As an arid and water-poor country, Jordan no doubt has a lot to think about as climate change looms over the region and threatens to disrupt everyday life. But the country isn’t twiddling its thumbs when it comes to apply new measures to combat the threat of global warming and its effects on agriculture.
King Abdullah II, who was joined by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, inaugurated a promising revegetation project in the coastal city of Aqaba in September, titled the Sahara Forest Project (SFP).
The innovative project seems more like its applying magic than science, because its turning desert into vegetables. By using seawater and clean energy, the project will use the desert to produce fresh water, energy and food. A solar-powered plant will be used to desalinate sea water for irrigation, which will fuel the growth of a variety of crops.
“It's impressive to see the ability of the Sahara Forest Project to produce food, fresh water and clean energy in an arid area,” Crown Prince Haakon, whose country donated $4.1 million to the project alongside funding from the EU, told the Jordan Times. “If public and private sectors can combine efforts to upscale the SFP here in Jordan, it could contribute to [efforts aimed to] combat climate change, create green jobs and solve important challenges for next generations of Jordanians.”
The project’s goal is to produce 130 tons of vegetables a year and 10,000 liters of freshwater a day.
“We are very proud to see the planned facility, four-times the size of a football field, become a reality here in Aqaba,” said Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki at a conference following the project’s inauguration. “And for that, we have our friends in Norway, the European Union, USAID, and the Grieg Foundation to thank.”
In addition to the production of food, fresh water and clean energy, the project will also create new job opportunities and promote entrepreneurship and scientific research thanks to the new technology being applied, according to the Bellona Foundation.
A study recently released by Stanford University projected that Jordan’s situation could become dire if climate change predictions occur. “A new analysis of drought in Jordan – one of the world’s most water-poor countries – suggests that without alternate water sources, better land use and improved water-sharing agreements, the country could face a future of potentially disastrous droughts,” according to Stanford researchers.
Aside from Jordan, the SFP is considering setting up new locations in Australia and Tunisia and has already completed a pilot in Qatar.
Photo credit: Anders Nyboe/Sahara Forest Project.