News & Insights

National Water Week series – Suhaib Malkawi’s story.

19 Oct 22 · People

I grew up in Jordan, the second most water scarce country in the world, according to UNICEF.

There are many references on the internet to how that impacts people, but from a personal point of view I can tell you it sucks.

Suhaib-Malkawi-Sequana-storyIn my city (Irbid), people have access to the water from the network only once per week. It is a water management strategy by the water authority of Jordan. In most cases, the water will be available in the network for 10-15 hours during that day! These hours are random, they can be in the morning or after midnight. So everyone must be prepared at all times.

People usually use storage water tanks and barrels to store enough water for the whole week.  That means if someone missed this period for some reason, or they have a small leak in their tanks! They won’t have water for that week.

Water day in Irbid City

Water day is the best day of the week. Everyone is happy, hanging out on their rooftops and filling their water tanks. All you can hear in that day is water splashing everywhere and pumps clanging right across the city. It is quite normal to see people washing their cars, clothes, windows and sometimes their kids in the neighbourhood. Quite literally everything and everyone is wet on Water Day.

However, the volume of water that each neighbourhood can access is limited. Therefore, if someone stored more water than they should, their neighbours won’t have enough. As a result, everyone makes sure to be on time to secure their correct water share before there is none left.

Water Day in my house

Wednesday morning, our water turn, my parents wake up very early and wake everyone up! I’d say there is no need for all this manpower, but it is somewhat of a ritual. Every one of my six household members has a role to play. Some of us watch the water meter till water arrives and others prepare for the weekly cleaning mission. My role was to stay on the roof to be ready to fill the tank when the water arrives. We used to fill the tank from a water hose connected to a small pump transporting the water from the main tap (downstairs) to the tank on the roof. The funniest part was when my father tried so hard to throw the water hose from downstairs up to me on the roof and I had to catch it and put the end in the tank. Sometimes it would hit me on the face, or it would fall on my father’s head.

In the end, nothing can be more satisfying than having a full water tank on Water Day. Even though I now live in Australia, this family fun still happens in every week across Jordan households, but it is expected to get worse over time. It has certainly made me very mindful and thankful of what we have in this country, and especially the roles we all need to play in conserving one of our most precious natural resources.