By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Jordan will receive $45 million plus interest this month from the UN Compensation Committee (UNCC) for damage incurred during the first Gulf War, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

The funds represent the third and final instalment of compensation for damage the Kingdom’s water, environment, wildlife, marine life and agriculture sustained in the aftermath of the first Gulf War.

“The funds will be transferred to the Kingdom in accordance with the Jordan Environmental Compensation Programme’s plan,” Minister of Environment Hazem Malhas said yesterday.

“The funds are currently deposited in an account especially for Jordan at the United Nations,” he said in a statement released by the ministry.

Malhas and head of the Jordan Environmental Compensations Programme Abdul Nabi Fardous discussed the compensation with representatives of the UNCC in Geneva during a visit scheduled to conclude today.

In 2005, the UNCC decided to grant Jordan $160 million in compensation for damage to its ecosystems during or after the war, in addition to $1.4 million to tackle the salinity of the country’s underground water basins.

The Kingdom has so far received $115 million of the total amount awarded by the UN, while the remaining funds are expected to be transferred once approved by the UNCC Governing Council later this month, Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The funds will be used to implement several development projects to revive the country’s Eastern Badia, which witnessed severe environmental degradation following the 1991 Gulf War.

One of the projects seeks to enhance living conditions in the badia, which is home to 6 per cent of the country’s population, by offering veterinary services and fodder to area residents.

Malhas said the project’s economic feasibility study and environmental impact assessment will start within a month, and will later be presented to the UNCC Governing Council for approval.

Once approved, implementation of the project will start before the end of this year, according to the statement.

The venture, among other initiatives, aims to offset degradation caused mainly by shepherds from neighbouring countries who entered Jordan following the Gulf War with millions of head of cattle that consumed pastures and scarce water resources.

The projects ultimately focus on returning the badia’s ecosystem to its status before 1990 and tackling the negative consequences of random grazing and wildlife deterioration, according to Environment Ministry officials.