Strange Math In Jordan Lately

Yet slightly expected…

“The richest 30% of the population controls around 60% of the total income” [source]

Meanwhile, the poorest 30% possesses only 11% of total income. Something to think about.

“Agriculture consumes 65% of available water, while its economic return on the GDP stands at 3%” [source]

If we were major exporters of say, bananas or watermelon, then I would probably argue in favor of having so much water allocated to the agricultural sector. But we’re not. There is instead a reliance on the “we’re a water-poor, resource-barren” country attitude that has gotten us no where except to bad-aid-ville, over and over again. Yes, we have little water, but there is massive, massive, massive mismanagement when it comes to this field, because we’re still acting like a country with no water problems instead of one that is striving to save every drop. Forget about wasting water on a dying agricultural sector, what about the industrial and service sector; how much water is wasted there? Are hotels and tourism complexes and licensed skyscrapers adhering to any unique set of strict water codes and regulations the likes of which only Jordan could envision? No. Instead they’re allowing a country like Jordan to open up water parks and golf courses. That helps explain how 51% of our water is wasted.

A new attitude in public policy needs to be taken, and a new water-conserving culture in society needs to be developed; otherwise, mismanagement will hang us all out to dry.


  • The first stat is not as bad as I expected..A more informative one would give what the richest 1% or 10% controlled.

    On a side note, I think that the idustry sector is ready to move from the ICU to the morgue..Did you take a look at the new tax laws? Oh, and now expats that send almost 2.5 billion a year will have to pay a 10% tax..

  • If you want to be really enraged, I recommend a visit to the Abdoun Starbucks for an afternoon coffee. Sit upstairs with a view of the drive-through. Every day or two a Starbucks employee comes out and sprays the garbage off the driveway and into a little manhole with a pressurized hose. One day I watched him take aim at a single, stubborn cigarette butt for about 5 minutes.

    As for agriculture, Jordan needs to stop producing water-intensive crops like bananas… but these growers are a powerful constituency and they need to be given politically feasible incentives to start producing other crops.

  • mohanned: the new tax law are a death tax, and this is to say nothing of the WTO provisions that will expire in 2010, which tax income for local exporters. My personal perspective is that there is a move to destroy local industry for a preferred environment whereby multinationals setup shop in Jordan.

    AMP: what’s more enraging is that you actually go to Abdoun Starbucks everyday! dude! 😀

  • hmm i don’t know what to make of this but the information here is either obfuscated or just not accurate.
    like mohanned said, the more indicative indicator is the highest 10% which makes more than 30% of the GDP of jordan. as for the water consumption the figure is highly suspect because agr as you said composed 3.5% out of the GDP and 5% of the work force so logic dictates that it can’t take the 65% they mentioned, so after a lil digging the figure that is more accurate is closer to 30% but those studies are dated (97-02).

    The idea that local agriculture production is useless and wasteful is an IMF mythology and in the current and coming atmosphere there needs to be emphasis on supporting local agriculture especially in the grains and seed for national consumption rather than focus on exportable goods as is the case now. since that will help ease the cost burn that we are experiencing now. and the first thing to tackle in regard to our water woes is the wastefulness in usage which constitutes upwards of 50% of our water consumption and that is the first thing to tackled. (IMHO) (just for the record water used for parks and golf courses while might an exuberant use of water but it might not be wasteful, while failing infrastructure and unregulated irrigation and water consumption and lack of standards is )


  • bambam: the numbers are probably obfuscated as we should always factor in a wide margin of error when it comes to math and jordan’s public sector.

    but i disagree with your reference to the “IMF mythology”. i understand the need for an emphasis on homegrown food, especially in light of an emerging global food crisis, but then again that’s the key word: global. we are talking about Jordan lifting subsidies and opening up its market to the global, and more specifically the regional, foodbasket in the past 10 years. we no longer have a competitive or even comparative advantage when it comes to exporting food. I think the agricultural sector isn’t something that needs to be shut down, but heavily tweaked in order to suit the internal realities of this country.

    to take the israel example: research facilities in universities there spent a great deal of time, energy and money in developing offspring of plants such as banana and apple trees that consume less water and can grow more easily and less demanding in the negev desert. those very trees are being sold in the Jordan valley right now, but at a higher price than the Jordanian variety. this is an example of ingenuity being utilized to suit the realities of a country with little water, and we have less water than they do. this is just an example of what i’m talking about, which also highlights the point AMP made in her comment above.

    my reference to parks and golf courses is merely an example of something that is present and apparent on a public scale. you are of course right, the larger problem is with general mismanagement as I mentioned in my post.

