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National workshop tackles water sector challenges

By Batool Ghaith - Feb 26,2022 - Last updated at Feb 26,2022

Water Minister Mohammad Najjar and experts take part in a workshop, as part of the National Economic Workshop, focused on water sector challenges on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Awal Taweel)

 

AMMAN — The first meeting of the National Economic Workshop was launched on Saturday at the Royal Hashemite Court titled “Moving towards the future: Unlocking the possibilities to modernise the economy”.

His Majesty King Abdullah directed the government to hold this workshop to draw a “roadmap” which would be translated into governmental action plans over the years. The workshop covers 17 sectors and includes about 300 experts and specialists who represent the main sectors constituting all economic activities.

The sectors covered are agriculture and food security, energy, water, mining, communications and information technology, markets and services, healthcare, trade, industry, tourism, education and the labour market, transport and logistics, urban development and climate change, and creative industries.

During the first meeting of the workshop, experts assessed the current situation of vital economic sectors.

The water sector workshop presented and discussed the sector’s current situation, challenges, weaknesses, priorities, goals, water sources, problem solving and much more, in the presence of Water Minister Mohammad Najjar.

Water experts, academics, sector representatives and officials highlighted the goals of a new strategy that will be implemented, aiming to increase job opportunities, improve the government response to citizen expectations. Additionally, it also discussed ways to reach a consensus between investors and the private sector. 

According to the presentation, in order to achieve the new strategy and have a roadmap, as directed by His Majesty, there needs to be operational executive plans for all sectors that are linked to key performance indicators (KPI).

Najjar emphasised the importance of the relationship between the water sector and other sectors as coordination is important in addition to activating regulations and laws.

“The most important problems faced by the water sector are management, application of laws and regulations and financing,” Najjar said.

The minister encouraged the restructuring and re-activating of the Water Policy Council and the implementation of periodic meetings, noting that this will make the strategy “transient for all governments and be a monitor for any results from the workshops and meetings,” he explained.

The minister also noted that His Majesty directed the ministry to put a new strategy for the water sector until the year 2040.

Chairman of EDAMA’s Board of Directors Dureid Mahasneh indicated that the “political orientation of any strategy is very important, as any work needs to be audited and accounted for”. 

Mahasneh indicated that the water sector “does not use renewable energy, which is a problem”. 

“The water sector pays JD210 million for electricity costs, which can be reduced if we use renewable energy for the process of generation, pumping and sterilisation. If used, JD100 million would be saved which can be put into important projects such as the national carrier,” he added.

Regarding water distribution, Mahasneh stressed the idea of strengthening population areas far from the capital and closer to water sources alongside encouraging housing near the water sources to reduce pumping and infrastructure costs as population distribution does not exist in these areas.

The discussion also covered sector priorities, such as raising the per capita share of water, reducing the water deficit, quality control, introducing technology with the aim of saving water, activating and accelerating the completion of projects, scientific research, accountability and sustainability, among others.

Experts stressed the significance of partnering with the private sector, as well as the diversification of water sources along with raising public awareness and establishing a framework for transboundary water.

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