Water Scarcity in Jordan
Despite regional turmoil, Jordan enjoys relative stability compared to its neighbors in the Middle East. However, the Kingdom’s long-running issue of water scarcity, which ranked second globally, could threaten that continued stability. Water scarcity exacerbates existing systemic issues such as poverty and public health crises, which Jordan currently contends with. The Kingdom is suffering from an unprecedented youth employment rate of 48.1% as of November 2021 and is struggling to meet the pandemic-induced public health demands. As the effects of environmental changes continue to develop, Jordanians may increasingly feel the impacts of water scarcity in Jordan in the next decade.

7 Facts About Water Scarcity in Jordan

  1. Critical Water Insecurity by 2030: According to a March 2021 research study that Jim Yoon led, more than “90% of Jordan’s low-income population” will endure severe water insecurity by 2030. This water scarcity in Jordan will equate to impoverished households receiving less than 40 liters of water per capita per day.
  2. Demand is the Issue, Not Supply: About 93% of Jordanians have access to a safely-managed water source, according to UNICEF, reflecting adequate infrastructure. However, in 2017, Jordan’s yearly water supply equated to “less than 100m 3 per person, significantly below the United Nations’ threshold of 500m3 per person, which defines severe water scarcity,” reflecting the inability to meet population demand. This issue has worsened in recent years with the large influx of Syrian refugees.
  3. Rainfall: Jordan gets 110 mm of rainfall a year and ranked ninth in the top 10 countries with the lowest rainfall in 2017.
  4. Groundwater: Groundwater makes up 54% of Jordan’s water supply. There are 12 groundwater basins in Jordan. According to a 2021 research article by faculty members of Jordan-Jerash University, these basins experience overexploitation past their annual replenishable capacity. About 77.5% of the nation’s conserved water goes to the agricultural industry, which contributed only 5.6% of the country’s GDP in 2018.
  5. Treated Wastewater as an Alternative: Since building wastewater treatment plants in the 1980s, more than 64% of the population gained access to sewage systems, improving the overall sanitation level of the country. Jordan has a minimum of 26 wastewater treatment plants to treat and reuse raw wastewater. Projections have stated that the expansion of wastewater treatment plants will potentially offset the industrial demand for freshwater caused by water scarcity in Jordan in the Amman, Zarqa and Aqaba governorates.
  6. Mismanagement of Surface Water Resources: About 37% of Jordan’s total water supply comes from surface water resources. There are three major surface water sources in Jordan — the Jordan, Zarqa and Yarmouk rivers. Israel and Syria’s “upstream diversion and over-pumping” of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers are drying up Jordan’s access to their stream due to the lack of regional environmental cooperation. Meanwhile, the Zarqa River is severely contaminated due to overflow from wastewater treatment plants and sewage leaks.
  7. Pollution: Pollution is exacerbating water shortages. The overflow of wastewater pumping stations, leaks from sewage systems and exposure to industrial and commercial waste are polluting Jordan’s surface river sources. This has resulted in nitrate and phosphorus contamination of water supplies. Researchers point to improper industrial discharges and lack of regulation as the leading cause of water pollution in Jordan.

Looking Ahead

To continue as an oasis of peace and stability in the Middle East, Jordan must address its long-standing water scarcity crisis. Investment in strategies, such as the effective use of recycled wastewater, will help improve the country’s capacity to meet its booming population’s demand.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping to improve water scarcity in Jordan with its operations in Jordan beginning as early as 1949 — three years after the nation’s independence. In 2020, USAID “installed 8,500 kilometers of water piping and 120,0000 high-accuracy smart meters” while securing “leak detection equipment and vehicles” for the nation and upgrading “water monitoring and control systems” across the country. Through these measures, USAID was able to save sufficient “water in 2020 to supply more than 215,000 people” in Jordan annually.

In addition to technological solutions, Jordan is pursuing regional diplomatic efforts, such as the water-for-energy deal. Signed in November 2021 by Jordan and Israel, the deal will see Jordan export 600 megawatts of solar energy to Israel in exchange for 200 million cubic meters of Israel’s desalinated water.

This deal, and other efforts, could make way for sustainable, regional improvements in water conservation and accelerate the development of renewable energy infrastructure.

