Thousands of Syrians fled their country to Jordan to escape the deteriorating security situation in Syria, and the influx of displaced people is stretching the kingdom's infrastructure and water resources.
The water deficit for 2011 was 500 million cubic metres, and water reserves in dams have dropped to 108 million cubic metres in 2012, according to Jordan's water ministry. Demand for water in Jordan is expected to increase 6% this year.
Fadhl Mohammed al-Zoubi, a resident of Ramtha near the Syrian border, said the water problem is increasing because of high demand, leading to service disruptions for the entire population.
"Fifteen years ago, water was distributed to us two days a week during the summer and throughout the week in the winter with no pressure on demand for water," he told Al-Shorfa. "Lately, the situation has changed, and we now receive water once a week for four hours only, so we resorted to buying water storage tanks, which increases the financial burden on low-income households."
Radad Qallab, a journalist who specialises in water issues, said the water needs of more than 110,000 displaced Syrians is an estimated 9,000 cubic metres per day, or 3.5 million cubic metres annually.
"The financial cost of this amount is about five million dinars per year ($7 million)," he said.
Ali Bibi, a communications official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman, said the number of refugees registered with the UNHCR continues to increase.
An estimated 7,800 Syrians registered with the UNHCR in May, bringing the total number of registered refugees in Jordan to 22,000 people since March 2011. However, according to some estimates, the true number of displaced Syrians in Jordan may be as many as 110,000 people.
The international community is helping Jordan to provide Syrians with essential services.
Bibi said the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the UNHCR and the Japanese emergency organisation JEN, rehabilitated two freshwater wells and a number of sanitation facilities in the Ramtha area and provided public sanitary services.
He said assistance from the World Food Programme reaches 25,000 Syrians and that food rations are distributed to them daily.
About 7,400 Syrian students also enrolled in public schools free of tuition, and the kingdom provides free healthcare to registered Syrian refugees.
Shteiwi al-Adamat, head of the Ahl al-Jabal charity organisation, said his organisation is working with other humanitarian agencies like UNICEF to provide psychological and social support to displaced Syrian families in the Mafraq region.
"There is a clear change taking place in [terms of] infrastructure and the social structure in areas where Syrian refugees are located," Al-Adamat added. "[There is] a noticeable increase in the prices of goods and commodities and an increase in the daily volume of waste, estimated at 50 tons a day, and higher demand for potable water."
He said efforts are being made to provide assistance to displaced people, but major challenges remain.
"The pressure on infrastructure has risen, especially in the electricity and water sectors, causing continual interruption of water service that is likely to worsen during the summer," al-Adamat said.
Abu Ismail, a Syrian refugee who fled to Jordan three months ago and resides in Mafraq, said, "We are not as concerned about the assistance being provided to us or our current living conditions as much as we are about the future and having to stay for an extended period of time in Jordan."
He said refugees face problems ranging from securing housing to changing their lifestyle. Many Syrian refugees need to adjust to coming from a region rich in water resources to a country that lacks adequate water reserves.
"We try to keep our circumstances from [affecting] the children so they are not scarred by them because our life now is different than it was before," Ismail said. "The current situation can be described as a day-to-day existence. Hopefully, the coming days offer a glimmer of hope that the situation will change."