(A map of Jordan and the surrounding region highlighting the Disi Aquifer and the proposed Red-Dead project.)
With worrying frost alerts in Jordan getting farmers anxious, Jordanians are also seeing a rainless season this year, increasing their fears that crops will collapse. Last week, officials had been calling on its citizens to pray for rain, a common practice done in Israel among religious Jews as part of their daily prayer ritual.
Since the report of a persistent drought, by the IRIN news, rain has come to the region. So we hope the farmers prayers, at least for this week, have been answered. But, we learn, the rainwater insufficiently filled up Jordan’s storage facilities.
By the end of December, almost no rain had fallen on Jordan, says IRIN, threatening crops of vegetables, wheat and barley. Farmers from Deir Ala, in the northern Jordan Valley, said that their government had stopped pumping water to their farms for irrigation in order to keep drinking water reserves stocked.
“I only pray that rain falls very soon, or else I will lose all my harvest,” said Salim Abdullah to IRIN. He’s a farmer with 100 dunums of barley on the outskirts of Kerak.
Water talks has become an issue of regional importance and survival. A conference on the Mediterranean region was held on December 23rd and hosted by the European Union on Jordan’s side of the Dead Sea to discuss ways of fighting climate change and its inevitable impact on water resources.
According to IRIN, of the 19 countries that took part in the one-day event, Jordan was the poorest in terms of water resources. While activists fervently oppose the Dead Sea-Red Sea canal over here in Israel, Jordanian officials, it seems are in favor.
They presented their case to donors with a call to support the canal (which by the IRIN, was reported as a long sought-out solution). It might prove to be the only life line for the 5.6 million population as water resources continue drying, the online newspaper reports.
Implementing the Dead Sea-Red Sea canal project
Meanwhile, the Israeli minister of infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer [who is planning on building a coal-fired power plant in Israel] said his country strongly supports Jordan’s calls for building the canal. He said Jordan would pump around 60 percent of the water from the canal while Israel and the Palestinian territories would get the remaining 40 percent combined.
If completed, the Dead Sea-Red Sea project would provide Jordan with a primary source of energy.
Cutting through the desert bordering Jordan and Israel in Wadi Araba, the canal would carve out a natural borderline between the two countries. A total of 650 million cubic metres would be pumped from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea annually.
According to IRIN: “A rapid decline in Dead Sea water levels has alarmed environmentalists in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories who fear the biblical site might dry up within 50 years.”
World Bank experts, as we’ve read, are assessing the environmental impact. Egyptians warn that the Sinai coral reefs will be put in harm’s way. From a personal point of view, I don’t think the canal should be built.
For more illuminating stories on Jordan’s environmental issues, see:
Crops Safe From Frost, In Jordan
Eco-Tourism In The Middle East Takes Us to Jordan
Israel-Jordan Peace Canal, Route to Environmental Disaster?