The need for addressing the WEFE Nexus in Jordan

The need for addressing the WEFE Nexus in Jordan

The need for addressing the WEFE Nexus in Jordan

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With a surface of 89,318 km square, Jordan is a small country of the Middle East. Jordan is poor of natural resources and 78.4% of its area is semi desert. Jordan is among the most water poorest country of the world.

In 2021, population was around 11 millions inhabitants and is growing at sustained rate. The massive inflow of refugees (estimated to reach almost 3 million individuals in 2017), as a consequence of the civil war in Syria has been further straining on the scarce resources of the country.

Energy security is a further reason of concern: The energy market in Jordan is clearly dominated by oil products, followed by natural gas, which needs to be imported. Renewable energy, which is mostly represented by solar electricity generation, has been increasing its importance from less than 1% in 2010 to reach a share of 13% of total primary energy supply in 2019.

The Jordanian economy is suffering from the regional political instability and the COVID-19 pandemic hit it while it was slowly recovering from the consequences of the Arab Spring and of the 2009 financial crisis.

Climate change is also affecting the country hard: already scare precipitation patterns are decreasing and extreme events are becoming more frequent. This is among else further aggravating income instability of farmers: with a GDP contribution of less than 4% of GDP and Jordan is a net food-importing country (as 98% of consumable items are imported, among which also basic crops such as wheat and barley.

All of this highlights the importance of addressing the Nexus between Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystem.

In this context, the Wadi Mujib basin is an area of interest: it the most important water reservoir for the country. It is located in the central part of Jordan with a watershed area of 6727 km2. With average rainfall varying from 70 mm to 350 mm, the basin can be classified from semi-arid to arid. Precipitations have significantly dropped over the last 30 years and the basin is increasingly suffering from extreme events, such as flash floods. The total annual discharge of the Wadi Mujib river is estimated at 84 MCM/y. The two major dams, Mujib dam and Walah Dam, have reservoir capacities of 30 MCM respectively 8 MCM. Groundwater is used for domestic purposes in Karak and Madaba cities and other areas (e.g., Amman), for industrial uses, and, last, for irrigation. The basin hosts industrial and mining activities like phosphate and potash industry, consuming approximately 6 MCM and 12 MCM of water. There are no major cities in the basin.

The Wadi Mujib basin is also a very relevant area for Jordan in regard to ecosystem and biodiversity conservation: it namely hosts two biospheres, Dead Sea Biosphere (located in the eastern shore of the Dead Sea) and Mujib Biosphere reserve (located along the river beds north of Karak), which has an altitude of 410 meters below sea level and is herewith the worldwide lowest natural reserve. This points to the fact that the basin is also relevant for the touristic activities related to the biospheres, as well as to the Dead Sea coast, which host numerous hotels and touristic resorts.

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