Water Market System in Balqa, Zarqa, & Informal Settlements of Amman & the Jordan Valley

by Thomas Wildman, originally published on March 2013


As the Syrian conflict enters its third year, the influx of refugees into neighboring countries continues to rise exponentially. In Jordan there are currently over 540,000 refugees, 75% of whom are residing in host communities dispersed across the country. Of these, most are in rented accommodation, whereas some are in informal tented settlements. Both groups face significant challenges in meeting their needs due to limited income and high costs. The refugee influx is placing increasing pressure on service provision and infrastructure, including the already-strained water supply system, and contributing to problems like skin infections and increased tensions with host communities.

This EMMA assessment was planned and designed to inform an ECHO-funded project, Humanitarian Response and Assistance for People Affected by the Syrian Crisis, by analyzing water access and the water market in the pre- and post-crisis contexts, as well as during the winter and summer months in the current year.

The piped water network is the preferred option for bulk water for people living in Balqa and Zarqa. However, a lack of continuous 24 hour water supply through this system requires people to either store water or supplement their water needs through private water vendors. Drinking water is available for purchase at local shops that filter and bottle water and from private trucks (supplied from private commercial wells) at a rate that is 20-46 times higher than that of the piped network. Those with less capacity to store water, as well as those who live in areas that receive less frequent delivery of water through the pipe network, pay significantly more for water on a per capita basis. Demand for water is greatest in the summer and least in the winter. Meanwhile, those who live and work in informal settlements obtain some of their water from on-site wells or storage ponds, though most of this is low quality. The remainder of their water needs is purchased from private water trucks.

While water is available to meet the minimum needs of the targeted population, people’s access to water (particularly from May to September) depends primarily upon their purchasing power, geographic location, and water storage capacity. However, poor and very poor households struggle to access sufficient water because of their lack of purchasing power.

This report recommends supporting drinking water access through water vouchers linked to local water vendors and transporters, the provision of water filters at household level and increased water storage capacity for households as well as campaigns to promote water conservation and public health.



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