The incredible LEGO water network

Living in a refugee camp has given 12-year old Ahmad a unique hobby

Claire McKeever
A boy and man hold a LEGO brick model
UNICEF-Herwig

25 March 2019

Ahmad, 12 years, has spent half of his young life in Za'atari refugee camp. It has given him a unique interest in how a water and wastewater network has evolved in this water-scarce location to serve a population of nearly 80,000 people - more than half of them children.

He was fascinated by the construction of the new network, watching with interest the laying of new pipes to deliver water to every household. His replica of the network using his LEGO bricks traces the journey taken by each drop of water in the camp.

It is very important that we know where our water is coming from.

What I like is that clean water is delivered to us straight from the borehole to our home water tanks.

Ahmad, 12

“Each caravan has a water tank and that tank gets filled with water which then feeds our home," explains Ahmad to UNICEF WASH Specialist, Ben Smith. "Then I use the water for drinking, for the toilet and for cleaning. I clean my clothes really well.”

Pointing at a LEGO man with a bag, Ahmad exclaims: “And that is me going to school!

Children need clean water and if they don’t have any, they will get sick. This can become very serious.

Ahmad, 12

The new network is also playing a critical in safeguarding the environment. The safe management and disposal of wastewater protects the underlying aquifer from any possible contamination, therefore contributing to the protection of the Kingdom’s precious ground water resources.

 

A man shakes hands with a boy
UNICEF-Herwig
Ahmad with UNICEF WASH Specialist, Ben Smith, taking a tour of the new network.
A boy poses with a team of people
UNICEF-Herwig
Ahmad joins the UNICEF WASH team in Za'atari

 

Ahmad knows how precious water is (Jordan is the world’s second most water scarce country).

“The water available to us is little so we shouldn’t waste it.”

Ahmad has been inspired by the project and has clear ambitions for the future. “I want to become a construction engineer for a project like this one. I will make sure that no one ever runs out of water."

The ambitious water and sanitation project undertaken by UNICEF, with the support of the Ministry of Water, was made possible thanks to the generous support of Germany, through the KFW, in addition to funding from Canada, UK and US.