Friday, July 24, 2009

Water wanderings ...

It shouldn’t need an editor of the Jordan Times to draw attention to our ‘shared responsibility’ in the question of water conservation.  What is the Minister of Water doing about the chronic state of affairs regarding our right to life and water?

But this goes deeper into the role of government and begs the question “do the ministries that serve us the people actually coordinate their strategies concerning this vital resource that impacts every aspect of our daily lives”.  The answer has to be an emphatic ‘no’ in view of the poor performance of public media agencies such as JTV in public service broadcasting.   Producing awareness programmes using eligible public and popular personalities to get the message across would seem a simple concept.  Some small attempts have been made in the print media and on tv; but small attempts within a limited timeframe is hardly going to tackle this colossal task.  With all the talent in this country from actors, announcers, musicians, artists, directors and filmmakers who operate outside the mind numbing uselessness of the artists unions, you would think that JTV would seize on the opportunity to do something right for once; but alas, JTV is just too slow on the uptake, overburdened with unqualified staff, lack of vision, red tape and a mountain of wasta … they wouldn’t know a good thing unless ‘it/they/them’ came up to greet them with a tray of mint tea and chocolates stuffed in large envelopes!

On a recent trip to Aqaba which admittedly seems to have a better source of water than the capital of Amman – although its once sweet taste has given way to chlorine - I was quite appalled to learn that the authorities  spend on average about JD 40,000 per annum on water for a relatively new ‘grass’ football field it has just built within the impressive sports stadium.  All sports facilities are a good thing…. but with advances in modern technology and Jordan’s ranking as the fourth water poorest country in the world … repeat in the world … and the expected population explosion over the course of the next decade, it begs another question, 'why don't they use Astro turf instead of grass? ' 

With popular and successful personalities in the arts in Jordan, one would think that a powerful network of individuals could be brought together by the Ministry of Water, Ministry of the Environment and JTV to produce such an important programme of public service announcements for the purpose of water conservation.   Social habits can be improved with regular, consistent, long term (ie continuous) messages.  Many an artist has had a creative idea for the public good consigned to the bin of indifference.   But alas again, that would imply cooperation and using the best of the best!  

The humble television can be found in every village and rural area of the country, even in the remote areas of the desert.   Is this not a sign that this is a far more effective means of communication than the print media for getting a message across?   

We seem to have lost a sense of moral courage buried under the burdens of bureaucratic corruption and red tape, that has struck a death blow to creative vision.    JTV is no longer an institution for the public good, but rather has become a personal fiefdom of self-serving interests and as a means to outsource employment to further embedded wasta.   An individually successful artist - part and parcel of the soul of a nation -  is deemed a threat to this status quo;  unless this attitude changes,   we will all be forced to sing in unison "water water nowhere, do you have a drop to spare?".




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