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IMG_9492-min © Natalie Abu-Eisheh pour Action contre la Faim



Guaranteeing access to water, hygiene and sanitation in the Azraq camp


Jordan is the third largest refugee-hosting country in the Middle East. Some 83 kilometers from the capital Amman, the Azraq refugee camp extends over some 14 square kilometers, in the middle of the desert. Initially created to avoid overcrowding in the Zaatari camp in April 2014, Azraq now has 41,000 residents. Among them, 61% are children, the majority of whom have only known life inside the camp. [2]

Since 2015, Action Against Hunger has been one of the main players in strengthening access to water, hygiene and sanitation in the Azraq camp. We are responsible for the operational management of the water supply system, communal latrines, water points, the construction of latrines for the most vulnerable households, and the installation and monitoring of the camp’s grey water network. In 2023, our programs supported 5854 people in the camp.


Creating an infrastructure network


The daily lives of Azraq’s residents have long been hampered by a combination of Jordan’s water shortage, extreme desert weather conditions and lack of infrastructure. First of all, reservoirs, a wastewater network, water points, showers and latrines had to be built. These are all facilities that are essential not only for life and health, but also for the dignity and daily tasks of Azraq’s residents.

Thanks to the joint work of the refugee community, Azraq municipality and humanitarian organizations in the camp, the water supply system has been operational since 2017 and 60% of households now use private latrines. The rest of the population use communal toilets and bathrooms.

Asmaa hails from a rural area near Homs, Syria. She arrived in the camp with her husband and children in 2015, and has been the family’s main financial provider ever since. She describes the difficulties they encountered when they moved to the camp: “Life here was difficult for the first few years. There were no markets, electricity, kitchens or toilets in the shelters. All the refugees had to use communal latrines,” she explains. ” Now we have access to electricity, we have a kitchen and we’ve built our own bathroom“.


Community awareness at the heart of programs


In collaboration with UNICEF, Action Against Hunger has carried out extensive community awareness-raising and mobilization work through a vast network of trained volunteers, including 65 community water, hygiene and sanitation representatives, 750 lead mothers [3] and 65 young people. “Community involvement is crucial to the success of our programs, as it enables us to influence the social norms and behaviors of camp residents“, explains Ala’a Azaizeh, deputy manager of the water, hygiene and sanitation programs. “These awareness-raising sessions enable camp residents to live healthier, more dignified lives“.  

A volunteer with Action Against Hunger since 2019, Asmaa has become a resource person for people in her community. She relays awareness-raising messages and shares advice and best practices linked to the responsible use of water resources, personal and menstrual hygiene with the lead mothers, who in turn pass on this information to their neighbors. During the sessions she runs, the group usually sits on mats in the small courtyard in front of her caravan.

The residents of Azraq are more aware now. For example, they no longer throw bread and sanitary towels in the same garbage can. I myself didn’t know that grey water could be reused. Now I use the water used to wash vegetables and cook rice to water the plants, so I don’t waste it anymore“, explains Asmaa. 


Maintaining essential aid over the long term


Although efforts to provide access to water, hygiene and sanitation have been effective on many fronts, there is still a long way to go. “People are asking for water taps at plot level. This would solve many water-related problems and reduce wastage. The situation would improve considerably if this measure were implemented“, observes Asmaa.

Increased water consumption over the past two years, low water pressure and vandalism of water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure have led to inequitable access to resources and services. In addition, growing deficits in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector make it difficult to maintain the minimum provision of these services.

In addition, the volume of humanitarian aid granted to Jordan is declining and donors are increasingly focusing on development approaches, which could jeopardize the attention given to humanitarian programs in Azraq camp in the years to come. But Azraq’s residents are largely dependent on humanitarian aid, and their economic opportunities remain limited.


[3] Lead mothers are members of a support group of mothers who come together to support each other, learn from each other and raise awareness of a particular issue in their community.  


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