1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Jordan

Agriculture threatened by worst rainfall in 50 years

Jordan Valley Farmers are experiencing a severe lack of rainfall and urgent steps are needed to expand the area covered by greenery and promote the efficient use of water, environmentalists say
(Dale Gillard/Flickr)

Jordan Valley Farmers are experiencing a severe lack of rainfall and urgent steps are needed to expand the area covered by greenery and promote the efficient use of water, environmentalists say.



“The rainfall situation this season is unprecedented. Jordan has not witnessed such a situation for more than 50 years,” Musa Jamaini, secretary-general of the Jordan Valley Authority (JVA), told IRIN by phone.



Ahmed Koufahi, executive director of the Jordan Environment Society, a local NGO, said climate change was to blame for the abnormal weather, adding that he feared the worst was yet to come unless officials adopt "a serious policy".



"We need to prepare citizens for the worst.” People should not take water for granted, and use it more wisely," Koufahi said.



Ban imposed



Jamaini said JVA - a government body responsible for the development, utilisation, protection and conservation of water resources in the Jordan Valley area - decided in January to ban summer (May-September) agricultural production in 2009.



“We decided to ban summer agriculture, which consists mainly of vegetables and leafy greens, to secure water for drinking and daily use in Amman, Irbid and other cities,” Jamaini said.



He said JVA was committed to providing water during the agricultural season (October to April) in Jordan Valley, the country’s largest irrigated agricultural area.












20065280.jpg

Maria Font de Matas/IRIN
The once fertile land with all types of flora and fauna has painfully turned into a hostile terrain, Jordan, 24 May 2006. Public officials say the kingdom has been robbed of its fair share of surface water because neighbouring countries help themselves t
http://www.irinnews.org/
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Water contamination incidents highlight water shortage problem
The once fertile land with all types of flora and fauna has painfully turned into a hostile terrain, Jordan, 24 May 2006. Public officials say the kingdom has been robbed of its fair share of surface water because neighbouring countries help themselves t


Photo: Maria Font de Matas/IRIN
Jordan does not have lakes or rivers except for the River Jordan which faces water scarcity in its basin

“We are also committed to providing 11,500 hectares of trees with 50-60 percent of their water needs to ensure their survival,” he said.



According to Jamaini, the plan is flexible and will allow farmers to cultivate crops during summer if sufficient rain falls in February.



Jordan does not have lakes or rivers except for the River Jordan which faces water scarcity in its basin. The kingdom’s water supply depends on dams or underground reservoirs that collect water during winter.



“Water scarcity is a reality and we have to deal with it,” Basel Shehadeh, head of the Jordan Valley Farmers’ Association, said. “We cannot assume that water supplies will come to us, as what is available is barely enough to cover main agriculture production.”



Dependent on winter rain



Experts say most of the country’s water reserves come from rain that falls in December and January, but this year there are problems:



“Rainfall to date constituted 32 percent of the average annual rainfall in northern areas and 22 percent in central areas,” Abdul Halim Abu Hazeem, head of the Jordan Meteorological Department, told IRIN. The percentage goes down as you move southwards, he said.



Adnan al-Zubi, spokesperson of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, told IRIN the country’s 10 main dams currently hold less water than at any time in recent years. “Dams hold 59mcm [million cubic metres] to date, about 27 percent of their 327mcm capacity. This figure was about 100mcm this time last year,” he said.



Jordan Valley has 45,000 hectares of arable land of which 27,500 are cultivated, Jamaini said, adding: About 60 percent of those involved in agriculture are small farmers, and they fear the government might stop pumping water to their farms and re-divert King Hussein canal to the capital, Amman, for domestic use.



dvh/mbh/ar/cb

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join