By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Water, fodder and veterinary services will be provided to herders in the eastern badia under a $2-million agreement signed by the ministries of environment and agriculture on Monday.

Several projects will be implemented in the area as part of a pilot project designed to rehabilitate pastures and support livestock breeding in a bid to save the area from environmental degradation and improve bedouins’ livelihoods.

Authorities will provide livestock breeders in the eastern badia with enough barley to feed about 50,000 heads of ruminants for 48 days, (1.5 kilogrammes per day per head), according to the agreement.

Minister of Environment Nasser Shraideh, who signed the agreement with Minister of Agriculture Tayseer Smadi, noted that providing breeders with their needs of fodder will give natural pastures in the eastern badia a chance for self-recovery.

“We will give herders the barley as an incentive in order to support livestock breeders, enhance their livelihoods, improve animal production and stop random grazing by giving pastures time to grow,” Shraideh told reporters during the signing ceremony.

The pilot project also entails vaccinating small ruminants against common diseases, protecting the watershed for natural recovery of degraded rangeland and implementing water harvesting projects in the eastern badia.

In a bid to increase the area’s green cover, 1,500 dunums will be planted with endogenous fodder shrubs under micro-catchment water harvesting techniques in Rweished and Safawi, according to the agreement.

Fodder cultivation in Rweished and Safawi will be irrigated from dams to be constructed with a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres of water.

The project, among other pilot projects, will be funded by the environmental compensation granted to Jordan by the United Nation Compensation Committee (UNCC) for the badia’s severe environmental degradation following the 1991 Gulf War.

The terrestrial ecosystems of the Jordanian badia were severely damaged after masses of refugees and their livestock, estimated at 1.8 million sheep, goats and camels, crossed the borders and stayed in the country for several months.

In 2005, the UNCC decided to grant Jordan $160.5 million in compensation for damages incurred by the Kingdom’s water, environment, wildlife, marine life and agriculture in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, in addition to $1.4 million to tackle the salinity of the country’s underground water basins.

The funds will be used to support projects that focus on returning the badia’s ecosystem to its pre-1990 status and tackle the negative consequences of random grazing and wildlife deterioration.