Rape Cases has Decreased in JordanIn 1960, the country of Jordan adopted Article 308, a law allowing rapists to escape punishment if they married their victim. After years of persistent campaigning, women’s rights groups across Northern Africa and Western Asia influenced countries throughout the Middle East, including Jordan, to abolish such laws. After an annual increase in rape cases since 2015, the number of rape cases in Jordan has decreased. Here is a guide to why the number of rape cases has decreased in Jordan, a description of the positive impact of Article 308’s abolishment and what obstacles women’s rights groups still need to overcome.

Article 308

Elspeth Dehnert, a journalist from Huffpost, recounts the story of a Jordanian woman named Aya whose family arranged her to marry her rapist. They did this to protect the rapist from jail time and avoid a “scandal” they believed would ensue if Aya and her attacker were not married. Yet after months of suffering more abuse from her husband, Aya decided to file for divorce and publicize her situation. In a letter she wrote to the Jordanian Parliament and local media, she declared how she knew her husband only married her to escape imprisonment.

Ever since Jordan adopted Article 308, Jordanian men have used this law to escape punishment for rape. Those who supported the law claimed it protected the victim and her family from the shame of rape. Yet women’s rights organizations, like the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI), and many Jordanians disagreed. The SIGI asked Jordanians what they thought motivates rapists to offer marriage to their victims. An estimated 62.5 percent of respondents said the offender wants to escape prosecution, trial or execution of the penalty. Similarly, about 15 percent of respondents said the rapist wants to avoid social stigma against him. According to Jordan’s Ministry of Justice, 159 rapists had used Article 308 between 2010 and 2013 to evade punishment.

The Abolition of Article 308

In October 2016, Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered the creation of a royal committee to reform the judiciary and review Jordan’s entire penal code. Three years before this review, the women’s rights movement worked to gain broad support. Activists from organizations like the SIGI created a base of evidence to defeat arguments made by Article 308’s proponents. These proponents argued Article 308 keeps families together and protects women from the stigma of extramarital sex.

In doing so, activists based their stance in the horrific stories of local women and girls forced to marry their rapists. This strategy helped combat accusations from opponents claiming their campaign was being led by feminists with a Western agenda who had no right to be interfering in family law. Fortunately, the campaign of the women’s rights movement was so successful in Jordan that the Jordanian Parliament removed all the legal loopholes letting rapists evade punishment for their crimes and abolished Article 308 altogether, rather than repeal or amend it.

The Impact of Article 308’s Abolishment

Because of this abolishment, the Annual Statistical Report 2018 issued by Jordan’s Department of Statistics says the number of rape cases has decreased in Jordan. Complaints of rape in 2018 declined from 145 complaints in 2017 to 140 complaints in 2018. The SIGI issued a press release stating this is the first year Jordan has seen a decrease in annual rape cases since 2015. The SIGI also said these figures represent cases filed at police stations, some of which resulted in suspects being tried and convicted. Other cases were classified as something other than rape.

The Culture of Shame

Even though the number of rape cases has decreased in Jordan, experts say that even in countries where legal loopholes were abolished or never existed at all, the custom of allowing rapists to avoid imprisonment by marrying their victims is still widespread. Many families throughout the Arab world believe that when they expose their daughter’s rape to the public, they risk social shame. This has lead, in some cases, to a family killing their own daughter to preserve the family’s honor. From their perspective, marriage is an easier, more private solution.

The number of rape cases has decreased in Jordan, yet the culture of shame that protects rapists from punishment is still alive and well. In response to statements made by Equality Now’s legal equality program manager Antonia Kirkland, Dehnert says more effort needs to be made by judges, law enforcement and medical workers. She also states these same people need to make sure women and girls know their legal rights. If these efforts are made, women in Jordan and throughout the Middle East will experience a safer and liberated future.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girl’s Education in Jordan
Education is a weapon that can transform lives, especially for the female population. This fact is true for the girls in the small Arab country of Jordan as well.

