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Jordan Badia Programme 1992-1996

A joint UK-Jordanian research programme to provide decision makers, in both national government and local households, with the information they require for sustainable management of Jordan’s Badia region.

Organised by the Higher Council for Science and Technology, Jordan in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) with the Centre for Overseas Research and Development, Durham University acting on behalf of the RGS.  The Royal Geographical Society with the IBG finished its involvement in the collaboration in 2000 and the programme continues to be a joint venture between HCST and the University of Durham, CORD.

The arid lands, or Badia, of north-east Jordan have been the subject of many forces of change throughout the course of the twentieth century, particularly since the end of the First World War. National boundaries drawn in the 1920s separated Jordan’s Badia from similar areas in Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This meant that people living within these new boundaries became Jordanian and had to develop a set of relationships with the new Jordanian government in Amman which now provides basic services to the population including education, health care, electricity and water. Then in the 1930s the Iraq Petroleum Company built a pipeline through northern Jordan, creating the pumping station settlements of Ruwayshid and Safawi. Today, although some Badia pastoralists retain their traditional lifestyle of full mobility with their sheep and goats, most are only partially mobile for parts of the year or have adapted a fully settled way of life in a cluster of new villages. Vehicles have replaced camels for most forms of transport except desert police patrols, but a growing number of sheep and goats overgraze the natural vegetation and are dependent on imported grain-based concentrates for survival during much of the year. Irrigated farming has been introduced and a network of paved roads has been built.

These many changes to the population, the resource base and the management of the Badia’s natural resources are the subject of the Jordan Badia Research and Development Programme. Based at the excellent field centre at Safawi, 150kms east of Amman, in buildings at the old oil-pumping station known as H5, fieldwork began in 1992.

The Badia Programme study area comprises some 11,210 km² of the western half of the Jordan panhandle that extends north-east towards the boundary with Iraq, and is equal to around 14 per cent of the total land mass of Jordan.

The first requirement was to learn about the people and the physical environment of the study area. Thus a multiplicity of studies since 1992 has focused on all aspects of the traditional and changing pastoral livestock systems at a time when the pastoral economy is under great strain because of changing external circumstances. Researchers have also made excellent progress with understanding the biodiversity and natural environment of the area, particularly its plants, mammals and birds. A series of studies of climate and of groundwater recharge, movement, chemistry and usage has very valuably added to national-scale studies by the government to reveal a picture of growing groundwater deficit. Parallel studies of geomorphological processes have begun to reveal the effects of wind, rainfall, surface water and agricultural activities on erosion of the basalt rocks and on soil structure. At the same time wider-scale studies of the area as a whole are being made possible by the acquisition of satellite imagery and digitised topographic and geological maps. Agricultural studies concern the sheep industry and there are social studies of domestic life, health and education. Demographically, the project has now shown that the population is likely to rise rapidly from 16,000 to 23,000 by the year 2013 posing complex questions for planners of education, health, services, the environment and the economy. A monograph, published by Kegan Paul International in March 1998, Arid Land Resources and their Management: Jordan’s Desert Margin, edited by Dr Roderic Dutton, Professor John Clarke and Professor Anwar Battikhi contains 22 papers on research completed to date.

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Documents
· RGS Jordan Badia bibliography PDF

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