Majeed Malhas
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality
Maternal mortality is a devastating cause of death for women around the world, especially those who live in low-resource communities or developing countries. Many conditions that cause maternal mortality are preventable. However, progress is occurring to save the lives of mothers and babies all over the globe.

Maternal Health Issues

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a commitment to reaching maternal health goals and improving healthcare systems. It is reaching towards this by working with partners to address inequality of access to healthcare, researching all possible causes of maternal deaths and providing clinical and programmatic guidance and more.

 The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is a global leader in solving maternal health issues. It has a commitment to improving maternal, newborn and child healthcare services. In fact, it has partnered with governments to help meet the needs of mothers and babies with country-specific plans. USAID has saved the lives of over 340,000 mothers. It also protects the life of the mothers’ babies after delivery with immunization and sanitation resources available.

Merck for Mothers, or MOMs, is a global initiative that focuses on creating a world where no woman dies while giving birth. MOMs boasts helping over 13 million mothers deliver their babies safely. In addition, it also supports over 100 strategic investments aimed at programs that help the cause. Its focus countries are India, Nigeria, Kenya and the United States. It also has a global corporate grants program supporting nongovernmental organizations worldwide.

MOMs in India

India has a high maternal mortality rate of 145 deaths for every 100,000 births (56 highest of 182 countries in January 2020). MOMs focuses on supporting programs that help struggling mothers in India use technology. One such partnership is with USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations that work with the Alliance for Savings Mothers and Newborns (ASMAN) to digitally monitor the health of mothers during labor and delivery.

ASMAN provides links to healthcare providers for a Safe Delivery App – a smartphone application that shows “up-to-date clinical guidelines on obstetric care and can be used as an immediate life-saving reference during complicated deliveries.”

Solving delivery complications requires quick thinking and action on the spot, which is a MOMs specialty. The initiative utilizes MOMs’ resources to enhance already existing solutions. It creates a “failing fast” learning method to quickly get hands-on experience that can save lives.

An Indian digital health company, Avegen, has also partnered with MOMs to help release a web-based platform to educate women about quality maternal care. It gives them the ability to rate the services they receive on a public platform for others to read. This gives women the power to educate themselves and choose an accessible healthcare provider that meets their needs. It also gives healthcare providers the feedback they need to improve the quality of care.

MOMs in Africa

Developing nations such as Nigeria are more susceptible to maternal mortality and other delivery complications because of poor healthcare systems. Nigerian women are around 500 times more likely to die during childbirth compared to the most advanced nations. Nigeria’s high level of maternal mortality comes from a multitude of factors such as poverty, food insecurity and low healthcare resources.

Nigeria had the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world of 182 countries ranked in January 2020. In 2021, Merck reported it as the highest.

In Nigeria, health conditions like diabetes and hypertension are on the rise. These health risks can be precursors to eclampsia/preeclampsia, a high cause of maternal death. MOMs has a dedication to locating indirect causes of maternal mortality such as malaria and cardiovascular disease by partnering with Nigerian healthcare initiatives to identify how to manage these risks.

MOMs is bringing unidentified maternal death statistics to light by collaborating with Africare and Nigeria Health Watch to support an advocacy program, “Giving Birth in Nigeria.” The program lets communities report otherwise unreported maternal deaths online. Many maternal deaths do not get reported because they do not happen in hospitals or do not receive confirmation. However, communities need to understand why women in certain areas are at risk and how their deaths can undergo prevention.

MOMs began partnering with LifeBank, a technological healthcare supply distribution system based in Nigeria. LifeBank aims to bring much-needed medical supplies to patients quickly with a multi-modal transportation network. It has saved the lives of over 10,000 people and served 676 hospitals, with a focus on providing blood and other medical supplies to mothers during childbirth.

Continuing Maternal Health Success

MOMs provides service around the world to help mothers before, during and after pregnancy survive and live a healthy life with their babies. Measures can sometimes prevent the loss of a woman to maternal mortality, especially in impoverished countries. MOMs and its partners have been working to ensure that healthcare systems are more efficient, that women are empowered to share their experiences and to ensure that healthcare workers are up-to-date on childbirth procedures.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

United States International Development Fincance Corporation

Traditionally, international development has been considered a government responsibility. Developed countries loan large sums of money to developing countries. Debt accumulates, developing countries become reliant on loans and corrupt leaders benefit—not the people. State-controlled development has become infamous for its ineffectiveness and harmfulness over the years. The new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) introduces a new model: stimulate development through private sector investment and avoid the red tape, corruption and wastefulness of country-to-country loans.

