Water Water Everywhere , Yeah No Drop to Drink
So as you (hopefully) know, I have been studying abroad in Amman Jordan for the year-- which is a desert country in the area that used to be known as Trans-Jordan, previously known as Greater Syria under the Ottoman Empire (now i get to be smart because of my history class).
Because of this, water scarcity is a very harsh reality . Within Amman, as well as other cities in Jordan, water is delivered weekly by a water truck that pumps water into giant water tanks that reside on the roof of the house/apartment. I'm still not really sure how many gallons- but usually enough to last through the week as long as you are careful and paying attention to your water intake (I've heard its around 22 gallons/day so do the math cause' lord knows that's not my strong suit). That means limiting showers, no dishwashers, limiting washing clothes, etc. The water isn't really suitable to drink either, mainly because of the rusty pipe networks and the fact that the water is sitting in a giant plastic cooler (hot in the sun... i need explain no further). However, brushing your teeth etc. no harm done, though if going to drink it, best boil it first.... We've run out of water once, because our toilet had a leak that needed to be fixed. (thankfully next day was water day, so mush muskila--no problem).
The situation of water scarcity is a real problem--one that Jordan has been dealing with and fighting for with its neighbors for a long time. The river Jordan runs through Jordan but also is the separating border between Jordan and Israel/Palestine and the river Yarmouk serves as its borders with Syria (the Yarmouk is a tributary of the Jordan River). Lake Tiberias (aka the Sea of Galilee) also lies between Israel, Jordan, and Syria near the Golan Heights. Because of this, disputes over ownership etc. are common, and many treaties have been attempted in the past to avoid conflict over water ownership/consumption rights between these three countries as well as with Lebanon. I had honestly never realized before how big a role water plays in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It's actually a pretty big part of it! I got to learn so much about this last semester with a course that I took called Environment and Politics of Water within the Middle East. It was very informative and eye-opening, and also a good median to learn about water-saving practices, and their extreme importance. My professor was very nice and wanted to make sure that we learned the most we could while we were in the region.
The UN has declared Jordan as one of the water-poorest countries, and so with this has thankfully come water subsidies. But there still is a lack of information spread about the importance of water and water consumption practices, so kidney disease, dehydration, and other water-related diseases are a problem here. Something that my Water Politics teacher was adamant on pointing out, was the fact that being such a water-poor country, a giant problem Jordan is facing is that many farmers are producing agriculture beyond the country's water capacity. Farmers here grow water-rich vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, bananas, mangos, peppers etc. that take way more water than other viable agricultural products. He would also then point out the fact that these water-rich plants would be sold to countries like Saudi Arabia at subsidized costs- basically meaning that they are exporting water, which they don't have enough of in the first place!
Right now Jordan is on the cusp of a breakthrough in developing better technology that will desalinate water in Aqaba to replenish water stores and aquifers in the region, but this is very costly.
Water is such a real human necessity and it is so eye-opening to experience this first hand. It's so easy to just hear information and file it under human rights or environmental problems in the back of our minds, versus actually living it out and witnessing it. I'm lucky because I live in a two person apartment, so we make water last between the two of us. Most families here average six to eight people, all sharing water, and even some apartment buildings share water between multiple apartments! It is very real, and sadly becoming a bigger reality for more and more people and countries as our environment faces so many changes and challenges. This is where we are all heading if we don't stop, realize, and do something about it now! Whether or not you believe in global warming, the facts are straight that fresh water is a finite resource, and if we're not careful we could use the majority of what's available to us (and not frozen in glaciers) up. So stop those 20 minute showers 2X's day! Don't waste water by leaving the water running, and save on water while you wash clothes and dishes! If you own a house, do some research on grey-water technology. Educate others and share the wealth of knowledge! There are programs out there to teach, but they are no where near as vocal and available as they should be! Whenever I brush my teeth I get this guilty feeling leaving the water running--not even because of my knowledge-- but because I start to hear the voices of my favorite childhood purple and green dinosaurs singing "Oh when I'm brushing my teeth and having so much fun, I never let the water run, no. I never let the water run". And it serves as such a good reminder--oh the joys, knowledge, and subliminal conditionings of Barney! But seriously! If you don't want to think, act! and then think! (cause' its important to understand and contemplate world disaster, and eventual problems that face future generations, but if you're not in the mindset then just at least begin good practice!) Also, as a little plug on my end check out Our Task inc. They're an amazing organization that focuses on environmental problems and the need for today's generation to do something about them!
If you'd ever like to hear more about the water issues between countries here in the Middle East (not too sure if the internet is a viable means of explaining or expressing my opinions within this...) then please, let me know! and we can have an enlightening conversation about it! Also, check out some of these links with facts about water issues- world/and jordan-style!
Hopefully this has been a little informative, and might get some of you to think more about your water consumption practices-- wait for my follow-up update on the ways I'll be making big-changes on this front when I get home!!! (and moma, papa, and cat-- GET READY :) )