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Jordan struggles to cope with severe water scarcity

(Al Mojeb) dam
(Al Mojeb) dam

Report by Mahmoud Bou-Shehri

AMMAN, Dec 20 (KUNA) -- Jordan has been struggling with drastic water scarcity since years ago, suffering from a shortage of 500 million cubic meter per year.
Jordan's per capita share of water is in the range of only 80 cm a year, compared to the global definition of "water poverty" where the per capita share is at 500 cm per annum.
The water scarcity in Jordan is largely attributed to population growth in a nation currently inhabited by 11 million people, in addition to climatic change impact on the local environment namely water resources.
Moreover, excessive consumption has also increased due to presence of some 1,300 Syrian refugees.
Omar Salama, official spokesperson of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, has acknowledged that the above mentioned reasons caused the severe water shortage, also noting that the kingdom has not ben witnessing sufficient rainfalls.
Annual rainfalls have not exceeded 60 percent of the satisfactory annual level and the water dams have been holding water by only 50 percent of their capacities, Salama said. Last summer in particular, drinking water supplies dropped by 4.5 million cm, he pointed out.
Jordan depends on wells, Al-Yarmouk River, King Abdullah Canal, dams, a desalination plant and some springs. Treated waste water is used for watering trees, cultivated fields and fodder plantations.
Salama has said that the nation needs up to 1.5 billion cm of water a year, however only one billion cm per annum have been secured.
The available water per capita in Jordan is in the range of 80 cm per year, in contrast to the average 1,000 cm per capita at the global level.
Jordan is one of a countable number of countries where government-supplied water reaches houses only once a week, Salama said.
In the face of the bleak picture of this vital sector, the government has worked out a strategy designed to minimize impact of the water crisis, envisaging key projects to cut waste, construction of more dams in addition to the existing 11 dams and 411 ones in the desert.
The government is also seeking to execute a mega project for water desalination in the Red Sea city of Al-Aqaba, with plans to transport water to locations as far as 400 kms away. This venture is designed to secure some 300 cm of water a year.
Salama praised Kuwait's aid for Jordan to help it cope with the water shortage, underscoring contributions by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development for construction of Al-Mujeb Dam to secure water for the southern province of Al-Karak. (end) mjb.rk