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Community water saving project to receive cash influx amid huge demand

AMMAN — A grass-roots project that helps communities adapt to water scarcity while preserving natural resources is set to receive an additional JD1.5 million in funding by July, experts involved in the project said.

Under the Community-Based Initiatives for Water Demand Management Project (CBIWDM), societies across the Kingdom will receive grants from USAID and Mercy Corps, then extend them to citizens as revolving loans to implement water efficiency projects.

The project, implemented by Mercy Corps in cooperation with the Jordan River Foundation and the Royal Scientific Society, was launched in 2006 and concludes next year.

"People are interested in the idea... Societies are not keeping up with requests for revolving loans to implement water projects and there is a waiting list for the coming 10 years," Setta Tutundjian, project management specialist in water resources and environment at USAID, said during a meeting held on Wednesday to review the project's achievements.

Tutundjian highlighted that efforts are under way to secure extra funding for the project in order to meet the rising demand for loans, expecting the funds to be secured by July.

Meanwhile, CBIWDM Project Director Rania Zu'bi reviewed the achievements of the project, noting that it is implemented under three phases which entail revolving loans and capacity-building programmes for 135 societies, communal grants for 30 societies, and integrated water and energy resources management initiatives at the community level.

The revolving loans have thus far benefitted 28,000 people, while 74 projects have been implemented at the community level, including 31 in schools, 18 in mosques and 25 in water springs, according to a statement issued by Mercy Corps.

The projects included rainwater harvesting, maintenance of ancient wells, maintenance of residential networks, installation of drip irrigation systems, maintenance of irrigation channels and water springs, and the reuse of grey water, as well as other water saving and efficiency projects.

"Half of the loans went to building wells for harvesting rainwater from rooftops, while more than 30 per cent went to carrying out maintenance on households' worn-out water pipes," Ministry of Water and Irrigation Secretary General Maysoon Zu'bi said.

She noted that many loans also were taken to implement drip irrigation systems on small farms to improve the efficiency of water use, noting that only 2 per cent of loans were used for grey water treatment projects.

"It is well known that Jordan suffers from an acute water shortage. The water situation is difficult and will become harder in the future, when costly water mega-ventures will be implemented," Zu'bi said on Wednesday.

Given the limited water resources, it is vital to improve the efficiency of water use at the household level and give people the right tools to reduce water consumption, the ministry official stressed.


THE JORDAN TIMES - 24, May 2012