Throughout the world people migrate to large cities in search of better services like education and water. In Jordan, however, when your city is located in the desert, getting enough water for your daily needs can still be a constant challenge. It’s a bit ironic that Jordan, named after the river that makes its western border with Israel, is one of the driest countries on the planet.

Living conditions are especially hard in Jordan’s second-largest city of Zarqa, just north-west of Amman. Here residents experience all the hassles and discomforts of a limited and antiquated water system. Not all houses have running water; if you are lucky enough to have it, you probably have it for only a day or two in a given week. In the above video, residents talk about their struggles and hopes for Zarqa’s water system.


Precious drinking water is wasted because many municipal pipes, seemingly an afterthought in the urban planning process, often run above-ground and are thus exposed to, and often damaged by, foot and vehicle traffic and harsh elements. Above, children in Zarqa pose near an above ground water pipe (also take a look at 00:37 of the aforementioned video). As seen below, it’s also not uncommon to see (and smell) raw sewage overflowing in Zarqa’s streets.


Mrs. Um Yazan Omran (42, below) is a resident of Zarqa, Jordan who is experiencing water hardships. Her family spends about $10 / week on bottled water, a significant investment for those living in the developing world. “Carrying water jugs is a burden. My husband has already had three hernia operations,” she says. “We’ll be saving all that money that we normally spend on water when the new system is installed.”



Thanks to a massive infrastructure overhaul in Zarqa by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the days of public health hazards and water shortages for residents here are likely to be numbered. Expanding water services to a city of over a million people requires some serious resources, however.


Millennium Challenge Corporation‘s $275 million commitment to the overhaul is no drop in the bucket, and it provides for much more than simply rehabilitating and repairing existing municipal lines. The photograph below shows the expansion of the As Samra waste-water treatment plant. The expansion of the plant will increase its capacity to handle sewage and will produce much needed water for drinking and irrigation for the people in and around Zarqa. Below, a new waste-water line is installed by construction workers in a residential neighborhood in Zarqa.


When water flows, prosperity flows.  Once the rehabilitation of Zarqa’s water network is complete, nearly 3 million Jordanian lives, from city-dwellers to the struggling farmer trying to irrigate his field, will be impacted.