of two years: $16.5 million to support municipal development programmes, and $8.5 million for modernising the customs administration.

“All of our projects, whether threshold programmes or compacts, are all identified by our partner countries… As a result of the $25 million investment, very much improved customs processing resulted: 80 per cent of the processing has improved significantly since the investment in that area,” Yohannes said.

The MCC is an independent US foreign aid agency created by the US Congress in 2004 to promote economic growth and poverty reduction.