Alixandra Buck reports on an Oxfam project in Jordan where the local community is working with local authorities to improve water supplies.
In Jordan, it is not common for government and citizens to talk face to face on issues of common concern. There is also skepticism on the role of civil society.
We’re working to change that dynamic. Oxfam and its local partner Future Pioneers are bringing everyday people together with government actors to improve collaboration around issues of common concern – in this case, water.
Rapid population growth, a mountainous landscape and neglect have frequently left people in the town of Allan, Jordan with insufficient access to water. In this challenging context, providing water to households requires not just infrastructure improvements, but good governance as well.
Through Oxfam’s work with its local partner Future Pioneers, community members in Salt governorate can speak freely with government officials from the Water Authority of Jordan – identifying their water issues, airing their grievances, and working together to improve access and governance in their community.
Coming together to make a change
Through the water group community members, have been able to speak with the local water authority Director. Which in turn has led to extensive improvements to the local water network, valued at over 210,000 USD. Now, leakages in Allan have gone down significantly – and further improvements are expected to reduce losses even more.
This is of particular importance in Jordan, one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Water use far exceeds the replacement rate, and leaks, breakages and interrupted water supply are all too common – pointing to the need for systemic changes to water infrastructure, water governance and water use patterns.
Water authority Director, Majde Algharagher, told Oxfam: “There has been a huge increase in population in Jordan, so there is less water available per person. We are also seeing illegal pumping, which is making water even scarcer.”
According to USAID Over 40% of water in Jordan’s network is lost through leakages and other losses.
Mutual goals and gains
Abir Suleiman Mrooj, a member of the water group, told Oxfam, “The sight of wasted water all over the streets used to hurt us, as we were working so hard to save water in our homes… So at first, we were like a swarm of bees around Mr Algharagher – always pushing until we got a solution to each issue.”
Collaborating with the community has made it easier for the water authority to find and stop water losses. According to Algharagher, “Now that I am in the water group, people can contact me directly by phone. Before they had to come to the office or call the ministry and it would be a long process to speak to me. We also have a Whatsapp group, so they can send me a picture of a broken pipe or any problem, and I can respond. I can immediately send maintenance staff, and they can fix it. The response is easier and faster than before.”
Mrooj told Oxfam: “We housewives were able to achieve something for our community. The Water Authority heard my voice, and through me, the voices of many people in Jordan. We feel so proud that we could impact our community and the government.”
But things are still not perfect: “Now, my water is good. But honestly, other places still struggle.”
This work is part of Oxfam’s AWANE (Addressing Water Needs of Jordan Hosting Communities) project. With the support of Global Affairs Canada, Oxfam is working with community members, partners, and the Government of Jordan to improve water governance. We want to ensure that more people in the country can meet their basic water needs and participate in decision-making at the community and national level.
A special thanks to Asmaa Thekerallah and the AWANE team, whose support made this blog possible.