There’s no doubt about it, the talk of the town, if not the country this past weekend, has been about the “bad” weather, which in dry Jordan is actually considered good weather by the majority. Rain has been avoiding this little Kingdom like a kid avoids asparagus. Watching those meteorological reports these past few weeks it seems rain has touched ground in even the driest of cities in the region and just when it was approaching Jordan, it would take a sudden detour, snubbing us in the process. It is kind of ironic since the gift of natural resources, including oil, seems to have graced everyone near us except us, and now the same goes with natural phenomena like rain.
In any case. Everyone has been praying for rain – sometimes literally – and it has arrived. Rejoice. In fact, it’s even started to snow and the schools are all closed today. It’s doubtful that the snow will “stick” around, so to speak, but nevertheless, the point of this particular post is not a mere weather report.
I often wonder about how much water we waste in this country. We are one of the fourth poorest water nation in the world and we rarely act like it. If anything, we often find ourselves living and behaving as if we have an abundance of water. Yes, we have a bunch of dams, some which remain relatively empty throughout the year, but much of our water comes through neighboring nations who we often do not get along with. In other words, Jordan is a country that controls little of its water destiny.
Here in hilly Amman, the geography of the city gives you the opportunity to see just how much is wasted, especially with every street overflowing with water. In some cases, like Ras il-Ein, water descends from every surrounding hill and floods the streets, turning City Hall in to an island, if not a basin, if only temporarily. While granted, we don’t have a “flooding” problem like some countries do, our street are flooded, if only temporarily, partly due to geography and partly due to questionable infrastructure.
But that being said, I’m reminded of the fact that in Jordan it usually rains for about one week of the year. Perhaps all together, we are lucky enough to get 10 days of full-impact rain. Yet, for a country as dry as Jordan, are we doing all we can to capture that rain fall?
In Petra, the Nabateans etched an irrigation system in to every hill, so that when it did rain, anything falling from the top of the hill would find its way to a reserve. Nearly every hill in that stone city in the middle of the desert, has an engraved drain pipe running along the side of each hill. The same can be said of Wadi Rum, where even in the middle of a desert you can find a prehistoric water well that still collects water from surrounding mountains to this day using the same technique.
And I think to myself, if these “ancient civilizations”, the supposed fore-fore-fathers of this land knew how precious water is and that every drop mattered, why don’t we? If they managed to create something that simple in order to harness it, why is so much of our rain water being wasted?
My emphasis here is on rain water, so I am putting aside all the other ways in which we, as a country, as a government and as a people are wasteful when it comes to water.
Yes, feasibility comes into question. Yet, I’m pretty positive that if the Japanese lived here instead of us, you would see the most sophisticated technology being utilized to capture every drop. It’s one of the most common things in Jordan to see people open their rooftop water tanks when it rains to collect rain water. I’ve even seen buckets being used.
And in the context of a country that not only gets little rain, but lacks any control over its water destiny – in its geopolitical context – maybe the state should consider implementing a completely innovative solution or system instead of waiting for the western world to think of one before we copy it several decades later.
Necessity is the mother of invention, isn’t it?