Development planners in arid areas face many difficulties in preparing appropriate strategies. Their task is made harder by the dearth of reliable demographic information. This paper presents population projections for the arid area of eastern Jordan covered by the Badia Research and Development Project and evaluates the economic and social implications of these projections over the next 20 years. The paper argues that conventional demographic forecasting methods are extremely problematic when applied to a population such as this. Furthermore, the pastoral economy, which has in the past been the main source of livelihood, cannot hope to sustain the region's future population. High fertility rates will continue to place great stress on the educational and health infrastructure. If appropriate planning responses are not achieved, the demographic regime of the Badia project area and the quality of life of the population may continue to diverge from the patterns found in other parts of Jordan.