The flow of refugees from Syria poses major challenges for Jordan. Since the civil war broke out, more than 640,000 Syrians have fled over the border. That corresponds to a population growth of almost ten percent – and more refugees are arriving every day. The influx is putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure.
Providing people with drinking water is a big problem, because water is scarce in Jordan. Even before the Syrian refugees arrived, Jordan’s water supplies were used too intensively, and could no longer be regenerated. Every year, the groundwater level decreases by one metre.
Lack of materials, water scarcity and unemployment
Jordan is a country with very few raw materials and little industrial basis. It is also one of the driest countries in the world. Potash and phosphate are among the available resources and primary exports. In addition, there are oil shale and uranium deposits, which should be used more intensively for generating energy, as well as natural gas deposits on the Jordanian-Iraqi border.
With a population of 6.5 million people and a gross domestic product amounting to around EUR 33.4 billion (in 2014, meaning approx. EUR 4766 per head), Jordan is one of the so-called “upper middle income” countries. However, these riches are not evenly distributed throughout the country. According to data from the World Bank, around one third of the population lives in poverty for at least one quarter of the year. In 2014, the unemployment rate was 12.3%. In particular, the high youth unemployment rate – around 38% for 15-19 year-olds, and 35% for 20-24 year-olds – is a huge problem for Jordan.
Close, friendly relationships
Political relations between Jordan and Germany are close and friendly. Jordan is one of the cooperation countries that the German government supports through thematic and regional programmes. The main focus of this cooperation is on the water sector. Jordan is one of the five driest countries in the world.
Since the start of the refugee crisis in 2012, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has supported Jordan with around EUR 475 million, of which EUR 148.47 has been used for special measures to manage the refugee crisis. In addition, the German Foreign Office provided EUR 89 million for humanitarian aid.
Municipalities bear the brunt of the crisis
In Jordan, 80% of Syrian refugees live in host communities, mainly in the northern governorates or in the capital, Amman. Jordanian municipalities therefore bear the brunt of the crisis – some of them now have as many refugees as they have locals. Due to the major lack of resources, the burden on the country is severe.
Between May and August 2016, the Service Agency Communities in One World determined the support requirements of Jordanian municipalities in terms of their hosting capacity. The main focus was on the question of where municipal expertise was needed, and which contributions from German municipalities or local actors could be used to assist host communities.
The host communities in Jordan face major difficulties in the fields of wastewater management and waste management, in particular in terms of recycling plastic and paper. Strategies for collecting recyclable material and waste prevention were also needed. Renewable energies (solar and wind) were frequently named as a field of action. German municipalities could provide expertise here, for example for the joint preparation of plans to reduce local energy costs and improve the local budget.
There is also a lack of support in Jordanian host communities in the fields of planning and coping skills, especially in terms of organisational and personnel development, the provision of local information systems, and the efficient use of data for local administrative issues.
The fields of education and employment, particularly for young people, the creation of affordable living space and citizen participation on a municipal level were also stated in the SKEW survey, and could be the focus of municipal partnership projects. Particular attention was drawn to the necessity of including strongly marginalised or underrepresented parts of the population (young people, women, refugees), as well as the potential for conflict between refugees and the local population. German municipalities have many years of experience in involving residents in local matters and training voluntary staff. German municipalities are also able to share their expertise in order to improve social housing so as to support groups which have low chances on the free housing market.
Opportunities for involvement
There are several ways in which you can get involved in your municipality.
We will be happy to advise you on the different areas of activity, and how you can get involved.
Get in touch with our points of contact directly, or fill in the interest form.
Would you like to find out more about Jordan?
More information can be found in the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (German Society for International Cooperation) Country Information Portal.