This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted by Jordan’s Watershed and Development Initiative (WADI), is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.
Can you tell us the story behind the photo, such as the person(s) in the photo and/or how it was captured?
Reem Al-Zubaidi is the first woman to leave her village of Om Hussein to work, breaking many taboos and social norms. With her family’s support and after receiving intensive technical and soft skills training, she became a star at Sabha Community Nursery, where she grows different Mediterranean native plants, such as saltbrush (Altriplex halimus) seedlings. The Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development (SEED) project, which was funded by USAID and implemented by the U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with The Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia, provided the training for Reem and some of her colleagues. In this photo, Reem was pregnant; she later gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Wessam.
As the submitter/photographer, what does this photo mean to you?
I wanted to showcase evidence that Jordanian women from marginalized areas are very capable of working in nurseries and in participating in ecosystems and watershed restoration. The nurseries that produce native seedlings used in the rehabilitation of forests and rangelands can provide local communities, especially women, with work and economic opportunities and give them a chance to grow on the professional, technical, and personal levels. Women who worked in the nurseries became role models for other women in their communities; now they have a voice within their families and in their communities. Sabha Community Nursery, which is located in Jordan’s eastern desert, is a great model for women’s empowerment and livelihood improvement.
This year’s theme was “Healthy Forests for Healthy People.” Tell us more about how your photo relates to the theme.
Forests provide an excellent approach to climate change mitigation. Trees sequester a high amount of carbon dioxide, reducing air pollution and lowering the average air temperature. These two factors have a direct impact on nearby residents’ health. Moreover, studies have shown that green spaces play an important role in improving mental health. Forests are also an important source of food and fodder, and play an important role in keeping people who depend on forest products healthy.
The SEED project and local partner NGOs provide nature-based solutions by creating community-based nurseries that produce native seedlings. These seedlings have high survival rates and use only 30 percent of the water used in conventional nurseries to produce similar species. As native seedlings like Mediterranean saltbrush develop, they go through a “hardening phase” that helps them endure the harsh conditions of the desert and attain a survival rate as high as 85 percent. Rangeland seedlings absorb and store carbon dioxide due to their quick growth and comparatively short reproductive cycle. When planted in their natural habitats, these trees do not need to be irrigated, which is critically important for a country like Jordan, which is considered the second poorest country in the world in water per capita.
The same production methodology and community engagement modality were used to create more nurseries with partners and stakeholders, such as Greater Amman Municipality and The Royal Botanic Garden, where seedings are produced to restore Jordan’s degraded forests, which consist of less than one percent of that country’s land area.
How does this photo show work that is being done to combat climate change, and/or the climate-related benefits resulting from that work?
The seedlings produced in community nurseries are used to restore Jordan’s rangelands and forests, which have been severely affected and degraded due to climate change. Production and planting of native plants by local communities is considered a long-term investment to help Jordan’s watersheds come back to life, improve groundwater recharge, prevent flooding, and consequently mitigate the impact caused by climate change. Moreover, creating resilient communities reduces the climate change effects of poverty and its consequences on residents.
The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.
Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.