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Creative solutions needed to fight Jordan’s water scarcity | Climate Crisis

Creative solutions needed to fight Jordan’s water scarcity | Climate Crisis

Samih Hashim, a Jordanian farmer

Amman, Jordan –Jordan, a country dominated by desert, is already feeling climate change’s effects.

Jordan is the country with the second highest water scarcity in the world. Climate change: vulnerableIt has increased due to inconsistent rainfall, higher temperature, and an unexpected population rise following the Syrian civil war, which brought with it the influx of refugees to the country.

Jordanian farmers are struggling to cope with the consequences of water shortages.

Samih Hashim is a Ghor farmer, north of Amman, who is on the front lines of dealing with the crisis.

“As a farmer, I clearly see how the inconsistent rainfall and water scarcity affects our production,” Hashim told Al Jazeera. “We’ve had to reuse water and the production of vegetables and fruit has been significantly smaller.”

Jordan’s agricultural sector is especially vulnerable to climate changes and water scarcity. 61% of Jordan’s cultivated ground is fed by rainfall.

Although the Jordanian government has stated that it is working on the issue, it admits to the vulnerability of Jordan’s agricultural sector.

Samih Hashim, a Jordanian farmer
Samih Hashim, a Jordanian farmer has had to look for other ways to manage water scarcity at his Jordanian farm [Synne Bjerkestrand/Al Jazeera]

“Without any doubt, climate change has obvious consequences and impacts, especially in remote areas,” the Jordanian Minister of Agriculture, Khaled Hneifat, told Al Jazeera.

“The Jordanian government has adopted measures and procedures to support the resilience of rural communities and farmers. We do that by supporting farmers, by subsidising products such as barley, and creating solutions for the lack of water.”

MENA Climate Week

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are facing the same problems as Hashim and Jordan.

The region has a moderate temperature. Increased by 1.5 degrees CelsiusAn analysis of data over the past century has shown that MENA is the most vulnerable region to climate catastrophe in the world. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), climate disasters have affected seven million people annually, displaced more than 2600 people, and caused more $2bn in damage.

This is why the inaugural MENA Climate Week took places March 28-31 in Dubai.

The event, hosted by the Emirati government and organised by the United Nations and the World Bank, aimed to function as a platform for the region’s governments and civil society to discuss opportunities for enhancing climate change.

“In Jordan, we need a fair share of support, especially when it comes to water scarcity, and regional collaboration in order to get the help that we need,” said Omar Shoshan, the chairman of the Jordan Environmental Union, who attended the conference.

“I see the week only as an opportunity for the MENA region to focus more on our challenges and possibilities for collaboration – but it has been very informative and a good opportunity to start the dialogue,” Shoshan added.

Effects on refugees

Jordan is seeing the worst effects of climate changes, particularly in refugee communities.

“The fragile communities pay the price,” said Shoshan. “ An example is the Azraq area, where the second-largest refugee camp in Jordan is located. The area is extremely dry, and this affects the refugees living in the camp, as the water quality is very bad.”

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According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Jordan hosts more than 750,000 refugees. This makes Jordan the second-highest number of refugees per capita in the entire world. Around 18% of refugees in Jordan are living in refugee camps.

“Due to the lack of water, the amount [of water] is controlled to an average of 35 litres per person per day,” said Lilly Carlisle, the spokesperson at UNHCR Jordan. “Most water comes from drilling holes inside the camps, but some has to be trucked in.”

UNHCR is responsible for the Syrian refugee camps in Za’atari and Azraq, which altogether host approximately 118,000 refugees. Those large numbers have taken a toll on Jordan’s infrastructure, but Carlisle said she has seen the refugees working hard to combat the effects of climate change.

“The resilience is remarkable; we see them innovating and creating new solutions for saving water,” Carlisle said. “Some people have created allotments to grow fruit and vegetables using hydroponics, as well as solutions on how to recycle water.”

Those innovative solutions are also used back on Hashim’s farm in Ghor; without them, his farm may be in an even more difficult position.

“I am doing my best by making creative solutions, such as reusing water from my home for watering the fields,” he said.

“I strongly believe in promoting local food, and also bringing the farmers closer to the customer, so that people can learn and see how we grow fruit and vegetables. This is important … so that we can meet the challenges caused by climate change.”

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