WFP has a long standing commitment to Jordan and its people since 1964. Over 18 million trees have been planted in Jordan under WFP food-for-work programmes. In 2011, WFP embarked on an initiative to embed food security indicators into the government conducted surveys at the household level. As a result, the government statistics now include food security and vulnerability data. The Executive Director visited Jordan recently and held high level meetings with the government which highlighted the growing needs of poor in Jordan. The ED instructed formulation of a mission to design targeted cash or food for work interventions to boost the local economy and increase self-reliance. This report presents VAM findings of the mission.
Jordan is in a protracted economic crisis since 2008. Poverty is estimated at 14% while the food insecure and vulnerable are 2.4%. The 14% unemployment is rising and is expected to worsen due to the high population growth of 3% per annum and low rate of job creation. About 50% of the workforce is directly or indirectly employed by the state. The hilly terrain and low precipitation renders poorly for cereal production and the state imports 90% of wheat consumed as the staple diet. Poverty in Jordan is chronic exasperated by external shocks.
Jordan is a small country of 6.3 million people strategically located in the midst of the conflicts of Palestine, Iraq and Syria with direct impacts on the financial status of the government and the well-being of its citizens. Waves of refugees have camped, settled and joined the local workforce benefitting from the social services, safety nets and high standards of living. The recent Syria crisis has resulted in 240 thousand refugees. This is a sizable number compared to the total population and far exceeds the total number of poor in Jordan.
Poverty and food insecurity are more concentrated in the rural areas where people own small parcels of low production agricultural land. A series of development projects undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture, in partnership with the Alliance Against Hunger and technical inputs from UN agencies have proven good results. Rainwater harvesting programmes have been popular and successful in this country which is ranked amongst the five most water-deficit countries of the world. De-rocking, planting of home gardens, growing of alfalfa grass and planting of olive trees are traditional activities that lead poor people out of poverty and improve their food consumption and food security. For urban areas, poverty is linked to unemployment. There is a poor link between education and needs of the job market. Social preferences and biases towards job categories also play a role. Less preferred jobs are taken by expatriate labour which amounts to 30% of the labour force. Women participation, at 19% is a small portion of the labour force.
The WFP programme would create assets that would raise the resilience through asset creation and provide poor families the opportunity for better nutrition and incomes. The designed programme is in line with the government’s Economic Development Programme, Poverty Reduction Strategy and the United Nations Development Framework. It carries the spirit of Kulluna Al Urdun (We Are All Jordan) initiative.