    always enjoy your comments! 🙂

  • thanks, i guess the difference in viewpoint here is that i’m looking at sustainability and you are looking at profitability (i won’t even touch on that israel tangent because of many reasons, but did u happen to pass by the national institute of agricultural science and research in tafeeleh ? its a wonder to behold, i presume they are still researching grafting techniques). pre-script this will be fairly long

    When it comes to the matter of basic food items (grains) the IMF fought for deregulation and lower national grain reserves to enable free market mechanics to take place as they have imagined. that caused the local governments to have less of an ability to handle shocks ( evident by the reaction egypt had to the sharp increase in commodities pricing by closing off all of its exports). if that is a short term spike or that its not going to be a sustainable reality then yes profit maximizing would be the plan.
    The reality of things (again IMHO) is that commodities are the new stocks so the sharp increase in prices is mainly caused by speculation (along other factors). under that scenario governments need to look at sustainability when it comes to basic agricultural commodities since we are looking at a long term turbulent market environment (est. decade atleast) so there is a need to subsidies farmers to produce local primary needs, otherwise you’ll be looking at another element of unrest (remember haiti and egypt). so under those circumstances the price for producing to meet the local needs (again i focus on production for local consumption rather than exports) will be cheaper than the imports if you factor all of the different variables because its an equation of sustainability rather than profitability. (yes i know how it sounds like …. that evil S word thingy, and yes i know that i have a higher chance of being reborn than seeing this happen …. sadly …. and the solution to ever woe is tax away … so its never about sustainability and its all about free market economy…. enough rambling since foam bubbles are filling up the room by now)
    Q: are we there yet ?

  • Naseeeeem , This has nothing to do with the post. Yallah update your header 😀 . Fee kaman Jordanian artists ? Or maybe new stuff from Faridoon? Or oh oh oh pictures from the Jordan festival? Or maybe not on the last one.

    Yallaaaaaaaah 😀 .

  • What bambam said has a lot of truth to it..Thats the school of milton friedman.And what thomas friedman termed creative destruction;the faster you destroy old rules,systems, and even industries, the more integrated you become in the global system..The merits of this argument is beyond the scope of this post..But we are just another research endeavor.

  • I just haveto add that I find it impossible to believe that there are no regulations as to what private consumers can use water for… In the US, when my home state of Alabama had droughts (meaning they only got 15 INCHES of rain instead of 25 in a SEASON) they put in place measures making it illegal to water your lawn. Imagine an Amman without Egyptian guards using water to move the dust around the sidewalks… Imagine an Amman where people began to conserve and use grey water (bath water, kitchen water, etc.) to water plants and wash cars. Imagine with me, actually trying on an individual level to use our water wisely… Cue music.

  • i cannot believe seriously a school teacher in saudi arabia working his ass off to save money to send to his mother back home, and battling crazy inflation in the gulf and soaring rents, just got hit like that by a 10% tax!! why? to fund a government that wants to maintain a standard level of wasteness when everything doubled in price! this is disgusting to say the least…..

    and meanwhile they reduced the highest band of income tax in jordan from 25% to 20%!!! so u make millions in stocks and land u pay less income tax now, but they hit the poor teacher in saudi!

  • P.S: The 10% tax on expats’ income was denied by the government and was attributed to a misunderstanding on the part of the journalists who reported it.

  • besides i dont buy that “mistake” story to be honest, since when did journalists in jordan in 3 newspapers all make the same interpretation mistake! i think it was the govt feeling out the reaction which was of overwhelming anger……taxing people pushed to leave they country a couple of weeks after parliament members increased their salaries to 2500….u have no idea how many “if this is true am giving up the citizenship” i heard today!

  • and to rub salt on the wound, this is from today’s paper:

    اشترت الحكومة مؤخراً بيتاً جديداً للسفير الأردني في واشنطن تبلغ قيمته 5 ملايين دولار. البيت الجديد يقع في محيط العاصمة وليس في الضواحي, كما بيت السفير الحالي في ماكلين في ولاية فرجينيا التي يفصلها نهر عن العاصمة التي تقع في مقاطعة كولومبيا والتي يبلغ عدد سكانها قرابة مليون شخص. لم تقرر الحكومة ما تنوي أن تفعله في البيت القديم إلا أن هناك توجهاً للاستفادة منه كمشروع استثماري لكبر مساحته ولموقعه. منزل السفير ليس ببعيد عن سفارات أخرى وعن منزل نائب الرئيس الأميركي ديك تشيني.

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