By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Thirteen desert dams with a total storage capacity of 80,000 cubic metres will be established in the northeastern badia by 2012 for the rehabilitation of damaged badia ecosystems, according to officials.

The desert dams and ponds are part of a project for the rehabilitation of natural pastures in the northeastern desert that entails establishing water harvesting schemes in five watersheds, according to Minister of Environment Taher Shakhshir.

The dams will be used for watering around 400,000 heads of livestock in the northeastern badia and irrigating 1,500 dunums of land planted with fodder, he noted.

The $2.207 million project is funded by the environmental compensation granted to the Kingdom by the United Nations Compensation Committee (UNCC) and will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

In 2005, the UNCC decided to grant Jordan $160.5 million in compensation for damage incurred by the country’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 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.

“The ministry is going ahead with the Badia Restoration Programme to improve living conditions of local communities in the badia as well as the area’s ecological systems,” Shakhshir underscored.

The Badia Restoration Programme focuses on improving the area’s vegetation cover and biodiversity, providing veterinary services for livestock, managing pastures, introducing water harvesting techniques and cultivating fodder.

Ministry of Environment Spokesperson Isa Shboul said the land planted with fodder will be managed by the local communities to generate job opportunities.

He noted that the project will also be implemented in collaboration with 75 cooperative societies in the badia. ”