How UNICEF supports social protection in Jordan
The protracted Syrian refugee crisis, combined with poor economic performance, has had dramatic consequences for the lives of the most vulnerable people in Jordan, even before the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the latest data on poverty, 15 per cent of Jordanians and 78 per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. This widespread poverty affects children in particular, who may forego education and engage in labour or marry early due to family financial struggles.
Social protection and sound social services are key to unlocking opportunities for children, as well as their families and communities, and protecting them during shocks, such as conflict or a disease outbreak. UNICEF is in a unique position to support this, thanks to our dual mandate to work in both humanitarian and development spheres. UNICEF Jordan’s Hajati programme is one example of how UNICEF bridges the humanitarian-development divide. Hajati supports vulnerable families, most of whom are Syrian refugees, enabling parents to send their children to school and reducing reliance on negative coping strategies, such as child labour. By prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable children – irrespective of their nationality or legal status – Hajati provides crucial support and ensures that no child is left behind. Hajati, however, is not simply a cash transfer programme that responds to humanitarian needs. It also has a robust research component to support the development of a sustainable social protection system in Jordan. Building on the strong partnership between UNICEF Jordan and the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, the evidence plays a crucial role in the work of our government partners, particularly the National Aid Fund (NAF), Jordan’s main social assistance programme providing critical support to lift families out of poverty.
This partnership has already produced results; in one year, NAF was able to double the number of children it serves through improved targeting. Proxy means testing was used to identify new recipients, while a new monitoring and information system was created to support registration, build the capacity of NAF staff and explore innovative payment solutions, such as mobile money. The NAF Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Framework also draws on the rapid monitoring used for Hajati.
Evidence is essential in our global efforts to achieve a better and more sustainable world for children. UNICEF Jordan and UNICEF Innocenti collaborated to generate policy-relevant evidence needed to deliver better results for children. UNICEF Jordan is working with government partners, and other stakeholders to turn this evidence into action. Hajati demonstrates how – through integration and collaboration – social protection can address poverty and social vulnerability, helping to break the cycle of poverty and ensuring better futures for children, their communities and societies around the world.
Representative UNICEF Jordan
Director UNICEF Office of Research − Innocenti