Sending a girl to school allows her to build confidence and contribute to the country’s economic, social and political development. Although education in Jordan has reached gender parity in 1999, social norms and traditions, along with other factors, block Jordanian girls from fully utilizing their education in the job market. In the article below, top 10 facts about girls education in Jordan are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in Jordan

  1. There is no specific gender disparity in Jordanian primary schools. Over 94 percent of girls attend school compared to 95 percent of boys. Girls in rural areas are just as likely as girls in urban areas to attend school.
  2. About 10 percent of girls who are secondary school age (12-17 years old) are not participating in the education system, compared to 15 percent of male youth of the same age. Although the number is in favor of girls, the percentage is not satisfactory and is mainly the consequence of child marriage or low school performance followed by dropout.
  3. Since 14 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, child marriage occurs often among Jordanian girls in order for parents to be relieved of their financial responsibility. Around 13 percent of girls in Jordan marry before turning 18 years of age. Over 86 percent of girls who marry under the age of 18 have only finished their elementary education. The situation is not better for the Syrian refugee girls that are coming to Jordan since 33 percent of them are already married. This significantly decreases their chances of school enrollment.
  4. The Syrian refugee crisis has strongly impacted on education in Jordan. It has created overcrowded classes and increased educational costs for the government. The government strives to improve its educational standards for girls and boys alike despite this setback caused by the humanitarian crisis. UNICEF is partnering with the Ministry of Education to educate refugees and supply classroom furniture and learning materials. Plan international Jordan create safe child-friendly spaces for Jordanian and Syrian refugee children under the age of 5, which increases the chances that they will attend primary school.
  5. Jordan has one of the highest literacy rates for girls in the Middle East, which is a staggering 97.3 percent. However, this educational advancement does not transfer over to the job force. Jordan has one of the world’s lowest rates of women participating in the workforce at 13.2 percent. If a gender gap in Jordan’s workforce continues to exist, the country will experience a reduction in potential GDP growth of 0.5 to 0.9 percent per year.
  6. A good education is no guarantee that the girl will find employment. Thirty percent of women with a university degree or above are unemployed in the country. The percentage of woman that believe there are obstacles to women’s employment is at 76 percent. They consider that these obstacles have a cultural and religious background that pressures women to stay at home, as well as a lack of women’s job opportunities.
  7. There is a large socio-economic gap that exists in Jordan. In 2009, only 16 percent of girls from underprivileged households excelled above level 2 math, compared to 57 percent of girls from wealthier households. Costly private schools that usually offer better education are reserved for the upper class of society.
  8. Jordan’s government is working to support the empowerment of women and girls. It has partnered with the USAID Mission in order to create policy reforms. Together, they have already developed 59 laws and procedures that promote gender equality. USAID also supports the establishment of Jordan’s first women’s caucus in Parliament and has provided 2,343 women with better employment opportunities. The organization also launched its Takamol Project, a five-year program that encourages governments and civil society institutions to address gender equality.
  9. The government seeks to keep girls safe in their learning environment as 59 percent of schools in Jordan have a guard and surrounding fence. Compared to boy’s and mixed schools, girl’s schools have taken security measures more seriously in order to avoid break-ins or vandalism.
  10. Go Girls is a nationwide initiative that exposes girls to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects by leading hands-on training workshops. This organization specifically targets public schools and refugee camps in Jordan who have little access to technology. Launched in 2015, Go Girls has already educated and helped thousands of girls across the country.

Thanks to the joint effort of Jordan government and organizations such as USAID, UNICEF and other nongovernmental organizations educational opportunities in the Jordan are significantly improving.

As can be viewed from the top 10 facts about girls education in Jordan shown above, the education of the girls in the country can be improved, but the main focus in the future should be on ensuring the girls with equal job opportunities after the successful education.

Grace Klein
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Countries Receiving Economic Aid in 2019
In the fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Federal Government plans on spending $1.24 trillion. Out of this amount, foreign assistance will account for $27 billion. This spending is broken down into several categories including economic development. Approximately $2 billion will be directed toward generating economic growth in developing countries. In the text below, the top five countries receiving the economic aid in 2019 are presented.


The first country on the list is Jordan. Jordan will receive $1.27 billion in aid and roughly 48 percent of that money is planned for economic development. The focus of this aid is on a plan called the Microeconomic Foundation for Growth Assistance. The goal of this funding is to create a stable economic landscape that will allow the private sector to invest. This will aid Jordan by creating both monetary and fiscal policies that will allow the government to have a greater control of the economy.

These reforms are needed due to the economic crisis that Jordan is currently facing. Jordan’s debt makes up 94 percent of the country’s GDP. The cost of living has also risen dramatically in the past years. The Economist ranked Amman, the capital of Jordan, as the most expensive Arab city to live in. However, Jordan is working to end its economic crisis. Recently, Jordan received a $723 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and plans to lower the country’s debt to 77 percent of GDP by 2021.  


