Abu Waleed isn’t quite sure where to begin his litany of grievances. Bugs that chomp their way through the mint he grows, or the dry well that forces him to pump water from a half kilometre away? Or perhaps the 160 dinars he spent on spinach seeds only to see scant growth after planting.
For the small community of farmers in the Zarqa river basin east of the capital Amman, industrial development, poor resource management and climate change have converged to create a perfect storm of problems that damage farmers’ produce and livelihoods and ultimately threaten food security in Jordan.
The Jordanian government and organisations from local NGOs to U.N. agencies are taking baby steps to mitigate the effects of climate change, but Abu Waleed and other farmers say these efforts are not enough.
Others suggest that while climate change exacerbates existing environmental problems in Jordan, the core of mitigation lies not in tackling climate change but in improving how Jordan consumes and manages the scant resources it does have.
Among the driest countries in the world, Jordan has an average of 145 cubic metres of water available per person annually (the water poverty line is 500 cubic metres). Its average annual precipitation is 111 millimetres.
Prime areas for agricultural cultivation, such as rain-fed areas, are shrinking, in part because of urbanisation and development. Between 1975 and 2007, according to research by Dr. Awni Taimeh from the University of Jordan, grain-cultivating areas decreased by 65 percent and vegetable-cultivating areas by 91 percent.
Farmers in Abu Waleed’s area have meanwhile noticed changes in weather in recent years. Along with a decrease in rainfall, temperatures have risen, leading to more pests and bugs and shifting growing seasons. They are calling on the government to help mitigate these effects. Some in the government too admit that it needs to do more.
Hussein Badarin from Jordan’s Ministry of Environment has worked in climate change policy for nearly two decades. He told IPS “there’s not enough coordination” among individuals and institutions working on climate change, A government ministry may for example need data that a university researcher has been compiling, yet neither knows the other exists.
For the complete article, please see Inter Press Service.