Johanna Montanari – Sep 07,2019

AMMAN — The King Talal Dam agriculture project is preparing for the planting season, scheduled to begin in October, according to an official at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

“The aim is to again plant 15,000 trees along the borders of the dam until the end of the year,” Rayan Yaghi, the Livelihoods Project Manager at the NRC Jordan told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is an independent humanitarian organisation working in 31 countries. Thanks to its King Talal Dam agriculture project, the area around the dam is set to be the “lungs for the north”, according to the NRC website.

While the trees that once dominated northern Jordan are gradually disappearing, the agriculture project is reinvigorating the area in order to protect the water reservoir through labour-intensive activities providing cash for work opportunities for displaced Syrians working side by side with Jordanians, according to Yaghi.

The NRC has been running the project since December 2017 with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit and with the Royal Botanical Garden, which is located next to King Talal dam, as a technical partner.

The project manager said that the project activities included fencing the area around the Royal Botanical Garden and creating “some kind of natural fence” by planting trees all along the fence to protect the Royal Botanical Garden from uncontrolled grazing and herding as well as to prevent soil erosion.

“One of the biggest problems that the dams here in Jordan are facing is soil erosion,” Yaghi noted, adding that every year a large amount of soil is going into the dam, which reduces the capacity of the dam to hold water.

“So part of our solution was to plant trees around the dam. When you plant trees, the soil will stick together because of the tree’s roots and this will reduce the soil erosion,” the project manager said.

During the floods in March 2019, a few plant nurseries near the dam were flooded and the project lost large number of seedlings, Yaghi recounted.

“We had to stop working for several days because of the heavy rain during that time,” Yaghi said.

So far, the project is funded until end of this year, according to Yaghi.