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New water, sanitation tariffs weigh heavy on many households

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Sep 18,2023 - Last updated at Sep 18,2023

AMMAN — As over 70 per cent of Jordanian households will be affected by the newly endorsed water and sanitation tariff, economists urge the government to address water loss challenge rather than increasing water and sanitation tariffs. 

The Cabinet endorsed the plan to restructure the water and sanitation tariffs for households for 2023-2029 on Sunday. 

Starting from the September bill, bills will be issued on a monthly basis, aligning with the current tariffs until December 1. However, as of January 2024, the tariffs will see significant adjustments, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

The revised plan categorises households based on their monthly water consumption. The first category includes households that consume between zero and 6m3 per month, with no changes in tariffs for 2024. For households exceeding this limit, extra charges will apply.

This plan is in line with the 2023-2040 National Water Strategy, which seeks to ensure financial sustainability for the sector, whose debt currently stands at JD2.3 billion, according to Petra.

Jordan, known as the second most water-scarce country in the world, has witnessed a decline in water availability per capita over the past few decades, reaching levels of less than 100m3 per year — one of the lowest worldwide. 

This scarcity was felt by Jordanians this summer when water shortages led numerous households to rely on water tanks for basic needs.

The announcement of the new water and sanitation tariff has elicited concerns among Jordanians. Many are worried that the increased financial burden will further strain their budgets, especially those in middle and lower-income brackets.

Economists also expressed reservations about the decision and argued the government should prioritise addressing the challenge of water loss instead of shifting the financial burden onto consumers. 

Water loss, caused by leaky infrastructure and inefficient distribution systems, is a pressing issue that could be tackled to ensure sustainable access to water for all Jordanians, economists said. 

Ahmad Suradi, a household provider from Amman, told The Jordan Times that dividing the amount into three payments is better for him. 

“It eases the financial burden compared to paying a lump sum every three months,” Suradi said. “This way, my family can budget more effectively.” 

Nadia Smadi, a household provider from Ajloun, opposes the new water and sanitation tariff. 

“This increase in tariffs will hit us hard,” Smadi said. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and these changes only add to the financial strain on families.” 

“Every year the government adds to the monthly bill of Jordanians, last year electricity tariff was changed, this year water tariff will change, and the inflation is definitely not reflected on our salaries,” Smadi said. 

“Jordanians are financially exhausted, and can’t put up with all of these increases,” Smadi added.

Hassan Qaisi, a household provider, told The Jordan Times that covering the cost of living is becoming increasingly difficult. 

“We’re already grappling with high living costs. It feels like the government is squeezing us further,” Qaisi said. “I worry about how this will affect not only my family but many others who are already struggling.”

Qaisi questioned whether the increase in tariff will ensure water sustainability. 

“Are we going to stop buying water from tanks with this new tariff?” 

Economist Hussam Ayesh said that rather than increasing water tariffs, the government should prioritise addressing the issue of water loss.

“This challenge is not only wasteful but also exacerbates water scarcity. By investing in improving infrastructure and reducing leaks, the government can ensure water sustainability without burdening consumers,” Ayesh told The Jordan Times. 

Meanwhile, economist Wajdi Makhamreh urged the government to consider the impact on Jordanian households.

“While financial sustainability is essential, the government should ‘take it easy’ on Jordanians, especially those with limited means,” Makhamreh said.

It’s crucial to strike a balance between financial responsibility and the welfare of citizens, measures should be put in place to protect vulnerable households from the brunt of these changes, Makhamreh said. 


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