EBRD funnels funds to Jordan to boost availability of quality water

By Nibal Zgheib

The EBRD, as Implementing Support Agency, along with the Jordanian government, will manage technical cooperation funds to help the country improve the quality and reliability of water provision to Jordan.  This will also prepare the way for involvement by the private sector in the overall management of water services in the country.

Jordan has particularly low levels of water resource availability and water scarcity is a major problem.

This US$ 1.5 million grant is the first allocation approved by the Steering Committee of the Transition Fund managed under the Deauville Partnership, which was set up in October 2012 as part of the international community’s response to support economic development in emerging Arab democracies.

The aims of the funding are to increase monitoring and awareness of both water quantity and quality issues, to improve the regulatory framework for better water provision, which includes moving to cost-recovery, and also to pass on lessons from Romania’s water sector, which has successfully dealt with similar challenges in the past.

Specific projects financed from the technical cooperation funds include the establishment of a Unit of Excellence for the Water Authority in Jordan.  This authority will be responsible for assisting in designing public-private partnerships; as well as proactively engaging with the private sector to identify opportunities for future energy efficiency projects in the water sector. .

Water companies in Romania once faced similar problems to the authorities in Jordan but have now developed what are viewed as best practices in the municipal water and wastewater sector. This financing will provide the opportunity for Romania to pass on the positive lessons it has learnt to Jordan.

This last step is in the context of the EBRD’s Transition 2 Transition Initiative, where experts and officials from transition countries in central and eastern Europe share experiences with their counterparts in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. Building on this exchange, the funds will be also used to share knowledge gained through the Arab Countries Water Utilities Associations (ACWUA).

This financing is also a prelude to an investment the EBRD is considering for Jordan’s Yarmouk Water Company. This company serves over 1.4 million people living in four governorates in the north of the country. A feasibility study funded by the EBRD SEMED Multi Donor Account is currently underway.

The Deauville Transition Fund has 10 donors: Canada, France, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.