Nov 19,2019

AMMAN — Water Minister Raed Abul Saud on Tuesday received a high-level NATO delegation representing members of the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East Special Group for a meeting that focused on Jordan’s water woes and the main challenges facing the sector.

During the meeting, the minister expressed the Kingdom’s appreciation for the support of NATO and EU countries, and the US, among others, in their capacity as donors and “effective partners” to the Kingdom’s water sector, which currently faces “extraordinary and unusual” circumstances due to the shortage caused by influxes of Syrian refugees, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

According to Abul Saud, the ministry has “nearly exhausted” all options pertaining to the development of local drinking water sources, expressing his hope for greater support to establish projects that would ensure the provision of renewable and permanent water sources.

The minister noted that the volume of demand on water has reached “record-levels”.

The increasing rate of population growth, exacerbated by the waves of refugees that have entered the Kingdom, has spurred the levels of demand for water by around 40 per cent in some areas, in addition to imposing pressure on various elements of the infrastructure, Abul Saud said.

These factors have forced the water sector to set the water provision formula to once a week for a maximum of eight hours, manage resources more efficiently and expand on the use of untraditional water sources, the minister said.

Abul Saud highlighted that the Water Ministry is moving forward with the proposal for the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project, which would provide a renewable source of water through a process of Red-Sea water desalination, adding that the implementation of a national conveyor system before the end of the year will help meet the increasing demand.

The minister also briefed the delegation on the ministry’s plans and programmes extending to the year 2025 to find solutions to the water crisis, boost operational capacity, reduce wastage, increase the spatial capacity of dams by harvesting more than 85 per cent of rainwater, control costs and adopt “realistic policies” to address climate change.

The minister reaffirmed Jordan’s adherence to the recommendations of the Paris meetings, while also expanding renewable energy programmes to protect the environment.

Water Ministry Secretary General Ali Suboh underlined the gravity of the water sector’s burden, noting that the Kingdom has only received 24 per cent of the aid pledged as part of the Jordanian response plan to the refugee crisis.

For his part, Jordan Valley Authority Secretary General Ali Kouz presented the mechanisms adopted to implement agreements signed with neighbouring countries to increase the storage capacity of dams to 400 million cubic metres by 2025.

Head of the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East Special Group expressed NATO’s appreciation for Jordan and His Majesty King Abdullah’s role towards the international community in general and the Syrian refugees, in particular, voicing NATO’s interest in expanding cooperation with Jordan and offering “modern” water management solutions.

Members of the group lauded the Water Ministry’s achievements in handling the situation in Jordan and finding “innovative solutions” in relevant fields.

Jordan is ranked the second water-poorest country in the world, where water per capita is 88 per cent below the international water poverty line of 1,000 cubic metres annually, according to authorities.