by Hana Namrouqa

Jul 15, 2012

AMMAN — Fifteen desert dams with a total capacity of two million cubic metres will be established in the northeastern badia by 2013 to provide local communities with permanent water resources, according to officials.

The desert dams will be established under two agreements signed on Sunday between the ministries of environment and water and irrigation, with the aim of rehabilitating damaged badia ecosystems and introducing water harvesting schemes in the arid area.

The agreements, worth around JD2.150 million, will raise the efficiency of rainwater harvesting and also rehabilitate several artesian wells to supply local communities and their livestock with water, according to the officials.

“The desert dams and rehabilitated wells will be used for agricultural purposes and for watering livestock. In addition, water from the wells will be desalinated and treated in the northeastern badia for drinking purposes,” Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohamad Najjar said on Sunday.

The desert dams and ponds are part of a project for the rehabilitation of natural pastures in the northeastern desert.

The agreements are funded by the environmental compensation granted to the Kingdom by the United Nations Compensation Committee (UNCC).

In 2005, the UNCC awarded Jordan $160.5 million in compensation for damage incurred to 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 address the negative consequences of random grazing and wildlife deterioration.
“The Badia Restoration Programme is progressing according to schedule and so much achievement can be seen on the ground… several projects will also be implemented in the badia in the future, including projects to improve veterinary services,” Environment Minister Yaseen Khayyat said during Sunday’s signing ceremony.

Khayyat underscored that several other agreements will be signed within the next two months with different ministries and local institutions to rehabilitate the badia’s ecosystems, increase its green cover, improve the productivity of pastures and raise the efficiency of livestock production.

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.