Al Za’atari Refugee Camp Shelter Assessment- June 2014

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees, REACH Initiative
Published on 30 Jun 2014

Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in March 2011, approximately 2,697,808 refugees have fled into neighbouring countries to escape the violence. Jordan hosts some 589,792 refugees. Al Za'atari, situated in the northern governorate of Al Mafraq, opened in July 2012 and is the largest camp in Jordan (86,040 - REACH population count in May-June 2014). The camp is managed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with the Jordanian government, along with a wide range of non-government organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies.

When Al Za'atari first opened Syrian refugee households were provided with UNHCR tents. However tents are not suitable for the winter months and are also highly vulnerable to flooding. In response, UNHCR has thus been implementing a shelter strategy to ensure a transition from relief to transitional shelters, with caravans as the primary shelter solution, and tents only distributed to provide additional space, depending on family size.

As part of its ongoing collaboration with UNHCR, REACH carried out a comprehensive shelter assessment in Al Za’atari camp. The overall goal of this shelter assessment is to increase accountability in regards to the distribution of caravans to Syrian refugees in Al Za’atari camp. The specific objective of the assessment was to monitor the status of caravans since they had been delivered. The assessment provided also an opportunity to investigate the physical condition of caravans, and thus to gain an better understanding of the overall shelter situation within the camp in order to inform the shelter sector response in terms of repairs and replacement.
Additional information was collected on the use of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, as part of a follow-up to a previous assessment carried by REACH on wastewater in Al Za'atari.

Through this assessment, REACH was able to identify that 75.2% of shelters in Al Za'atari are caravans, showing a positive trend in terms of shelter allocation towards a situation where the entire camp population having adequate transitional shelters. Half (50.6%) of these caravans were received directly from UNHCR, but 41.2% were said to have been purchased, demonstrating that there is a market whereby people are selling the caravans they received from UNHCR, with the potential risk that the most vulnerable families are remaining in tents or other types of relief shelters in order to receive money from the sale of their caravans. The Saudi National Campaign (SNC), One Body, Korea, Qatar and Oman are among the main donors contributing funds towards the distribution of caravans to Al Za’atari camp population.

Over half of caravans (65%) had no damage, and only 6% had structural damage, showing that there is currently little need for shelter repair interventions. In regards to shelter, the main conclusion to draw from this assessment is that the strategy currently implemented by aid actors in Al Za'atari camp is effectively contributing to provide safe adequate housing to Syrian refugees. Further, the assessment allowed to estimate the relatively good level of living conditions for many Syrian refugee households staying in Al Za'atari: 20.3% of the camp population had access to a car; 2,277 and 7,429 households owned respectively a washing machine and a television; and 40.6% of households have private toilets.

Nonetheless, there are inequalities were observed between different areas of the camp, with for example households without connection to electricity being concentrated around District 8. Aid programming in Al Za'atari should focus on providing equitable access to services across the camp. For instance, UNHCR has been advocating for increase of services in District 8 in particular as it is currently underserved. This assessment also highlights that although there is a high proportion of households in Al Za'atari with private toilets, 17.5% of these households have this toilet only for specific family members to use, not everyone in the household.
WASH partners should therefore take this into account when planning how many communal WASH blocks to use.