The women combating desertification in Jordan
By Hayat Saad
Amman, Sep 19 (EFE).- In Jordan, one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, a group made up almost entirely of women has been fighting back against desertification by planting one seedling at a time.
“The community bet on our failure from the beginning, but now we are in our seventh year,” says Tahani al-Masaed, one of the women working in the initiative kicked off by the Wadi NGO to empower women and make them aware of environmental protection issues.
Al-Masaed, 30, works in Jordan’s Badia desert region, where she has managed to plant green in some areas after undergoing training in traditional agricultural techniques.
The organization transplants seedlings in greenhouses at a fraction of the economic and water cost of other plant nurseries and then replants them in areas to protect the soil and retain water.
In the process, they have found an affordable and viable option to grow economically, as well as to preserve and improve irrigation and groundwater conservation in Jordan.
The project started in 2016 with the help of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), but then it became independent and started financing itself by selling its seedlings to Jordanian institutions.
Tariq Abu Talib, Wadi director, tells Efe that the strategy the NGO follows has three aspects.
“First, the production stage uses only a third of the amount of water compared to traditional nurseries.
“Then we plant in the natural areas and they are irrigated only once, immediately after planting, which reduces the consumption of water.”
Finally, “partial rainwater harvesting techniques are used to allow rainwater to stay where it falls, eventually leading to aquifer recharge through land reclamation to prevent rainwater runoff.”
So far, over 1 million plant cuttings have been produced in the Wadi-supervised nurseries, with more than 900,000 planted in an area of only 317,033 hectares.
According to figures from the NGO, replanting has proved to be effective, with a success rate of 85%, while the volume of the water required for the plant cuttings they make is around 30 liters per unit, approximately 35% of what is required by other nurseries in the country.
Mesnat al-Hiyari, an expert from Jordan’s National Center for Agricultural Research, explains to Efe that these water harvesting techniques are among the most successful ways of conserving water and soil.
Although al-Masaed’s community did not believe in her abilities, today, it acknowledges her contribution to the preservation of the environment through this initiative.
“I was able to buy a house after living in a rented house with my husband and daughter,” says Reem, one of al-Masaed’s colleagues.
The 27-year-old woman living in Umm Hussein, one of Badia’s eastern regions, stresses that work has always been a priority for her to support her family, as well as provide a safe and stable home for them.
For the Wadi director, supporting women is an important factor in developing society.
The role of the NGO in empowering women is not only about providing them with a job opportunity, but also offering them training and activities that come in handy in their own nurseries, according to Abu Talib. EFE