By JT – Jun 06,2017

Jordan was ranked the 10th most polluted country in the world (among 115 countries ranked) and the second most polluted in the Arab world, according to the website (File photo)

AMMAN — Pollution and desertification have a disproportionate impact on women and children, the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) argued, as new figures ranked Jordan as the 10th most polluted country in the world.

The Kingdom is the 10th most polluted country globally (among 115 countries ranked) and the second most polluted in the Arab world, a SIGI statement released on Tuesday said.

Citing the website, SIGI said that Jordan received 85.73 points regarding environmental pollution, while Egypt received 88.88 points. Libya received the best ranking among Arab countries and the 84th rank globally with 45.30 points.

The statement was issued on the occasion of World Environment Day, marked annually on June 5, in accordance with UN resolution 2994/27.

Jordan faces many environmental problems, including desertification, waste, lack of water resources, industrial waste and air pollution, SIGI said, adding that the issues of women, environment and climate change are addressed in the Jordanian Woman National Strategy 2013-2017.

The general goal of the strategy, the statement continued, is to build the capacities and knowledge of women, in order to preserve the environment through active participation in the policy and decision-making processes related to the environment and climate change.

Women have an “important and vital role to play” in dealing with desertification, yet they are negatively affected by the increasing amount of lands facing this form of environmental degradation, SIGI said.

The problem is especially acute in dry areas, because those lands lose their productive abilities, which in turn affects food supply and increases rates of hunger around the world, with 70 per cent of those affected being women, the statement added.

Dry lands comprise 40 per cent of the world’s land, with a third of the world’s population living on these lands, SIGI said, adding that the world loses 20,000 to 50,000 square kilometres of land each year due to environmental degradation.

Around 2.6 billion people depend directly on agriculture, the statement added.

Desertification and dryness affect women and children since women are the last to leave their lands that became dry, striving to protect and preserve them from desertification to preserve their livestock and living places.

A United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) document from 2005 also stressed the direct link between desertification, land degradation, drought and issues of gender and women’s rights.

Explaining that rates of women’s ownership of land in dry land countries are extremely low, the document explained that “in such communities, women’s access to critical resources is mediated by relationships with men. This places female-headed households at an even greater disadvantage”.

The UNCCD report also explored the consequences of men from traditionally pastoral communities being forced to migrate to urban areas, leaving women behind and altering the gendered division of responsibilities within communities and families.

“When men migrate, women take on the additional roles of cash crop and livestock production and marketing, and become providers of security for the young and aged. This increases women’s workload and responsibilities, even as it enables them to become key decision-makers at the household level,” the report said.