The New U.S. Development Model

In 2019, the BUILD Act created the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation to expand upon the development work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Its purpose is to include the private sector in the United States’ international development mission. It can provide loans and political risk insurance, insurance that protects investments from political instability to its corporate partners. Thanks to the services it provides, it can collect service fees from the corporations. This means USIDFC operates without a cost to U.S. taxpayers.

USIDFC combines government oversight with private sector funding to create a new U.S. international development model. Although still in its infancy, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation has introduced some ambitious projects and adopted some from USAID and OPIC. The projects cover a wide variety of development issues such as healthcare, technology, poverty and female empowerment. Such issues often intertwine, as a solution for one can often impact another.

Alleviating Poverty in Chad and Mexico

For example, USIDFC’s work to bring electricity to Chad will help alleviate poverty. Currently, only 8.8% of Chad’s population has access to electricity. Such limited access impairs education, business growth and overall quality of life. Partnering with FinLux Ellen Sarl, a French corporation, USIDFC will provide a $10 million loan for the distribution of solar-powered appliances to Chad. The project will:

  1. Provide electricity to schools, businesses, and medical clinics
  2. Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal number seven: Affordable and Clean Energy
  3. Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal number eight: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Through a similar project in Tanzania by the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a farmer increased her daily earnings by 504% in two years. Such a drastic increase in wages shows the powerful effects of electricity-focused development projects on poverty.

Another example of the U.S. International Development Finance Cooperation’s work to alleviate poverty is occurring in Mexico. Mexico suffers from a poverty rate of nearly 50%. USIDFC is partnering with KapitalMujer to provide $5 million in microloans to women-owned businesses in southern and central Mexico. This project will give low-income women the necessary funds to start or continue their small businesses.

Although a heavily disputed development model, microfinancing has proved beneficial in Bangladesh and China. Microloans will not drastically increase the standard of living; however, the loans will raise many families out of poverty. Ultimately, this project will give impoverished women access to funds that would otherwise be unavailable to them due to their high risk. This money will allow them to invest in their businesses and increase their income.

Different Development Models

The motivation behind the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s creation should not be overlooked. It is a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, China’s state-to-state development model and the United States’ new corporation-to corporation development model are fulfilling different needs. China is investing large amounts into infrastructure in over sixty countries. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation is targeting small and mid-sized companies to grow developing countries’ economies from the inside.

International politics aside, both programs are filling gaps in places where investment is lacking. Both countries are actively trying to increase economic growth in developing countries, which will decrease poverty rates. Whether the countries’ motives are altruistic or geostrategic, frankly, does not matter. The global poverty rate will be positively affected either way.

Lauren Clouser
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Indonesia
The U.S. has allocated a total of $27.8 billion in foreign aid for the fiscal year of 2018 to benefit numerous countries around the world. One such recipient of that foreign aid is Indonesia, a country that began receiving U.S.-based funds after it gained its independence from Netherland in 1949.

Agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Peace Corps have assisted the country for over 60 years in various development challenges. Although the country attributes much of considerable progress to foreign aid, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia in numerous notable ways as well.


U.S. Benefits from Military Cooperation

The U.S. administration requested almost $41.7 million as foreign aid for Indonesia in fiscal year 2008. The goal was a joint fight of the two countries against terrorism, weapon expansion and other trans-national crimes. These aims also included strategic monitoring of waterways surrounding Indonesia and cooperation with the United States armed military forces.

From 2011 to 2016, the U.S. and Indonesia jointly performed 998 defense and security activities. High ranking military officials of the two countries exchanged their views on regional and global security issues through the Indonesia-United States Security Dialog (IUSSD) meetings. In 2015 at one of these meetings, the officials stated their focus on the following activities:

  • Cooperation on Maritime and Peacekeeping Operations
  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response
  • Defense Procurement and Joint Research and Development
  • Countering Trans-National Threats and improving military professionalization


U.S. Benefits from Maritime Cooperation

In June 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maritime Cooperation which led to a joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition. This voyage helped explore geological, biological and archaeological features of the unexplored ocean and involved scientists and engineers from both countries.

