AMMAN: Jordan signed a soft loan deal with European financial institutions to help finance a massive $2.5 billion water carrier project as climate change exacerbates persistent shortages.
The government has agreed a $213 million loan with the European Investment Bank. This will cover a total of $352 million in national contributions to the National Water Transportation Project (Aqaba-Amman Water Desalination and Transportation Project).
The EIB loan is consistent with reports that Israel intends to supply desalinated water to the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
An Israeli radio station recently said the country’s water authority and Mekorot will begin pumping desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea alongside groundwater into Lake Tiberias through a newly installed pipeline.
The report quotes an official as saying, “Israel will be able to solve its water problems over the next 30 years, including by providing this resource to Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.”
A Jordanian official said the kingdom “has not officially received anything from Israel about it.”
The source, who requested anonymity, said: “Israel normally pumps water from Lake Tiberias into Jordan under peace agreements and there is nothing special about it. It’s probably the first time I’ve sent one.”
Dubbed the “largest infrastructure project” in Jordan’s history, the National Water Transport Project will desalinate about 300 million cubic meters of water annually from the Red Sea port city of Aqaba to the densely populated capital of Amman and other cities in the north. provide water. .
Amman is said to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The population is growing rapidly due to the influx of refugees from neighboring countries hit by the crisis.
According to official statistics, Amman’s population has grown from 200,000 to 4 million over the past 50 years due to an influx of refugees from Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria between 1948 and 2013.
With approximately 750,000 refugees of 57 different nationalities, Jordan remains the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country per capita, according to UNHCR.
However, according to official figures, about 1.3 million Syrian refugees live in resource-poor Jordan, most of them outside refugee camps.
“Due to the dramatic rise in population growth and the impact of the refugee crisis, Jordan’s water problem has worsened, falling below the water poverty line,” the government said.
According to official estimates, Jordan’s annual water resources are around 90 cubic meters per person, well below the international standard of 500 cubic meters per person.
Jordan said the national water transportation project would be based on a “build-operate-transfer system” and would be ready by 2027.
According to the Ministry of Water, the project will consist of a seawater intake system, a desalination plant on the south coast of Aqaba, pumping stations and tanks, and 450km of pipelines.
Jordan is classified as the second water scarce country in the world. According to official statistics, Jordan’s total population in 2021 was estimated at her 11.1 million, with an increase of 1.23% he.
Last October, Jordan announced that it had purchased an additional 50 million cubic meters of water from Israel outside the framework of the 1994 peace agreement and the amount of water it stipulated.
Under the Wadi Araba Peace Treaty of 1994, Israel pledged to provide Jordan with 55 million cubic meters of water annually.
Last November, Jordan, Israel and the UAE signed a declaration of intent to begin deliberations on the feasibility of water-powered projects.
The Jordanian government, which faced domestic criticism from parliament, political parties and other civil society groups for signing the contract, said the country would receive 200 million cubic meters of water annually under the project.
International media are reporting that a large solar energy farm will be built in the Jordanian desert as part of a project to generate clean energy that will be sold to Israel in exchange for desalinated water.
The EIB loan fell within commitments of European lenders at a donor conference in March this year, with a total of $1.83 billion pledged in grants and loans, according to a government statement.