A Growing Water and Energy Crisis in Jordan
Jordan is burdened by an extreme scarcity of water and the challenges related to this have been aggravated by an influx of refugees since the year 2013. The total number of registered and unregistered Syrian refugees is estimated to be around 1.3 million. The majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan, about 84%, live in urban areas and it’s highly likely that the majority will remain in Jordan. The Syrian refugees were, and still are, highly vulnerable and they continue to struggle - especially with: high housing rental prices; sourcing income-generating activities; overcrowding of public sector services such as education and health; and competition over resources, such as water.
The tense water situation in Jordan was already apparent long before the influx of Syrian refugees. The population growth due to refugees from Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as droughts, trans-boundary tensions over water resources, water mismanagement and an inefficient agricultural sector, have all been identified as the main issues affecting the water sector (Hussein et al., 2020).
Today, however, the effects are even more apparent than ever before. In particular, the Northern Governorates Irbid and Mafraq have been affected by the influx of Syrian refugees where the population increase has caused a significant additional demand for water, resulting in local water shortages and, ultimately, enormous pressures on the sewage network and wastewater treatment plants.
Another controversial point is that although the agricultural sector’s water requirements accounts for around 52% of national water needs, it contributes only 3% – 4% to gross domestic production (Breulmann et al., 2020b). Moreover, aside from the fresh water supply, the issues of wastewater and sewage treatment are one of the most prominent issues in the water sector in general. Complaints against local water companies have significantly increased due to clogged sewage systems which led to a public outcry in 2013 (Baylouny and Klingseis, 2018).
Overall, we can say that the Syrian refugees did not create the water scarcity in Jordan; however, it has clearly been exacerbated by their presence. Indeed, it could be said that the influx of Syrian refugees has exposed the inherent deficits of the Jordanian water infrastructure and its mismanagement.
EBRD Invests in Jordan's Green Transition
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU) in Jordan are promoting green investments in the private sector by introducing the first internationally supported comprehensive green economy programme in the country.
The programme will support Jordan’s transition to a green economy as the country adapts to an increase in demand for water and energy following substantial growth in population. The government of Jordan launched a National Green Growth Plan (NGGP) in 2016, identifying the most urgent projects in water, sustainable land management, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, and renewable energy.
The EBRD plans to roll out its Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) and the related Green Value Chain (GVC) Facility for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The programme combines commercial loans from the EBRD, concessional loans from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and grant funding by the EU.
GEFF supports businesses and homeowners with investments in green technologies to preserve natural resources, increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions through the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies and solutions. The programme offers loans through local banks and microfinance institutions for on-lending to local corporates and SMEs. The programme also provides free advisory services. To date, GEFF has established a network of more than 140 local financial institutions across 26 countries supported by more than €4 billion of EBRD finance.
GVC provides finance and advice for private sector SMEs to support their competitiveness and growth by strengthening product quality and adding value, improving standards, and creating an enabling environment for exports.
The European Union’s support for green growth in Jordan will be in line with the EU Green Deal, Europe’s main policy direction towards sustainable economic development, and climate action in Europe and the world. The EU Green Deal focuses on the use of green and affordable energy applications aligned with a NEXUS model on energy-water-food synergies, combined with sustainable agriculture practices, and nature conservation and rehabilitation.
The EBRD aims to build a green, low carbon, and resilient economies through its Green Economy Transition approach with the goal of becoming a majority green bank by 2025 and helping reach net annual greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 25 million tonnes over the next five years.
Since the start of its operations in Jordan in 2012, the EBRD has provided more than €1.4 billion in financing for 54 projects.