Water meter being installed during the laying of new drinking water pipes in the town of Mafraq, Jordan

Core area “Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth” Significant reform awareness in the water sector

Extreme water scarcity is a major development constraint in Jordan. The volume of water available per capita is less than 100 cubic metres per year (whereas it is 1,500 cubic metres in Germany). Advancing climate change, high population growth and economic development are exacerbating the water crisis. The BMZ is assisting Jordan in extracting and using this scarce resource sustainably.

Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. During the summer months, the country is often no longer able to meet domestic demand and has to import water. Currently, groundwater is being withdrawn at more than twice the rate of natural recharge. As a consequence, the water table is dropping nationwide by several metres every year.

High rates of water loss and the use of water for irrigation are major factors that contribute to the overexploitation of groundwater. Agriculture accounts for over 50 per cent of freshwater consumption in Jordan. Illegal water withdrawals continue to be a challenge. On top of this, Jordan's national water management plan is based on the expectation that demand for drinking water will rise significantly as a result of population growth and economic development. According to current estimates, Jordan's water utilities will only be able to meet about 60 per cent of the demand expected for the period up to 2040.

The government has realised that there is a need for extensive reforms. In the first half of 2023, a new water strategy was launched. With international support, Jordan is investing increasingly in reducing the high rates of water loss. In addition, the government is planning to build a large seawater desalination plant on the Gulf of Aqaba. Negotiations with Israel are under way on swapping additional drinking water from Israel for green power from Jordanian solar energy.

German activities

Wastewater treatment plant in Madaba

Wastewater treatment plant in Madaba

Wastewater treatment plant in Madaba

Through its development cooperation, Germany is supporting Jordan's efforts for sustainable water management, especially with regard to reducing water loss and water consumption and protecting groundwater. The BMZ is also contributing funding to the construction of the envisaged seawater desalination plant, and support is being provided for the use of treated wastewater in agriculture. To that end, wastewater treatment plants are being built and household connection rates are being increased. The use of energy-efficient pumps is helping to reduce costs and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

With support from Germany, Jordan has been able to increase the volume of treated wastewater for agricultural use by an annual 6.5 million cubic metres over the last few years. In addition, water and sanitation systems have been set up, especially in northern Jordan, giving hundreds of thousands of refugees access to drinking water and sanitation.

As at: 26/10/2023