In August 2013 we visited Azraq Wetland Reserve in eastern Jordan. It was a heart wrenching experience as little is left of this once magnificent wetland.
The bright new visitor’s centre belies the sorry state of this ecological disaster. The aquifer dried up in 1992 following decades of exploitation by the government to provide Amman’s needs. Recent allocations of water are insufficient to win back the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds who visited the area until the 1970s or restore its original 25 km2.
Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has not yet achieved its aim of reaching 10% restoration, partly because of 500 illegal wells.
Pressure on water resources are bound to increase as Jordan is setting up a new refugee camp to take 80,000+ Syrians.
The story of Azraq is clearly an allegory for our struggling planet. If it isn’t clear enough then Wikipedia has more here.
Water scarcity and conflict over existing resources are a continuing part of the Middle East region. Israel and Jordan have continuing problems over the Jordan river and the Negev arabs struggle to get a share of water in their desert home.