The second country on the list is Afghanistan. This country is projected to receive $93 million for economic development. Most of this funds ($57 million), will be aimed toward agricultural development. This money will be focused on the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In 2018, Afghanistan’s GDP increased by five times compared to 2002. However, a large trade deficit threatens Afghanistan’s economy. Most of Afghanistan’s economy relies on imports and this is the main reason why the country needs help in distributing agricultural goods. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided airlifts in 2017 to help export goods to international markets. USAID also provided alternative road transport. In total, this organization helped to move $223 million of goods.  


In 2019 Kenya, will receive $624 million of aid from the United States. Out of this amount, 5 percent will be aimed at economic development of the country, totaling $29 million. Almost 80 percent of this money will be for agriculture. Like Afghanistan, the focus of the aid is towards the distribution, processing and trade of agricultural goods.

In Kenya, agriculture makes up 27 percent of the country’s GDP and it is vulnerable to various kinds of natural disasters, like droughts. In 2014, Kenya reported a national drought emergency and the drought left millions of people vulnerable.

The drought continued to 2018 and USAID is studying the situation and working on solutions to help lessen the impact of the drought. In the period of 2015 to 2017 USAID implemented several programs to help create more drought resistant incentives for farmers. Kenya’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2018, compared to 4.8 in 2017. This is directly related to a better weather situation in the country.


Economic aid directed toward Tanzania is projected to be 1 percent of the aid package, which equals $7 million. This amount will be aimed towards agriculture.

Agriculture makes up for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and around 75 percent the country population is employed in this sector. The United States sees this as an opportunity to increase incomes and living conditions for Tanzanians. USAID has been working on a program in Tanzania known as Feed the Future. This program increases competitiveness, productivity and creates infrastructure so farmers can reach more markets.

In 2017, over 400,000 Tanzanians have benefited from Feed the Future. This is reiterated by the fact that rice productivity doubled per acre and the average gross margins for horticulture reached $3,900 per acre.


Uganda is projected to receive $461 million in 2019. Four percent or almost $19 million are going towards economic development. Majority of this amount is going towards agriculture development.

Like Tanzania, a large percentage of Uganda’s GDP and workforce are concentrated in agriculture. Twenty-four percent of the country’s GDP is made up of agriculture and farming employs two-thirds of the population.

USAID implemented the Feed the Future Program in Uganda as well. One of the most important initiatives was implementing an e-verification sticker in fruits sold that was intended for keeping track of purchase inputs. This initiative is aimed at combating the $1 billion loss that Uganda faces from counterfeit inputs on yearly basis. It also laid private investors consciences to rest, since they invested over $6 million in Uganda’s agricultural business in 2016.

In summary, the top five countries receiving the economic aid from the U.S. in 2019 are Jordan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The United States government invests billions of dollars every year into foreign aid. One of the best ways to use that money is to invest in economic development, which helps improve the conditions of people living in developing countries.

Economic stability is one of the most crucial factors in ensuring safety across the world. 

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

ASU Global
In the modern, globalized world, public research institutions are essential to innovation, knowledge creation and international development. With these functions at the forefront, research institutions can assist The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

Currently, 11 percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, defined by The World Bank as living on less than $1.90 per day. Despite its persistence, poverty has decreased drastically since 1990, when 35 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Global poverty reduction has been aided by the efforts of higher educational institutions like Arizona State University’s International Development team.

ASU’s International Development Team

Arizona State University (ASU), a public research university, is one of the only U.S. universities that actively pursues funding opportunities in the international aid landscape. As part of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, ASU’s International Development team works to identify and provide solutions for complex challenges facing the developing world.

Stephen Feinson, associate vice president for ASU’s International Development team, told The Borgen Project that the primary objective of ASU’s International Development team is to, “[advance] a new model for university engagement with the developing world that collaboratively drives solutions to great development challenges through partnerships with local universities, governments, the private sector, and non-governmental entities.”

ASU International Development team is able to support and advance international development efforts with the assistance of its funding partners. Donors include USAID, U.S. Department of State, Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank. ASU also partners with implementing firms, such as Chemonics, Creative Associates, DAI, and IESC, and collaborates with over 100 universities worldwide to advance innovative solutions for the developing world.

