Friday, December 10, 2010

Dead Waters

Whenever there is drought in Jordan, people pray for rain. Praying for rain in Jordan is like praying for God to cure your cancer after it had already spread to your brain. It was never the solution, nor will it be the solution in the future. I'm not talking about praying, I'm talking about the rain. Praying, even though scientifically will not improve the chance of raining, is a good opportunity for people to meet together for a good cause, so I'm all for it. But more rain doesn't sound like the solution to the water shortage we have been suffering from since the foundation of our country.

Khalil Nasrallah was a young Lebanese boy living in Lebanon when the civil war erupted in Lebanon. His father had to move to Egypt with the family to save his business. Khalil then went to Canada to study, got a degree and went back to Egypt in the early 1990s. He realized that Egypt did not have good-quality domestic olive oil, and decided to start a business producing olive oil. In order to start the business, he had to go the middle of the desert, in the sand, spend a fortune to dwell wells in order to find water for his olive trees. All that came at a big risk of failing, but he was smart and successful and somewhat lucky. He co-founded Wadi Foods, which is now a massive company in Egypt that produces healthy food at an affordable cost. To this day he is still using the water from the wells he dwelt nearly 20 years ago.

The Jordanian government, for a long time, has not been always serious about the water crisis our country had always faced. A lot of bureaucracy and stubbornness delayed Al Wahda project with Syria for years, eventually the project seemed to even create more problems with our Arab neighbor. (Check this NPR story from 2007). You can drive by Jordan River nowadays and not recognize it because it has dried up for the most part. The Eastern Ghour water channel was a disaster. The majority of Jordanians do not get water for most days of the week, and it's sometimes unpredictable on which days they'll be getting it. We had a scandal of contaminated water that cost prime minister Abdul Salam Al-Majali his position. (Check this Hajjaj cartoon), and we always blame the weather, Syria, Israel, money and the common man for the never-ending crisis.

Only recently did we hear some good news. The US committed 275 million dollars to help Jordan improve its water supply, and you know well, that when 275 million dollars are donated for a good cause, all the money allocated will be spent on the intended project. It's expected that the Disi project will be completed in 2012, and it will supply Amman with more than a 100 million cubic meters of water every year. Sure it is contaminated by radioactive Uranium , but that doesn't matter, because as a good Jordanian citizen you're supposed to believe what the government tells you instead of those Westerner scientists in Yale and other Jewish universities.

I am still inspired by the story of Khalil Nasrallah, because he is a individual, just one person, with an age close to mine, who dug water out of nowhere, just to produce olive oil. That's all what he wanted, water for his olive trees. I believe if Mr. Nasrallah was able to do so, our Jordanian government can do much better than that. Digging for water is better than digging for oil, at least if you look for the future.


jaraad said...

Nasrallah's story is an interesting one. Never heard of him before.
Facts: 1) Jordan is one of the poorest countries in the world in water resources. 2)This is not a temporary problem. 3) The problem is getting worse year after year.
Now, what I don't understand is with a problem of such magnitude why the country is not working day and night to find some possible resolutions. Why not dedicating a a research institute just for the sake of this issue only. The water problem in Jordan should be the government's top priority. I think neighboring countries have enough problems for Jordanians to immigrate to in case we ran out of drinking water.

Hareega said...

Jaraad, here's a one-hour interview with Khalil Nasrallah on NPR, pretty amazing

Forget about the water problem, for the next 2 weeks we have to focus on the Faisali Wehdat incident

jaraad said...

Thanks for the link. I like NPR programs.
It seems we should start saying about these football games Palestinians vs. Jordanians.

Anonymous said...

good post. only comment is that i'd put lucky first in the nasrallah story... he was lucky, smart and therefore successful.

London said...

a7laaa Hareega