The MOU also extends cooperation in conservation and management of fishery, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and maritime safety and security, including combating and eliminating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.


U.S. Benefits from Economic Development

In 2008, the U.S. invested almost $27 million in the economic development of Indonesia. This funding helped to prevent corruption and increase transparency in finance, investment and the private sector of Indonesia facilitating trade between the two countries.

As a result of these aims, the U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock reached almost $16 billion in Indonesia in 2009, an increase that substantially aided the growth of the U.S. investment sector. Then, from 2010 to 2011, the trade between the two countries amounted to almost $23.4 million with a 17 percent increase of exports of U.S. goods to Indonesia.

The U.S. is also a major supplier of aircraft transport, rail transport and energy sector equipment to Indonesia. In 2011, the supply of U.S. agricultural products was remarkable and earned more than $3 billion for the country.  Different U.S. firms also invested a combined $450 million on plants.


Other Benefits

Indonesia is one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters due to its vast tropical forest. Thankfully, though, with the help of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID, the country aims to reduce CO2  emissions and generate 19 percent of the energy from renewable sources by 2019; accomplishing these goals would help fulfill the admirable targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2004, the U.S. has also assisted with Indonesia’s education programs. This aid helped to develop education exchange programs between universities of two countries and in January 2017, it was reported that almost 500 U.S. citizens studied in Indonesia with scholarships helping waive tuition fees and living expenses.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Indonesia is manifold in fighting terrorism and fostering marine exploration, fishing conservation, exchange education programs and job creation. These advantageous results help prove that foreign aid does not have to be charity but rather a strategic investment benefitting both recipient and donor.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

education development center
In the fight against global poverty, it is important to acknowledge some of the more successful combatants. The Education Development Center (EDC) is one of these. As a global nonprofit, it recognizes the correlation between the lack of education and increased global poverty and helps give those marginalized in the world — either due to poverty or war — the chance of leading a better life by means of education. As their website states, over 100 million children do not attend school, and it is this statistic that the EDC is fighting to combat and reduce.

With offices based in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Waltham, Mass., the Education Development Center commands a global staff of 1,350 members. It has over a $190 million budget and over 250 programs spread throughout 30 different countries and across all 50 U.S. states.

Through grants from both private foundations and federal agencies, the EDC creates and implements projects to improve educational and economic prospects of those worldwide. According to the EDC, these projects have ranged from “seed projects to large-scale national and international initiatives.”

Notable donors to the EDC include: the Ford Motor Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Education, UNESCO and the World Health Organization. Recently, the EDC has received three grants from the U.S. Department of Education, one for $3.5 million and two for almost $400,000 each, all meant for education development projects within the U.S.

Founded in 1958, the EDC’s first project was to design a new physics curriculum for American high school classrooms. This was partially a reaction to the Soviet Union’s new space program as well as a response to a perceived discrepancy between Soviet Union and American science educations.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project became highly successful, and the new curriculum was incorporated into roughly half of American high schools by the early 1960s.

Following the implementation of this first project in the United States, EDC soon began to establish a more global reach. In 1961 and 1966 it began work on advancing mathematics and science programs in Africa. These projects would eventually end up creating, as stated on EDC’s website, “the continent’s first indigenous education research and development organization, Science Education Programme for Africa.”

However, one of its most effective and interesting international projects is the Radio Education or Interactive Radio Instruction.

This radio program that began in 1985 (and still exists today) was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. It uses radios to educate large swaths of people, including adults and children from over 30 developing countries, that would otherwise be unable to receive a basic education, either because of war or poverty.

This dedication to improving the world and combating poverty through education has been sustained throughout the organization’s entire existence. As a result of projects from 1997-2007, for instance, student enrollment in Guinea has doubled.

More recently, the international work of the EDC has focused on reducing youth unemployment in both Rwanda and Macedonia. More vocational training centers, concentrated on teaching technical and interpersonal skills, are being created for these youths.

As 2015 draws near, so does the end of the Millennium Development Goals, eight goals signed in 2000 by 191 countries designed to drastically reduce global poverty. As the international community debates and draws up the next set of goals to target poverty, the EDC will be remembered and depended on for the continued positive change it has enacted since 1958.

– Albert Cavallaro 

Sources: EDC 1, EDC 2, EDC 3, EDC 4, EDC 5, IRIN
Photo: Sasaki