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Hussam Hussein
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Hi and thanks for visiting my profile :) My name is Hussam, I'm a blogger-researcher-journalist, member of the European Youth Press’ Middle East and North Africa Committee (MENAC). I studied in Italy (Trieste/Gorizia), England (SOAS, London), and Poland (College of Europe). Academically, my background is mainly in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a focus on Environment. My interests are climate change, water, development and international cooperation.


No water in Jordan? Let’s reduce its demand!

Published 25th March 2010 - 4 comments - 5057 views -

In Jordan, the water demand exceeds the available renewable water resources which have been overexploited to bridge the gap. The adoption of a new strategy for water planning is crucial because this situation can not be maintained without endangering sustainable development. For this reason, a National Water Master Plan has been developed for Jordan in 2004 while a National Water Strategy was developed and approved in 1997. A Water Demand Management Unit (WDMU) was established at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation by the end of 2002 to undertake the responsibility of Water Demand Management Programs for all sectors in Jordan. The plan examined the water resources in the country and its management issues, as well as institutional and regulatory issues.

This concise paper will analyse Jordan’s current responses to the ongoing water crisis and identify possible opportunities to improve domestic demand management.


 “All water resources within the boundaries of the Kingdom, whether they are surface or groundwater, river or internal seas, are considered to be state-owned property and shall not be used or transported except in compliance with law”.  Three generally independent, but organizationally related, public agencies are responsible for management of Jordan’s water sector.  The Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) established in 1992 has as main responsibilities: water resources policy and strategy development, water resources planning, research and development, information systems, and procuring financial resources.  The Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) established in 1988 is responsible for water and sewerage services throughout Jordan and for water resources management.  The Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) established in 1988 is responsible for development of the Jordan Rift Valley including water resources, primarily for agriculture in the Jordan River Valley.  JVA also manages all dams/reservoirs in Jordan.

 Education and public awareness campaigns

The level of water awareness among the public in the Middle East and North African countries is not consistent. However, in Jordan awareness is judged to be high.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation through the Water Demand Management Unit supports initiatives to increase awareness of water issues in the country. A major part of those activities were implemented under a five year program known as Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action Program (WEPIA). A second program has started with the title Instituting Water Demand Management in Jordan (IDARA). This nationwide program is focusing on instituting sustainable water demand management by helping to establish the required institutional and regulatory framework in the country.

Under the WEPIA project, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and the Ministry of Education pioneered the process of bringing critical water issues to the center of public discourse in Jordan. It was a five-year program, started in 2000, that sought the creation of a water conservation ethic in the general population of Jordan, implemented water-saving technologies to achieve significant savings, and institutionalized the processes it used. WEPIA sought to improve the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours of Jordanians regarding water issues. This project included: NGO capacity building, community grants, water audits and building retrofits, media campaigns, and training workshops. Thanks to this programme and to the collaboration with the Ministry of Education, interactive water education programs are today widely available and accessible to teachers, students in public and private schools, religious leaders, and NGOs. As part of the educational strategy, interactive water conservation curriculum have been integrated into school textbooks grades 1–11 in five subject areas since December 2002. An interactive CD for Children on Water Demand Management concepts, to support school curriculum concepts has been developed. Furthermore, steps have been taken to establish a master’s degree program in Water Demand Management at Jordan University for Science and Technology in Irbid. This master program is a pioneering program that includes a series of highly specialized courses in Water Demand Management such as Best Management Practices, Demand Forecasting and Analysis, Strategic Planning for Water Demand Management; Planning Urban Demand Management Programs, Alternative Water Supply; and Water Demand Management in Agriculture. This program is designed to create a pool of specialized professionals to institutionalize domestic demand management. As part of the WEPIA program, more than 50% of religious leaders received training and materials on water issues and conservation techniques.

Furthermore, WEPIA conducted a widespread media campaign to disseminate its message through television, radio, newspaper and magazines, to explain the water situation and how to participate in efforts in conserving water or using water more efficiently. Within each theme, issues such as scarce water resources, sector consumption of water, misuse of groundwater, water-saving devices, water cost, and importance of water to industry were included.

Another relevant project in this field in the recent past is the Awareness Project in Water (APW), implemented since 1994 by the Jordan Environment Society in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and USAID for about five years. Over 5,000 people throughout the Kingdom in different targets have attended workshops, lectures, seminars and special events to learn about water conservation and discuss local needs. The aims of the APW was: the creation of general awareness through mass media campaigns and development of local human resources by training selected leaders from voluntary organizations.

