Monday, March 17, 2014

Jordanian farmers face “driest season in decades”

IRIN: On the surface all looks well: the sky above southern Jordan is deep blue and the sun is shining over fields of wheat and barley. Some families are out playing in the fields and celebrating the first glimpse of spring.

But for farmers like Hatmal Halaseh, things are gloomy. “Winter is over and the land is still thirsty. It is looking like a very dry year,” said the 60-year-old as he wandered between the fields inherited from his grandparents and planted for the past four decades with wheat.

Jordan’s agriculture relies on the rain that falls heaviest in December and January. This year has been exceptionally dry. A statement by the Ministry of Water on 22 February warned that the country and the region as a whole are witnessing the “driest season in decades”.

The total rainfall in Jordan from the beginning of the 2013-2014 rainy season to the end of January 2014 is 2,608.8 million cubic metres (mcm) was almost 31.3 percent of the country’s long-term average annual precipitation, compared to 6,371 mcm, almost 76.6 percent, the previous year, the statement noted.

The ministry warns that the country’s dams hold only 43 percent of their total capacity of 325 mcm. Jordan’s is one of the world’s most water scarce countries, with an annual per capita water supply of 145 cubic metres - less than 15 percent of the UN defined 1,000 cubic metre “water poverty” line....

The Al-Wehda dam in Jordan and Syria, shot by Freedom's Falcon, public domain

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