Date of Award
Croft Institute for International Studies
In this thesis, I analyze the physical, political, and societal transformations in Azraq, Jordan, caused by over-exploitation of the town’s aquifer. I also connect the changes I and others have observed in Azraq to two main theories: postmaterialism and its counterarguments, and the tragedy of the commons. In short, postmaterialism argues that societies that have advanced so that citizens do not have to devote their time and money to survival will have larger rates of environmentalism; the tragedy of the commons details the negative consequences of environmental degradation on those living around a common resource. In conducting the study, I carried out twenty-five surveys in Azraq that asked locals about the effects of the water shortage on their daily lives, their opinions on the national government’s water policy as it pertains to Azraq, and their opinions on the national government’s water policy pertaining to Jordan as a whole. Additionally, I conducted interviews with three Azraq farmers who discussed the impacts of government pumping from the aquifer on the agricultural sector; the president of the Azraq Wetland Reserve; and a representative of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. I found that the national government’s over-exploitation of the aquifer throughout the last three decades has led to increased environmental awareness in Azraq, which presents a direct counterargument to the postmaterialist thesis. I also found that Azraq presents a new way of understanding the tragedy of the commons, as the aquifer was once a common resource but is now controlled by the state. My findings imply that more shared, sustainable systems of groundwater governance will be necessary in the future.
Gerard, Wesley, "Watering the Desert: Azraq, Public Opinion, and Environmental Post-Materialism" (2019). Honors Theses. 1055.