The role of the NGOs is also very important in the effort to raise public awareness over water issues in Jordan. Some of these projects are launched with the cooperation or input of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. However, the majority are implemented fairly unilaterally from NGOs or international organizations such as the United Nations. Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) - EcoPeace, the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature, are just a few examples of groups who work in Jordan to promote awareness over water issues through many different ways such as: eco-tourism, activities in schools, technical training courses, recreational community events, various forms of media and instructional pilot projects.

However, probably more could be done. For examples, Existing public awareness campaigns could be adapted to include more specific information on Jordanian water conservation success stories. Along with the general water awareness themes, existing public campaigns could examine recent customer success in saving water.


 In Jordan the Ministry of Water and Irrigation is committed to set municipal water and wastewater tariffs. The Ministry of water and irrigation calls for an escalating block water tariff for household consumption, which sanctions heavy consumers and cross-subsidizes the poorer segments of society. A Tariff structure that promotes water conservation: water tariff is used as an economic instrument to set an incentive for water conservation. In this tariff structure, the price per

unit of water increases continuously as the total amount of water used. This structure sends a signal to the consumer that increased water use results in an increased water bill.

The Water Strategy clearly state that Jordan should move towards full cost recovery taking into consideration the affordability of water. Prices in urban areas are frequently higher than in rural areas; and small industries, tourism and administration always pay a higher tariff than regular households. Irrigation water charges, as far as information is available, have only symbolic value.

Consumption (in m3)

Value without sanitary (in Jd/ m3)

Value including sanitary (in Jd/ m3)



































The table 1 clearly shows that the water tariff in Jordan sanctions heavily on water consumers.

Water restrictions

According to the water strategy of the Jordanian ministry of water and irrigation, water rationing with each house getting water once or twice a week for some hours, depending on the area, is a possible solution to the current shortage in the country.

In addition, existing laws shall be amended to clearly prohibit illegal use of water including procedures for disconnection and other appropriate penalties.

According to the Jordanian Water Strategy, regulations shall be implemented and enforced to prohibit water resources from being wasted in Jordan. Below is a list of some of the practices that result in the waste of water:

·         Car washing with hoses,

·         Ornamental ponds,

·         Water features without re-circulating pumps or timers,

·         Washing of sidewalks, driveways, and streets,

·         Dripping faucets and other plumbing leaks, and

·         Storage tanks that leak or overflow due to poor maintenance, and

·         Single pass cooling.

Specially in West Amman, many Egyptian domestic helpers wash every day cars wasting a large amount of water. Probably, this is also due to a lack of education and awareness over water issue because in Egypt there is not scarcity of water resources.


 However, at the moment there are no laws that prohibit and punish these kind of water uses.

Water-wise building design

In the last years in Jordan, rapid population growth has necessitated the prompt expansion of social and economic infrastructures such as pipelines. According to Ibrahim Abu Shams from the Jordan Ministry of Water and Irrigation the financial loss arising from water pumped to the houses through the networks exceeds 50%. For this reason for the water authority of Jordan as well as for many international organizations working for the development of Jordan making the need to restructure and rehabilitate the network is a top priority. Many projects and studies have been done and are still been doing aiming to reduce leaks and improving services. For example, USAID in collaboration with the Delegation of the European Commission in Jordan and with the Embassy of Italy have supported the Greater Amman Supply and Sewerage Project. This project will improve the water supply and sewerage services in The Greater Amman area. It will include: extension and rehabilitation of about 100 km of water mains; construction of about 350 km of trunk and collection sewers; and construction of two sewage treatment works. The Greater Amman Water Supply and Sewerage Project will further involve supply of operating and maintenance equipment; and consultant services for engineering, project management and construction supervision. It will also continue the institutional development efforts started under two previous Bank loans. The main beneficiaries of the project will be the low and middle-income families in the project area.

Other than the many restructuring and rehabilitation projects, there are not water-wise building design projects such as waterless or dry-toilets. It could be thought that one of the main obstacles for such toilets could be a cultural reason. However, that could be sort out with a good and strong cultural and educational campaign on the importance of such water-less toilets.


Category: Environment | Tags:


  • Tiziana Cauli on 25th March 2010:

    Very interesting article Hussam, thanks for posting it. I read about some desalination projects involving the entire Dead-Sea region, including Israel and the West Bank. Hope cooperation will lead to some positive results, at least in this.

  • Hussam Hussein on 25th March 2010:

    Ciao Tiziana! Thanks, I hope you liked it! Actually yes, I researched also on desalinization. As you said, Israel has developed this alternative, as well as some Gulf countries. However, it is a very expensive solution that poorer countries such as Jordan cannot apply… :( I will write something about it in the next days! smile

  • Hussam Hussein on 27th July 2010:

    Just updated! smile Hope you’ll like it smile

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