Let him work, for time is against us

Salameh daraawi
Salameh Darawi (Photo: Jordan News)
As soon as the minister of water announced that the Kingdom will have a harsh summer attempting to secure its water needs, he was met with striking critique and accusations of stirring up public sentiment.اضافة اعلان

Adding insult to injury, an interview resurfaced from two years ago in which the now minister and then senator revealed that a powerful five-person network had been infringing upon the water network and had been referred to the judicial authorities. This interview was dug up to take the minister’s most recent statements out of context.

Thank you to the minister who rung the alarm bells on Jordan’s water shortage, uncovering in the process, the shortcomings of previous governments in securing the Kingdom’s water needs.

Thank you to the minister for also standing against those who violate the water network and wells using illegal means.

But what has led us to this difficult stage and who is responsible?

Everyone knows that Jordan has been relying on underground resources to secure drinking water for decades, and since these are natural resources, it is expected that the annual per capita share would decrease due to population growth and forced, and unplanned migration.

In 1985, the government began utilizing surface water resources by treating the water in the King Abdullah Canal, at the expense of the agricultural share of the Jordan Valley. This was followed by the desalination of 60 cubic meters of water per year and the siphoning off of underground water, considering that its 12 tanks faced the threat of running dry. Therefore, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation opted for non-renewable underground tanks at the bottom of Disi in 2010. And as soon as the project began pumping water in early 2013, some 1.5 million refugees fled to the Kingdom.

Since then, water officials have not attempted to plan for the only sustainable alternative, which is desalinating Red Sea water. Rather, they have continued to dig wells and tried to manage crises only as they came up.

Only now are real steps being taken to desalinate 300 million cubic meters per year, which cover 70 percent of the quantity currently being consumed.

Over the past years, the water sector has suffered from poor administration and slacking, as no real efforts went into addressing water loss. What exacerbated the situation was the lack of financial resources and high cost of delivering water, particularly electricity costs. This was followed by the spread of financial and administration corruption, and the absence of planning for coming years in terms of water quantities, increasing the efficiency of facilities and securing sustainable resources.

Among the causes of administrative weakness is what previous governments have done in terms of letting employees go under the pretext that they have reached the age of early retirement, which stripped the public sector of its front and second-line workers, leaving matters in the hands of the inexperienced, which in turn disrupted projects, disoriented priorities, and caused sloth that led to a loss of control over the water file.

Things are gradually changing, the ministry is setting plans and priorities for projects, which would set the course towards stability, should things flow smoothly.

The sector needs support through the implementation of laws and the provision of human competencies, and funds to secure a safe and comfortable future. Therefore, let the water minister work on the basis of a clear plan and vision to salvage what is possible and expedite the achievement of what previous governments could not. Time is not on our side, we need both speed and courage to make fateful decisions.

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