First EBRD project in response to refugee crisis

By Nibal Zgheib

A refugee in Jordan carrying water - EBRD

US$ 14 million loan to upgrade strained wastewater infrastructure in Jordan

To ease the pressure caused by the refugee crisis in the Middle East, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a loan of up to US$ 14 million to the Water Authority of Jordan (WAJ) to carry out an urgently needed upgrade of the sewerage network.

An estimated 1.4 million people from Syria have fled to Jordan, mainly to the north of the country. This equals almost 20 per cent of Jordan’s total population.

This significant inflow puts a serious burden on the country’s resources and infrastructure.

The supply of clean water and the treatment of wastewater are essential. Water is life, but in Jordan it is a scarce resource.

In addition, the ageing infrastructure means serious water losses, especially in densely populated areas, where the majority of refugees are temporarily housed.

The EBRD has addressed this issue in the past with investments in the country’s water infrastructure. The new project will enable WAJ to construct a wastewater pipeline from East Zarqa pumping station to As-Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Rehabilitating and upgrading the existing wastewater pipeline and related infrastructure will increase the network’s capacity to cope with the additional burden it now carries. It will also alleviate the risk of ground and surface water pollution in the Zarqa River area.

Dr Heike Harmgart, EBRD Head of Office in Jordan, said: “The refugee crisis is one of the biggest international challenges at the moment and the EBRD is proud to make a contribution to alleviate the difficult situation.

"Our investment will address the question of water, a key issue for Jordan at any time and even more pressing under the current circumstances.

"The investments financed with our loan will contribute to a tangible improvement in wastewater treatment.”

The loan is co-financed by an investment grant of US$ 5.5 million from the Bank’s Shareholder Special Fund (SSF).

The EU Neighbourhood Investment Facility funded technical cooperation activities and environmental assessments and will support the implementation of environmental and social procedures as well as health and safety standards.

Jordan became an EBRD shareholder in 2012 and to date the Bank has committed US$ 475 million across 25 projects in various sectors of the economy, in addition to US$ 95 million of trade facilitation credit lines with local banks.

Through the EBRD’s Small Business Support the Bank has also initiated 100 technical assistance capacity-building projects that directly benefit the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises.