With the Syria crisis in its seventh year, Jordan is hosting approximately 1.2 million Syrians, of which 659,593 are registered as refugees. Around 79% of registered Syrian refugees live in host communities, 96 per cent of whom live in northern and central Jordan.
The massive influx of refugees, on top of an already existing refugee population, adds enormous pressure on national service delivery with significant challenges in the quality provision of public services, particularly in critical sectors such as health, education, water and municipal services.
Qudra in Jordan
Jordan is currently hosting 1.2 million Syrians, of whom about half are registered as refugees. Of these, around 141,000 refugees live in camp settings, while the vast majority – equivalent to 78.4% of all Syrian refugees in Jordan – lives in rural and urban areas. The massive influx of refugees continue to present the Government of Jordan and public authorities with significant challenges in the quality provision of public services particularly in critical sectors such as healthcare, education, water and municipality services. It is estimated that more than 170,000 Syrian refugee children are enrolled in public schools and some 200 public schools are currently running double shift classes in order to accommodate the education needs of increasing number of children, with potential implications on the quality of education provided. Social tensions are of concern due to increased labour market competition between refugees and disadvantaged Jordanians, in a country where unemployment levels are high as 18.2%, youth unemployment over 30%.
Jordan Response Plan (JRP)
The Jordan Response Plan 2017 – 2019 (JRP), a three-year plan in line with the regional 3RP plan, provides the guiding framework for Qudra operations in Jordan. The JRP seeks to address the needs and vulnerabilities of Syrian refugees and Jordanian people, communities and institutions affected by the crisis.
Qudra activities in Jordan are designed to strengthen the resilience of refugees and host communities by improving the education infrastructure, skills development, social cohesion and municipal service delivery.
In compliance with national laws, Qudra seeks to assist all stakeholders in Jordan in the following areas:
Improving school infrastructure and access to extracurricular activities (GIZ)
According to UNHCR, 51 per cent of the registered refugee population in Jordan consists of children below 18 years of age, which translates to approximately 262,000 registered school-aged Syrian refugee children living in host communities. Although access to formal education in public schools in Jordan is free for Syrian children, financial pressure remains as the major barrier to children enrolling to schools. Child labour, high costs for regular attendance at schools including transport, far distances to school, families not supporting education and violence at schools were the most cited reasons, based on a UNICEF survey. Transport costs are estimated at an average of 25 EUR per month and are not affordable for many. 68% of the children currently not at school were formerly enrolled and have dropped out due to various reasons.
The Ministry of Education in Jordan has opened up an additional 200 public schools operating double shifts to accommodate refugee children while many more have incorporated Syrians in the regular shifts. As a result, the Jordanian public school system has been severely strained with about 50% of public schools being overcrowded. The existing infrastructure at some schools is worn-out with a dramatic deterioration in the sanitary and hygiene facilities. More than half of children with special needs – both Jordanian and Syrian – cannot access formal education due to lack of inclusive features.
Qudra in Jordan endeavours to improve the situation described through large-scale school rehabilitation with inclusive features, providing school transport and promoting social cohesion through extracurricular activities. The activities include:
- Rehabilitation of public school buildings, sanitary facilities and extracurricular facilities outdoors like play- or sportsgrounds and indoors like theatres or crafts rooms accessible to children with special needs,
- Developing a model for school transport using public means of transport with both Ministries of Education and Transport,
- Developing a facility management approach for public schools with GIZ and other development organisations in Jordan,
- Offering extracurricular activities outside official school hours and during holidays partnering the GIZ “Sport for Development” program and “Artolution” for art education workshops.
Expanding and improving basic vocational skills (GIZ)
With unemployment levels as high as 18.2 percent and youth unemployment over 30 percent, unemployment remains to be an issue in Jordan, exacerbated by the refugee crisis, affecting both Jordanians and Syrians. This has two components: While levels of unemployment has increased for Jordanians, the Syrians have been struggling to enter the labour market. Syrian refugees face the added challenge of needing to obtain a work permit. This, however, is only possible under certain conditions, such as finding an employer and being able to provide the required paperwork. In addition, a number of professions have been closed to migrants and refugees due to the strained labour market situation. Many refugees therefore are not able to work in the profession they qualified in.
