(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Germany on Monday granted Jordan 10 million euros to improve water supply and health services in the northern region, where the majority of Syrian refugees reside.
Under an agreement signed yesterday by Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar and Germany's Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel, 8.5 million euros will be allocated to rehabilitate water resources and infrastructure and the remainder to revamp health centres.
"This is urgent aid to assist Jordan under the current critical conditions, especially rising pressure on water resources in the north," Najjar told reporters during the signing ceremony.
The 8.5 million euros will be channelled to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and 1.5 million euros to the United Nations Higher Committee for Refugees.
The grant seeks to alleviate pressure on the government when securing water for both local communities and Syrian refugees, Najjar noted.
"The money will be spent on implementing small and urgent projects to rehabilitate networks and drill new wells" The projects will not only serve Syrian refugees but also local communities in the long-run," the minister said.
He noted that improving water networks and resources in the northern governorates is just as vital as securing water supply for the Zaatari Refugee Camp, underscoring that 60 per cent of refugees live outside the camp and share Jordanians' already-limited water supply.
"We are currently preparing project documents and identifying which networks need to be replaced and where we can dig new wells. Once the money arrives within 10 days, implementation will commence and it will be quick," Najjar underscored.
Over 150,000 Syrians have entered the Kingdom since May 2011, according to the government.
The first refugee camp for Syrians opened last month with the aim of easing the strain refugees are placing on Jordan's already stressed resources, with the presence of thousands of Syrians triggering a housing shortage, rising prices and a costly spike in water demand.
Meanwhile, Syrian refugees' water share at the Zaatari Refugee Camp will be 50 litres per day per capita, according to Niebel, who said that water tankers will be purchased to transport water to the camp, in addition to rehabilitating water networks and resources to reduce water loss.
"Germany appreciates Jordan's hosting of Syrian refugees and wants to assist in addressing resulting pressures, especially since Jordan has its own challenges to handle," Niebel said during the signing ceremony.
The grant will support the water sector infrastructure, particularly since Jordan is among the world's most water-deprived countries, noted the German minister, who arrived in the Kingdom on a two-day visit on Monday.
"Our contribution will help prevent any future struggles between refugees and local residents" We don't want the influx of Syrians to create a negative impact on Jordan, whether now or in the future," Niebel noted.
He highlighted that health centres in different municipalities will be revamped and receive new medical equipment.
The German minister also visited the Zaatari camp, a hospital in Mafraq and a water filling station south of Mafraq to obtain first-hand insights into the situation, a German embassy statement said.
According to the health ministry's figures, some 30,000 Syrians have been treated in the country's medical facilities, while 25,000 children under the age of five have been inoculated at a cost of JD800,000.
The ministry estimates the cost of providing health services to Syrians staying in Jordan to reach JD30 million this year.