8 April 2014

Wadi Rum and Disi are desert and mountainous areas located in the south of Jordan. They are popular for sightseeing, outdoor sports such as rock-climbing and trekking, and for its connection to Lawrence of Arabia. The area is now internationally recognized as a world heritage site and is one of Jordan's important tourist destinations. The influx of tourists to this once isolated area has substantially increased the financial stability of the Bedouin people who rely heavily on local tourism as a source of income. The Bedouins provide desert tours, sunset and evening meals and camping style accommodation for groups between 20-60 people. The camps are relatively remote and are not serviced by main power grids.

Most Bedouin camps in Wadi Rum and Disi depend heavily on non-renewable sources of energy that are costly and difficult both to obtain and maintain. They depend on burning fossil fuel to meet their energy demands for lighting, cooking, heating, and hot water. In addition to environmental concerns, these energy sources emit gases and noise detracting from the tourists' experience.

This project engaged the owners of small eco-tourism camps in the Wadi Rum World Heritage Area to replace diesel generators with alternative, low energy lighting systems.   

The ACED program conducted a comprehensive feasibility study for developing “green power” solutions that would eradicate the use of diesel generators to power lighting systems in the remote desert camps. The ACED II Program, in cooperation with the environment directorate of ASEZA, implemented the study results and installed the solar energy power systems at twelve camps in Wadi Rum and Disi area, which were selected based on their location suitability and commitment for the project. The installation of these modules is in line with ASEZA’s strategy to provide environmentally friendly power generation solutions, protect the environment in Wadi Rum reservation and empower locals to adopt environmentally appropriate alternatives. Each camp had a 500 Watt solar power system that is sufficient to replace diesel generators and provide lighting power supply for the camp facilities including accommodation, dining area, kitchens, and service facilities. This environmentally-friendly solution restored the natural quiet of the desert night and enriched the eco-tourism experience of the tourists.

The ACED II Program will train users on operating and maintaining these systems. In addition, The ACED II program will conduct a training workshop on the installation and maintenance of the solar systems for the ASEZA staff to build their capacity and secure sustainability of the installed systems. Furthermore, the ACED II program installed one solar unit at the Aqaba Vocational Training Institute (AVTI). This module will be used to train the VTC students and equip them with new skills in line with market demands.