CRP has had an active presence in Jordan since its founding in 2006. In this time, we have witnessed many changes in the country, as it adapted to economic upturns and downtowns, large refugee influxes, and the Covid-19 pandemic. Today’s blog will shine the spotlight on the experiences of our Jordanian beneficiaries. Although their needs and concerns are often different to those of the refugee communities we serve, the Jordanians in our community also experience financial insecurity, instability in the present and anxiety for the future.
Challenges Jordanians Face
Jordan has long struggled with a lack of job opportunities. Country-wide, unemployment is currently at 22.8%. Young people are particularly affected, with the unemployment rate resting at 32% for Jordanians between the ages of 15-30. This, coupled with the fact that Jordanians on average have a relatively high rate of education, means many of the Jordanian youth who come to us at CRP feel frustrated and purposeless. Despite studying for several years and achieving good grades, they struggle to find employment.
Another issue among Jordanians is a phenomenon referred to as ‘underemployment’. Due to a lack of development in certain areas of the labor market, Jordanians often find themselves forced to accept jobs unrelated to their level of experience or skill-set. For example, young Jordanians who have trained for many years to be medical professionals, engineers or architects, instead find themselves working as baristas or taxi drivers. This, along with the resulting reduced salary (minimum wage in Amman is just 260JD per month), leads to a loss of confidence and motivation in the young men and women we serve at CRP.
Jordan, despite its scarce natural resources and economic challenges, hosts the second-highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The country has been particularly affected by influxes of Syrian refugees, who have been seeking safety in Jordan since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Other refugee communities have also emerged in the country coming from Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Somalia, among others. 83% of Syrian refugees living in Jordan have settled in urban areas outside of camps, with a resulting drain on the country’s infrastructure and social services like education and healthcare.
Social cohesion has at times wavered under the weight of these mass influxes. Increasing competition in the job market can lead to feelings of resentment and anger towards certain refugee populations, hampering the ability of the entire society to work together and help one another.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
As with many refugee communities, the pandemic dramatically worsened living conditions for already-vulnerable Jordanians. Lockdowns led to job losses, particularly in the tourism sector, which brought in 13% of Jordan’s GDP in the year before the virus’ outbreak.
Without a reliable source of income, poor Jordanian families became increasingly reliant on negative coping strategies such as child marriage. For children, education moved online, which proved to be a challenge for particularly impoverished Jordanian families who may have lacked the necessary technology and internet access.
Even now, in 2022, many Jordanian families are still recovering from the aftermath. Many may have accumulated large amounts of debt, creating a strained economic situation which makes it difficult for families to make rent payments and meet their basic needs.
How CRP is Helping
CRP helps anyone in need regardless of race, nationality or religious beliefs. Our emergency assistance programme is available to vulnerable Jordanians to help cover their basic needs. With financial security, they are less likely to turn to negative coping strategies and can focus on searching for productive work and improving their situation.
As well, all of our vocational programs are open to Jordanians as well as refugees. Many Jordanians feel powerless and this leads to frustration. Through discussion groups, creative programmes and vocational training programmes, we support Jordanians to work through these feelings in safe and constructive ways and allow them to gain skills which could potentially lead to employment.
Our programming also aims to encourage social cohesion. By bringing together Jordanians and refugees of different backgrounds, we are helping to dismantle negative stereotypes and create lasting connections between groups who may have been reluctant to interact with one another in the past.
Donor Relations & Communications Officer