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June 17th marks the 2021 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which will focus on turning degraded land into healthy land. In Jordan, the Drought Vulnerability Assessment (UNDP 2018) revealed that approximately 2.5 million people of the northwest governorates of Ajloun, Irbid, and Jerash are extremely vulnerable to drought due to their high sensitivity and exposure and their low adaptive capacity. The occurrence of frequent droughts and adverse climate change may drive climate displacement towards Amman, where more secure water sources exist, and about 15% of the country’s farmers may abandon their farming lands or shift their use from agriculture to other uses. This will have devastating effects on Jordan as it may exacerbate food security issues, and is extremely economically dependent on the agriculture sector which represents 18% ($6.2 billion) of Jordanian exports[1].

It is now more crucial than ever to focus on policy, guidelines, and demonstrate practical measures to recover sustainably and restore degraded land.  Recovery in the water and agriculture sectors means bringing economic resilience, creating jobs, raising incomes, and achieving food security, while alleviating the impacts of climate change and jumpstarting green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. UNDP Jordan’s technical and financial assistance to Jordan in the profile of sustainable land management to mitigate the detrimental impact of desertification and drought has been crucial in Jordan. The team has worked tirelessly to produce relevant strategic documents and implement initiatives and pilot projects to aid in this effort.

On this day, we would like to stress the urgency to revive some of our past work in this sector such as the Water Sector Policy for Drought Management, the National Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy, and most importantly the Integrated Investment Framework for Sustainable Land Management in Jordan, stressing the importance of implementing their recommendations and bringing agriculture and water best practices more heavily into the mainstream.

 

[1] In 2016; Jordan Investment Commission - Agriculture Sector Profile.

 

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