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New documentary depicts water struggles of Al Karamah village

By JT - Sep 19,2018 - Last updated at Sep 20,2018

A general view of Al Karamah Dam in Central Shouneh (Reuters photo)

AMMAN — A new documentary on the water shortages of Al Karamah debuted on Wednesday at the Royal Scientific Society, according to a statement released by the West Asia-North Africa Institute (WANA).  

The documentary titled, “Al-Karamah… Karameh”, and made in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, depicts the daily struggles of local families with water, electricity and other issues.

The village of Al Karamah, which used to be called “Alabar” (the wells), according to the statement, is located 29 kilometres west of Amman in the Jordan Valley. “Al Karamah is the largest town in Central Shouneh with close to 20,000 inhabitants but the population varies depending on the season as residents move to colder areas of Jordan in the summer,” Ibrahim Fahed Al Adwan, mayor of Central Shouneh, said in the statement.

The documentary is part of the project “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Jordan and Beyond” and is meant to showcase how implementing SDG 6 (access to water and sanitation for all), SDG 7 (access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and SDG 13 (urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) can strongly improve the lives of villagers such as the inhabitants of Al Karamah, WANA said in the statement.

 The release noted that agriculture was once the main source of income for people in Al Karamah; 80 per cent of the population used to work in the sector. However, during the 1970s this percentage halved because of increasing water shortages and constraints on Jordanian agricultural exports. 

“A lot of land in Al Karamah has become very salty as people have stopped farming because of a lack of water,” farmer Mohammed Gharib said in the release. The Al Karamah Dam was constructed in 1995 to sustain agricultural activities in the area, but as the water salinity increased, people realised to would be unusable for agriculture. 

The residents of Al Karamah rely heavily on water tanks to supply drinking water, as the water provided to their homes by the Jordanian Water Authority can only be used for sanitation purposes, according to WANA. “The water distribution network in Al Karamah is outdated, as it was established in the 1960s,” Adwan told WANA.

In addition to water and high temperatures, the villagers also struggle with irregular power supply: “Electricity supply fluctuates constantly. Power is often cut, yet we pay high tariffs for the service without receiving enough electricity,” Roshka Al Mehsiri, a local tailor and member of the local council said in the statement.

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