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Attitudes to water usage in Jordan

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By Laura Bolton

1. Summary

The research base into attitudes to water usage in Jordan is very small with only a few relevant articles identified in the course of this rapid review. One survey was identified which assessed attitudes towards water conservation, sampling 2000 residents in three regions in Jordan (Irbid, Amman, and Zarqa) in 2017 (USAID, 2017 & 2018). Only 61% of respondents believed there was a water shortage in Jordan. 23% believed the water shortage was due to population pressures. The survey focussed more on water conservation than water use. The three most common water saving methods were turning off the tap, testing water networks, and using water saving devices. Reasons for not saving water include social gatherings, showing off cleanliness, and ignorance.

The survey also asked questions to explore how water information might best be received. Water utility companies were the most trusted source for information, followed closely by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, and then family and friends. Respondents were concerned that water saving initiatives might cost them time.

Most of the respondents felt the government were not doing enough on water shortage issues. They were not asked how they feel about the role of the government versus their individual responsibility. Older respondents perceived the shortages to be more critical. A lack of interest in participating in water saving activities was identified among the youth. Syrian respondents reflected different water practices than Jordanians although practices became increasingly aligned the longer their residency.

Water quality was perceived as poor in the USAID survey and noted in other sources. Al-Mefleh et al. (2019) find 71% of respondents surveyed in 200 households in Al-Mafraq consider the water pumped through the public system to be insufficient. A survey in Amman in 2010 found that less than a third of residents use networked water for drinking. Hurlimann & Dolnicar (2016) find 64% of the 200 survey respondents consider their current water supply to be bad for their health.

A water awareness campaign run by the USAID Water Management Institute designed by a large advertising company in 2019 was deemed successful. Messaging through religious forums and teachings have been involved in campaigns.

An article on water rationing in 2010 in Amman shows some inequality with higher-income houses having greater storage capacity (Potter et al., 2010). The survey found that most residents had management strategies in place for the day that the water was delivered.

A survey of attitudes to alternative water sources, with 200 participants, found that most considered recycled water to be bad for their health (81%) (Hurlimann & Dolnicar, 2016). Rainwater from a tank was considered the cheapest source and the alternative source that was most known about. Only 26% considered rainwater to be bad for health, although 76% described it as unclean.

There was little in the published or grey literature which goes into detail of the sub-questions suggesting that primary research would be useful to answer more specifically what Jordanians feel is the role of the government in managing resources and to what extent they feel they have personal responsibility. Only one survey looked at intergenerational differences and not in a lot of detail. There was little on gender differences to water attitude and use.

Views about politics of regional cooperation and refugee pressure on water use potentially affect attitudes to water but this was not identified specifically within the scope of this report.

Read the full report here.