Drought in Jordan
Natural resources

Natural resources

Water shortage in Jordan

Barely any country suffers from a lack of water as much as Jordan. Due to refugees from Syria and Iraq, the country's water requirements are increasing dramatically. KfW is now increasing its commitment in the crisis region.

water supply in Jordan
The overland route

Many houses are not connected to the water network. Tank lorries bring supplies.

It's a hot August day in Ar Ramtha, a city in the north of Jordan. Small tankers drive through the streets – the water sellers are coming. Nothing has come from the pipes in the houses for days now. During the hot summer months the residents have the tanks on their roofs refilled time and again; some even come with canisters and bottles and fill them up directly from the lorries.

Water shortages are not the exception in Jordan, this is normal. The country is located in one of the most arid regions in the world, and in summer it often does not rain for several months. Statistically, a Jordanian tends only to have 20 litres of fresh water available per day – the United Nations defines a daily ration of 50 litres as a basic right. Crises and wars in the region have made the situation in Jordan even more pressing. Due to the influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq, the number of inhabitants has increased from 6.7 million to 9.5 million in recent years according to the Jordanian Government. And they all need water. Water supply is a problem, especially in the north of the country close to the border with Syria, where a large number of the refugees live. Requirements there have increased by 40 percent due to the influx.

”The water supply was maintained, despite the increase in population.“

Jonas Rathfelder, KfW coordinator for water projects in Jordan

A small and economically weak country, Jordan needs assistance with water more urgently than ever before. Especially in communities which have taken in refugees, the outdated supply network is now completely overstretched.

This is why KfW has already invested a total of EUR 78.5 million in the crisis water programme in the last four years. It is now increasing its commitment further. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, KfW signed contracts with the Jordanian Government for grants amounting to EUR 40 million to improve the drinking water supply and wastewater disposal at the end of July.

In addition, loans of the same amount are expected to be disbursed to the region. French development bank AFD and the European Union are investing an additional EUR 72 million in communities in the north of Jordan.


The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is the French development bank and an important partner of KfW in Financial Cooperation. By 2019 more than 100 joint projects had already been implemented. Both banks belong to the IDFC network of development banks.

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In the province of Irbid, around one million people are receiving help as part of the joint European initiative. This includes 200,000 refugees from Syria.

"With the projects, we don’t just want to improve the situation for the population as quickly as possible, we also want to avoid conflicts concerning the naturally scarce water resources in Jordan at the same time," says Jonas Rathfelder, the responsible project manager at KfW.

Cover of CHANCEN

This article was published in CHANCEN autumn/winter 2016 “Die Macht des Wassers”.

To German edition

And yet the challenges for the future remain enormous: according to studies, Jordan will be one of the Middle Eastern countries most affected by climate change. At the same time, there are opportunities which have not yet been tapped into. “In countries like Jordan where rainfall is so low, there is great potential for the purification and reuse of wastewater,” said Rathfelder. KfW is also active in this area. Using recycling water in agriculture makes more precious fresh water available to the population. This is a decisive factor for the future: agriculture currently consumes about two thirds of the water in Jordan.


All United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda in 2015. At its heart is a list of 17 goals for sustainable development, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our world should become a place where people are able to live in peace with each other in ways that are ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective.

Published on KfW Stories: 7 April 2017, last updated 16 August 2017.