The women plumbers breaking taboos in Jordan

Water availability in Jordan is among the lowest in the world.
One of the plumbers receiving training in 2016.

When the annual supply of water per capita falls below 1,000 cubic meters, the population faces water scarcity, according to the UN, with the threshold for "absolute scarcity" set at 500 cubic meters.
Jordan has an annual supply of just 150 cubic meters per capita.

The crisis, which has forced the government to access non-renewable sources from fossilized aquifers, is made worse by contributing factors such as climate change, population increase and the poor state of the distribution network, which is blamed for water losses of up to 40 percent.

To help address these issues Jordan has started a training program for plumbers, in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Half of the trainees are women, and more than a third are Syrian refugees.

The campaign has a dual goal: to offer employment and to increase awareness around water scarcity in Jordanian households.

It will also help to overcome prevailing traditions in the country: normally, male plumbers would need a male member of the house to be present in order to enter. A female plumber, however, can enter even when no male is present.

The program has allowed women to challenge other limitations, too: "Jordanian society has a lot of traditions and cultural limitations. People don't like women to develop and step up into things like this," says Nemah Khawaja, one of the plumbers in the project.

"It's not a matter of them not accepting the idea, but it's them questioning 'can you do this as a woman, can you do this job'? By proving ourselves, and our insistence we proved to them that we can do this."

Khawaja and other plumbers like her use their training to repair water pipes in the Amman and Irbid areas, while educating families on how to reduce waste.
"The entire world must contribute in reducing water wastage," she says.

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