Al Za’atari Camp Population Profiling, Jordan
Al Za'atari refugee camp opened in July 2012 and has since received a large influx of refugees fleeing civil war in Syria. From its outset, the population of Al Za'atari has fluctuated, with new refugees arriving while others choose to leave the camp, either through the official 'bail out' system whereby they enter host communities, or through other means. This assessment was at first primarily intended to fill the information gap regarding intentions of refugees currently residing in Al Za'atari – whether they intended to stay within the camp, move within it or leave within the coming six months – to help non-governmental organizations (NGOs) plan for the months ahead with a better estimation of beneficiary numbers. Through discussion with the Strategic Working Group (SAG) for Al Za'atari the scope of the assessment was expanded to address additional information needs, such as satisfaction with services, their relationship to family members not in the camp, and current and previous livelihood strategies.
Assessment results indicate that the vast majority (97.7%) of households intend to stay in Al Za’atari camp for at least six months. Agencies can thus plan according to the assumption that refugees who currently reside in Al Za'atari will remain in the camp, despite the option to move into host community that is available under the „bail out‟ system. Certain household characteristics were found to be associated with an intention to leave the camp, including having a member with university education or a member with a disability. Evidence collected thus supports the contention that secondary displacement into host communities has largely plateaued and is perhaps even exceeded by the influx of new arrivals, meaning that in the absence of sudden shocks or crises, the Al Za‟atari‟s population will likely remain at its current level of approximately 75,000-80,000.
The majority of households were found to have arrived in the camp directly from Syria (97.8%), without previously residing in host communities and only 4% of households had family living in other areas of Jordan. Given that refugees are required to go to Al Za'atari on arrival at the border registration point of Rahb al Sahan, it is interesting to note that 2.2% of our sample said they did not come to the camp straight from Syria, as this suggests other points of entry, or potentially entering Jordan from other neighbouring countries such as Lebanon.
One of the major findings of this assessment was the stark contrast between livelihoods depended on in Syria and within Al Za'atari. Most households were self-sufficient in Syria, with more than a third (35%) of households reporting reliance on agricultural production (23%) or waged labour (12%); followed by skilled daily labour (23%) and unskilled non-agricultural daily labour (11%). In Al Za'atari however, only 1% of households reported earning an income from agriculture, while 23% reported begging as their primary source of income; 32% cash from charities; and 20% the sale of household assets. This shows how households have turned to negative coping strategies to cover basic needs in Al Za'atari, thereby demonstrating the urgent need for better livelihood options for households in the camp in order to address the high levels of dependence due to a lack of self-sustaining livelihood opportunities . Although cash for work programmes are currently in operation, only 4% of households reported skilled or unskilled daily labour as a primary source of income.
The assessment also measured opinions about service delivery in Al Za‟atari. Overall, improvement to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) centres was identified by around one third of households as a priority, followed by better access to services in general and better livelihood options (by 18% of households respectively). Across the entire camp, 53% of households said service delivery was 'helpful', and only 14% said it was 'unhelpful'.5 In most cases, data collectors state that this was cited by respondents who live in the 'extensions', which are areas of the camp where no one was meant to settle according to the current site planning strategy. These areas were therefore not provided with any services.
Given findings from this assessment, NGOs and United Nations (UN) actors are recommended to take into account the indication that refugees currently residing in Al Za'atari are likely to choose to stay in the camp, when estimating beneficiary numbers. In addition, there is a clear need for improved income generating opportunities, underpinned change in livelihood strategies that households experienced when moving from Syria to Al Za'atari, as well as taking into account the prolonged stay of refugee households in Al Za‟atari. Further research is recommended to enable livelihoods support interventions to be appropriately tailored to the unique characteristics of Al Za’atari while considering sustainable solutions for refugee households.