The last family connected

A new, sustainable water and sanitation network is improving the lives of refugees in Za'atari

Claire McKeever
A girl pours a glass of water from the tap

22 March 2019

Amina has lived in Za'atari Refugee Camp for almost seven years with her children and grandchildren. They are one of the last families to be connected to the new water and sanitation network - an innovative and ambitious project that is critical to ensure the sustainability of water and wastewater services for the 45,000 children in the camp and their families.



We have come such a long way. If I were to give a grade for the changes – it would go from zero to ten!


“At first the situation was bad,” Amina explains. “Bad for water, for shelter and everything else."

Amina remembers when water came from public tap stands instead of directly to their home. Trucks full of water would arrive on their street, which would quickly become crowded full of people queuing to get their share.

Now the water distribution is equitable and life is easier for Amina and her family. “The water is plentiful and that is great.”


Amina's daughter Sidra approves of the changes too. At first, toilet blocks were communal and she was too afraid to go to the toilet at night.

"They were far away and it wasn’t safe to go, especially for me as a girl. For boys, it was fine."

Now with a toilet in each home she feels safe.

A boy stands outside holding a football
Diaa, 10, has lives with his grandmother and other family members in Za’atari Refugee Camp

Before the new water network, Amina's grandson Diaa would collect water from the communal tap stands. “We used to go far over there, far away, where the water was,” says Diaa. “We had jerrycans and buckets and would go fill them up. We would either bring them in a wheelbarrow or carry them home. It would take us an hour to bring the water all the way home.”

Diaa and the other boys would carry up to 12 buckets a day but he estimates at least 3 buckets of water were wasted through spillage, causing them great frustration.

Now I go and play football, which is much better than collecting water.

Diaa, 10

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.