Screen grab of a video showing a father giving a shower to his children. 
This amateur video has created a buzz on the Internet in Jordan over the past few days: outside a building owned by the state-owned water distribution company, a man uses one of the company’s taps to give his children a shower. The video, throughout which the children giggle, would have been amusing if it didn’t highlight a problem Jordanians face every day: a severe lack of clean water.
The shower in question took place in front of a regional centre for the water distribution company in the town of Zarqa, 60 kilometres north-east of the Jordanian capital, Amman. The cameraman begins by filming the company’s water tank trucks, on the sides of which are written the words “drinkable water”. The camera then approaches a man in the middle of soaping his children. Facing the camera (at 2 minutes 50 seconds into the video), the man later identified as Haytham Dhafer first declines to give his identity, then goes on to complain about the months of water cuts his neighbourhood has endured. He explains he is doing this – a day before the new school year starts – because he wants to make sure his children are clean for school. He says he has alerted local authorities about the water situation in his area, but nothing has been done.
The man’s actions became a talking point on the Internet in Jordan, so much so that a newspaper called the Water Ministry and demanded answers about the water cuts in Zarqa. The ministry’s spokespeople stated that water is being supplied to the local population, and denied ever receiving a complaint from Dhafer. Management at the local water distribution centre also said that 85% of households in Zarqa received drinkable water.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Jordan is one of the worst-affected countries in terms of fresh water distribution, with an average of 150 cubic metres of water per person. The global average is 6,800 cubic metres. There is considered to be a water shortage if the average per person is less than 1,000 cubic metres.

“Here, running water is only available for three days a week, from Friday to Sunday”

Omar Al Shishan is a businessman in Zarqa.
There are several reasons to explain the water management problems in Jordan. First of all, there is a lack of natural resources: most of the water we consume comes from precipitation [Editor’s Note: The Jordan River, the only large river in Jordan, has dried considerably over the years, and its water is mainly used by Israel]. With the lack of rainfall in recent years, our supplies have been declining [Editor’s Note: Jordan has seen falling rainfall since 2008]. The decades-old infrastructure is insufficient and cannot always deliver water [Editor’s Note: The water supply is regularly cut off in order to repair pipes].
Until 1990, we had no problems in Jordan. But since then, refugees have poured into the country because of regional conflicts. There were Kuwaiti refugees after the Gulf War [the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait between 1990 and 1991]; Iraqis after the 2003 Iraq war, and now Syrians are arriving by the thousands. So during the four warmest months of the year, when the demand for water is at its greatest, the authorities supply different areas in turn. I live in Sokhna, and here, running water is only available for three days a week, from Friday to Sunday. Therefore, every house has its own reservoir. I have an 8 metre square reservoir at my house in order to meet my family’s water needs for the whole week.
I understand the anger of residents, like this father on the video whom we see shower his children. The authorities must distribute the water more evenly between different neighbourhoods because some areas are more affected by water cuts than others. But this is not only the fault of politicians. The root cause is the lack of resources in the region.”
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Sarra Grira.