How one community in Jordan is raising women's voices - and ensuring clean water is not wasted

With the support of Global Affairs Canada, Oxfam is working with community members, partners, and the Government of Jordan to improve water governance. And now the voices of the community's women are being heard.

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.

Together with the Water Authority of Jordan, a group of people in Salt governorate, Jordan are working to change that.

Abir Suleiman Mrooj, Buthaina Al-Zubi, and Majde Algharagher are three of the twelve men and women who comprise a water community group in the town of Allan, Salt. Now, people of Salt can collaborate freely with government officials, air their grievances, and work together to improve water access and governance in their community.

Majde Algharagher and Buthaina Al-Zubi, working together to save water in Allan, Salt governorate, Jordan. Photo: Alixandra Buck

Majde Algharagher and Buthaina Al-Zubi, working together to save water in Allan, Salt governorate, Jordan. Photo: Alixandra Buck

Rapid population growth, a mountainous landscape and neglect have frequently left people in Allan with insufficient access to water. Community members, including Mrooj and Al-Zubi, highlighted the issues to Algharagher, the Water Authority’s Director of Salt District. In turn he was able to convince the Water Authority to respond with extensive improvements to the local water network, valued at over 150,000 JOD (approximately $210,000 USD). Now, leakages in Allan have been reduced significantly - and further improvements are expected to cut back 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.

Majde Algharagher was quick to recognize the issues: “There has been a huge increase in population in Jordan, so there is less water available per person,” he told Oxfam. “We are also seeing illegal pumping, which is making water even scarcer.”

Majde Algharagher, the Director of Salt District for the Water Authority of Jordan, speaks with community members. Photo: Alixandra Buck/Oxfam

Majde Algharagher, the Director of Salt District for the Water Authority of Jordan, speaks with community members. Photo: Alixandra Buck/Oxfam

Over 40% of water in Jordan’s network is lost through leakages and other losses.

Abir Suleiman Mrooj, of Allan, 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 beehive 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.”

Abir Suleiman Mrooj, a water Ambassador from Salt, Jordan, is a leader in her community. Photo Alixandra Buck/Oxfam

Abir Suleiman Mrooj, a water Ambassador from Salt, Jordan, is a leader in her community. Photo Alixandra Buck/Oxfam

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.”

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.

This entry posted by Alixandra Buck, Communications Advisor, Oxfam in Jordan, on 29 March 2018.

Top photo: A water community group meeting in Allan, Salt governorate, Jordan. Credit: Alixandra Buck/Oxfam

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