Qudra aims to address this situation by providing vulnerable Jordanians and Syrians with the opportunity to participate in accredited vocational training programmes. The training programmes are conducted in collaboration with local NGOs and public sector training providers. They are short (1-3 months), which means that trainees are able to quickly gain the qualifications needed to join the labour market. They focus on providing trainees with on-the-job skills that can immediately be put to use. In addition, they are nationally accredited at the semi-skilled level, which provides the added bonus that they enable Syrian refugees to obtain a work permit. Before, during and after the training programmes, Qudra’s local partners assist the trainees to find work by providing career counselling and assisting in job placements.
The training programmes are chosen in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and local stakeholders, to ensure that they meet labour market needs. Due to the restricted occupations for Syrian refugees, Qudra ensures that a large number of training programmes are in occupations that are open to refugees. Qudra also takes into consideration the specific needs of women and men by providing training programmes both in traditionally male and female occupations (such as garment production, food production and refrigerator maintenance), as well as in new fields that can easily be accessed by all (such as sales and marketing, and mobile phone maintenance).
Strengthening social cohesion through access to information (Canal France International (CFI) on behalf of EF)
When it comes to accessing information related to daily life, such as school education, employment, official regulations, health care and legal aid, vulnerable Jordanians and Syrians largely depend on information spread by worth-of-mouth, rather than on official sources. This is due on the one hand to a lack of trust in these sources, and on the other hand to limited information being provided through these sources. The result is that vulnerable Jordanians and Syrians are not fully informed about their rights and responsibilities, about which public services are available to them and how they can access these. The lack of information can also aggravate social tensions, for example if vulnerable Jordanians have the impression that the national bodies and international organisations are providing services to Syrians that are not available to them.
Qudra in Jordan aims to improve Syrians’ and vulnerable Jordanians’ access to accurate information, as a means of empowerment as well as to strengthen social cohesion.
Qudra focuses its activities on information campaigns, by producing easily understandable videos and distributing them on television and social media. The content of these videos is developed jointly with the Ministry of Social Development and key national and international organisations. For example, Qudra’s information campaign on workers’ rights and responsibilities provides accurate and reliable information on the following:
- Workers’ rights in the workplace (targeting both Jordanians and Syrians),
- How to obtain a work permit in the agricultural sector (targeting Syrians).
Fostering the capacities of local administrations (AECID in cooperation with FIIAPP)
Despite the limited financial capacities of local authorities, municipalities in the north of Jordan are hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees who outnumber residents in certain locations. Providing for their needs has heavily affected local finances, increasing government expenditure for public services.
Qudra Jordan is fostering the capacities and resources of local authorities in the following three key areas: energy efficiency, better management and service delivery and participatory decision-making processes.
Energy expenditures remain the main challenge for the financial sustainability in the municipalities, reaching over 50% of their total expenditures. To address this issue, Qudra Jordan is co-designing Energy Efficiency Plans with the targeted municipalities that are expected to reduce power consumption and electricity bills by 25%. In line with the national strategy on decentralization, Qudra Jordan is supporting the improvement of municipal financial management through the delivery of specialized consultancies, on-the-job training and workshops.
Finally, in order to enhance local cohesion and inclusive service delivery, Qudra Jordan is exploring innovative approaches such as participatory budgeting devoted to engaging host communities, refugees, civil society organizations and local administrations in the design and implementation of local initiatives.
Additionally, Qudra Jordan is building the capacities of the Ministry of Interior to facilitate the decentralization process by hosting seminaries on specific topics.
Promoting regional and national dialogue (GIZ)
Qudra brings refugees, IDPs, host communities and local, national, regional stakeholders together in different platforms in order to encourage all parties to enter constructive dialogue and exchange experiences. Through such a participatory strategy, Qudra events and activities aim to develop new, innovative strategies for an appropriate response to the region’s refugee crisis. Most importantly, this module advocates for and provides the mechanisms of giving a voice to refugees, members of host communities and IDPs.
Qudra in Jordan, through various event formats and types of activities, play an essential role in building bridges and creating synergies among all relevant actors. EU Madad Labs provide a unique forum for these encounters, where all parties come together to discuss and identify key issues pertaining to the refugee crisis and develop context-based innovative solutions.