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New projects to improve living conditions of badia residents

By Hana Namrouqa - Oct 21,2014 - Last updated at Oct 21,2014

AMMAN — Pastoral shrubs will be planted in the northern and central badia and rainwater harvesting projects will be implemented in the area under seven agreements signed on Tuesday to support livestock breeders.

The ministries of environment and agriculture, the Jordanian Cooperative Association, the National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension, and a number of livestock breeders’ societies in the badia signed the agreements.

Under the agreements, worth JD1.674 million, several projects will be implemented to improve the living conditions of local communities in the badia, Environment Minister Taher Shakhshir said at the signing ceremony.

“The projects entail planting pastoral shrubs, setting up rainwater harvesting projects, soil preservation, and distribution of improved breeds of sheep to livestock breeders’ societies and underprivileged families in the badia,” Shakhshir added.

In addition, badia residents and livestock breeders will receive milking, fodder packaging and barley cultivation machines, the minister said, underscoring that a livestock market will also be established in the badia.

“The agreements seek to provide badia-residents with income-generating projects to improve their living conditions and rehabilitate the badia at the same time,” Shakhshir noted.

The ministry signed similar agreements in August with a number of livestock breeders’ societies in the southern badia.

Under the agreements, the ministry said it will finance projects for dairy and fodder production, provide livestock breeders with veterinary services, training and awareness, as well as barley and improved livestock, free of charge.

The agreements are funded by the environmental compensation granted to Jordan by the United Nation Compensation Committee (UNCC).

The terrestrial ecosystems of the Jordanian badia were severely damaged following the 1991 Gulf war, when masses of refugees and their livestock — estimated at 1.8 million sheep, goats and camels — crossed the borders and stayed in the country for several months.

In 2005, the UNCC decided to grant Jordan $160.5 million in compensation for damage incurred by the Kingdom’s water, environment, wildlife, marine life and agriculture sectors in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, in addition to $1.4 million to tackle the salinity of the country’s underground water basins.

The funds are being used to support projects that focus on returning the badia’s ecosystem to its status before 1990 and tackling the negative consequences of random grazing and wildlife deterioration.

The Badia Restoration Programme focuses on improving the area’s vegetation cover and biodiversity, providing veterinary services for livestock, managing pastures, introducing water harvesting techniques and cultivating fodder.

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