by Muath Freij | Feb 07, 2013

IRBID — Every day, Nour Obeidat’s family members have fresh vegetables and fruit on their table — the product of their very own roof garden, cultivated with enthusiasm and irrigated by stored rainwater.

“I have my own greenhouse on the roof of my home. My children are very enthusiastic about the initiative and planted some of the vegetables and fruits. They wake up early every morning to check on their work,” Obeidat told The Jordan Times in a recent interview at his house. Obeidat is one of several residents of Hartha, 106 kilometres to the north of Amman, who benefited from the USAID-funded Community-Based Initiative for Water Demand Management, implemented by Mercy Corps from 2006 through 2013.

The project works directly at the local level to improve water-use efficiency by promoting citizen participation within rural communities to address water demand and conservation issues, according to a USAID statement.

It includes providing grants to competitively selected community-based organisations to support households to develop and implement water saving/efficiency projects.

The initiative also includes implementing pilot projects in integrated water and energy resource management at the community level.

Mohammad Bani Mustafa, Mercy Corps team leader, said the project entails providing charitable societies with revolving loans to conserve water — by implementing rainwater harvesting — and change the way of irrigation.

“A total of 135 societies across the Kingdom have benefited from the project. The initiative also addresses water scarcity,” he told The Jordan Times.

Nour said it took him three days to build the greenhouse at his home, adding that he began cultivating it one week later.

Bani Mustafa noted that Nour’s JD4,000 project consists of four elements.

“Obeidat managed… to do rainwater harvesting by storing water in barrels, plant whatever he wants, breed fish and receive a free energy source,” he told The Jordan Times.

Bani Mustafa said Nour uses the fish to provide organic fertilisers for the igneous rocks.

The amateur farmer said he plants his greenhouse in accordance with the season.

“For example, one of the fruits I plant during winter is strawberries. By the end of the year, I believe that I can get 300 kilos of fruit and vegetables,” the 42-year-old noted added that he also enjoys free heating thanks to the project.

“When the temperature reaches 26ºC in the greenhouse, the heat is directed to my living room,” the father of seven explained.

Baha Obeidat, another project beneficiary, said he now has a permanent water source by storing rainwater instead of having to go out to buy water.

“I have a well that can collect around 36 cubic metres. It can serve me for a lifetime,” he told The Jordan Times.

Mahmoud Obeidat, head of the Hartha Charitable Society, said around 90 wells were built within the project to collect water in the village of Hartha, which has a population of around 6,000.

“Village residents are really interested in benefiting from the project. People who want to be part of it contact the society,” he said.

“We help the ones who can pay back the loan we provide,” Mahmoud added, noting that beneficiaries pay JD30 a month for a period of 30 months.

The Hartha Elementary Girls School has also benefited from the initiative.

The school implemented a rainwater harvesting project last year, which significantly improved the water situation, according to its principal, Hind Obeidat.

“Around 235 students benefited from the project, which included constructing a well to collect water,” she said, noting that the school used to receive water one day a week.

Hind added that students also use the stored water to irrigate the school’s garden.

“Students plant the garden with the supervision of the teachers. The school mainly depends on olive trees, selling the produce and using the money to renovate the facilities. This season, we made around JD400,” she said.