Middle East Conflict Decimates Jordan River

The Jordan River, a holy waterway for Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, is a desiccated shadow of its once robust self, thanks to unceasing conflict and competition for water in the Middle East. Fifty years ago, the river’s flow was more than 264 billion gallons a year; today, it is less than 26.5 billion a year — and that includes more than 5 billion gallons of raw sewage. Israel, Jordan, and Syria have been siphoning off water in rising amounts as their populations increase; Jordan and Syria are currently building a new dam that could further cut the river’s flow. Due to conflict in the region, very little cooperative work has been done among governments to address the sad state of the Jordan. Middle East representatives of Friends of the Earth have asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to place the river on its World Heritage list, which would mean financial and technical assistance for conservation efforts. Says Israeli Chana Ridlin, “when we see each side of the river is flourishing, then we know there is peace.”