Za’atari camp, Jordan – Ahed, 12, arrives from school as we are chatting with her mother about life in the camp. She shyly greets us and sits besides her mother.
“Ahed, why don’t you get some water before you settle down,” her mother asks her.
Ahed disappears and her mother continues telling us about how proud she is of her four children. Before we can explain further why we are visiting, Ahed is back and joins us on the floor.
“I thought you will be gone for a long time,” I ask her. “The water tank is just next door. And now there are no queues so I don’t have to walk a long distance or wait a long time to get water,” she replies with a smile.
Ahed explains that during their first months in the camp, she would often miss school because so many things were not right.
“Everything took a very long time to get. The worst were the communal bathrooms, they were smelly and I dreaded going into them but I had no choice.”
Having been in the camp for over two years with her family, Ahed has been able to see the improvements in the provision of water and sanitation services in the camp.
With support from Kuwait, UNICEF through its partners have been able to ensure that Syrian refugees in Jordan receive an average 35L of water every day. The services include the daily supply of clean water, desludging of waste water and hygiene promotion. In a highly populated community, these interventions are critical for preventing the spread of water-borne diseases and other public health threats.
The support also enables the collection and disposal of solid waste using 19 trucks in the camp. On average, 24 trips are made disposing around 750 cubic meters of solid waste on a daily basis.
With the support of the Kuwaiti Government, UNICEF was also able to mobilize District Field Assistants (DFAs) who constantly monitor the quality of water, so that families and individuals in the camp continue to receive adequate amount of clean water on time.
“It is not enough to just provide water. It is critical that the water we provide is safe for consumption and the DFAs play a critical role in ensuring this,” said UNICEF’s Chief of WASH, Esmaeil Ibrahim.
UNICEF is currently in the process of building a water distribution network in the camp, which will drastically reduce operational costs, ensure equitable distribution of water to all families and also help protect the environment.
“My hope is to complete my education and become an eye doctor, so that I can help people,” says Ahed.
For Ahed and thousands like her in camps and communities in Jordan, UNICEF continues to innovate to reduce costs and sustain basic services to ensure that they remain healthy and safe, and keep their hopes and dreams alive.