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News ID: 89953
Publish Date : 07 May 2021 - 20:50
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AMMAN (AFP) – Experts say Jordan is now in the grip of one of the most severe droughts in its history, but many warn the worst is yet to come.
The environment ministry says Jordan is among the world’s most water-deficient countries, and fears that a warming planet will make the situation more severe.
"The increased temperatures and lower precipitation resulting from climate change would adversely affect crops and water availability,” the ministry says, in its National Climate Change Policy.
Mean annual temperature is expected to increase by two degrees Celsius, and rainfall cut by a fifth by 2050, according to projections used by the World Bank.
On a nearby nine-hectare (22-acre) farm, 43-year-old Ibrahim Dgheimat sits in his pickup, overwhelmed by the heat. He watches as several women pick beans.
"Normally, I grow peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and cabbage,” he said, and added "But this year, the lack of water destroyed two-thirds of my crops.”
The financial losses have been heavy – as much as $42,000.
"I don’t have any way to pay the workers,” Dgheimat said.
To make matters worse, prices of produce slumped after exports dropped by a fifth last year due to coronavirus-related border closures.
The pandemic has also hit big customers like hotels and restaurants hard.
Daoud, born in Jordan to Pakistani parents – who like thousands of compatriots arrived in the 1960s onwards, many of them en route to pilgrimage in Mecca in neighboring Saudi Arabia – says all he can do is torch the failed crop.
"Five months of work is going to go up in smoke,” says Daoud, who works with his brothers and their children.
Beyond crop irrigation, the drought could reduce access to drinking water, too.
Jordan needs about 1.3 billion cubic meters of water per year, but the quantities available are around 850 to 900 million cubic meters, with the shortfall "due to low rainfall, global warming, population growth and successive refugee inflows,” head of communications at the water and irrigation ministry Omar Salameh said.
This year, the reserves of the three drinking water dams have reached critical levels, now just a third of their normal capacity.
At the same time, household water consumption has surged by 10 percent since the start of the pandemic, as people stay home amid restrictions.
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