The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, like many of its Middle Eastern neighbors, faces major water shortages and is deeply concerned about protecting its precious and limited water supply. To address this concern, the Government of Jordan, in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has developed programs that address issues of water resource management, especially the need to protect the drinking water supply from contamination by pollution and improper waste disposal.
ICMA began implementing programs in Jordan in 2001. Starting in that year, USAID funded a partnership through the ICMA Resources Cities (CityLinks) program between the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), the General Corporation for Environmental Protection (GCEP), and the Metro Waste Authority (MWA) from the City of Des Moines, Iowa. GAM and GCEP proposed a pilot project that would define and implement a methodology to separate household hazardous waste from the main collection system of domestic waste.
Starting in 2003, ICMA facilitated a successful partnership between the Jordan University of Science & Technology, the Jordanian Ministry of Health, and East Carolina University to improve medical waste management in the northern region of the country. By the project’s end, the partnership had implemented a medical waste management system and related policies and practices that could be replicated throughout the country.
In July 2008, ICMA was awarded funding to continue its program in Jordan through November 2010. The goal was to increase the capacity of Jordan’s government to limit the environmental and public health risks posed by waste from households, small businesses, and hospitals.
The program employed the CityLinks model, in which pro-bono management practitioners from U.S. cities, counties, and other organizations form long-term partnerships with officials in developing countries. Among the program participants were the cities of San Juan Capistrano, California, and Des Moines, Iowa; East Carolina University; and Health Care Without Harm (a coalition of organizations).
The partners assessed current problems and needs, then developed and implemented solutions that can be sustained locally and replicated elsewhere. U.S. advisors helped the Jordanian ministries of environment and health adopt and implement waste audits, hazardous waste inventories, medical waste handling procedures, and other practices and technologies. Program activities included a study tour in which five California jurisdictions shared their expertise in hazardous waste management with a delegation from Jordan in June 2009 and a follow-up hazardous waste pilot workshop in June 2010 in Amman.
Through such exchanges and study tours, Jordanian ministry professionals were able to immerse themselves in the tools, techniques, and practices that have been successful in the United States. These exchanges provided an opportunity for "peer-to-peer" assistance as well as a chance to shadow U.S. expert practitioners in their everyday work. This hands-on approach leads to lasting professional relationships and, more important, a clear understanding of the task at hand.