ASU’s International Development team is currently involved in four development projects worldwide. These projects are:

  1. The US-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E) project was launched in 2015 and received an $18 million investment from USAID. In partnership with Pakistan’s National University for Science and Technology (NUST) and University of Engineering and Technology (UET), USPCAS-E works to create an energy research agenda for energy needs in Pakistan. Feinson told The Borgen Project, “to date, more than 136 students and faculty researchers […] have participated in the exchange program at ASU and subcontractor Oregon State University’s research labs working on energy-related projects.” Furthermore, “Over 30 master’s students have graduated from the center and have entered the energy workforce equipped to make an impact in Pakistan’s energy sector,” Feinson added.
  2. The Holistic Water Solutions project in Jordan and Lebanon received $2 million from USAID and serves refugee host communities by providing potable water to communities and household. “The project’s multifaceted approach includes community water desalination and purification kiosks equipped with on-grid/off-grid capacity, household air-to-water technology, entrepreneurial training for women and water demand management,” said Feinson.
  3. The Building University-Industry Learning and Development Through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) project in Vietnam is the third major ASU project in Vietnam. Feinson told The Borgen Project that BUILD-IT is supported by USAID and aims to identify and respond to gaps in Vietnam’s technical workforce as well as build female empowerment.
  4. The Global Development Research (GDR) Scholars project allows ASU to support additional Research and Innovation Fellows through fundraising and cost sharing. Through The GDR Scholars Program, ASU provides fellowships to graduate students, encouraging collaboration and use-inspired research to improve conditions regarding The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Feinson told The Borgen Project, “since its inception in 2015, the program has placed 70 scholars in 25 USAID priority countries [where they] worked to identify and conduct projects in USAID-defined sectors related to health, education, economic security, biodiversity, human trafficking, gender, supply chain, energy, water, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The Goal of ASU’s International Development Team

According to Feinson, “ASU aims to become a global center for interdisciplinary research, discovery and development by 2025.” To reach this goal, ASU International Development team serves to establish ASU as a trusted partner for USAID, other funding agencies and donors, implementing firms and university partners.

The goals of ASU’s International Development team are to advance the New American University Model in the context of international development. Feinson said this model “offers ideas distinctly suited to the developing world, advancing use-inspired research that addresses epochal development challenges and scalable solutions tailored to the needs of developing countries.”

The efforts of ASU’s International Development team have already begun to make a difference in developing countries. For instance, their past successes include projects such as the Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) in Vietnam, Liberia, Guyana, Kenya and South Pacific Island Nations; the India Support for Teacher Education Program (In-STEP) in India; the Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP) in Vietnam; and the Solucion El Salvador (SolucionES) in El Salvador.

The United Nations Development Programme is working hard to eradicate poverty. With an increasing number of U.S. higher educational institutions taking note of and emulating the successes of ASU’s International Development team, The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal 1 of eradicating extreme poverty can become reality.

– Kara Roberts

Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Jordan
According to a recent report by the World Bank, countries around the world are losing about $160 trillion in wealth because of the inequality between men and women in their lifetime earnings. Much like elsewhere in the Middle East, Jordan struggles to achieve gender equality in its economic and political landscapes; interestingly, though, the gap is beginning to close at the educational level. Girls’ education in Jordan has successfully been at par with that of boys.

In 2015, the primary school enrollment was 98 percent for boys and 96 percent for girls. For the secondary schools, the enrollment was at 89 percent and 86 percent for boys and girls, respectively. Moreover, the girls in the country outperform boys in almost all the subjects in about all age groups.

Nevertheless, most of the Jordanian women remain unemployed, despite their educational levels. The female workforce participation in Jordan remains at 15.3 percent. Along with that, Jordanian women are still highly underrepresented in politics. While only 15.4 percent of the parliamentarians are women, only 7.1 percent of the ministerial positions are held by women.

Understanding the Disconnect Between Educational Attainment and Sociopolitical Empowerment

On the one hand, the Global Gender Gap Report ranks Jordan at 51 among the 144 countries on its educational attainment. On the other hand, the country’s rank for economic participation and opportunity is 138 and for political empowerment is 126. Despite an outstanding literacy rate (99.8 percent for men and 99.7 percent for women), Jordan has a long way to go in order to provide equal opportunities to its girls as they graduate from school.

Although some attribute the higher attainment of educational levels to the intrinsic motivation found in the students, others associate external variables (such as cultural norms and family support) as being instrumental in determining women’s outcomes of success. Both perspectives have merit, and the later can be  especially true later in their lives when they want to become financially independent and politically represented.

One reason for the under-utilization of these highly educated women lies in the social norms and practices of the country. The traditional belief system discourages women from joining the workforce, limits their participation in political activities and prefers them to marry early – even sometimes during their school years.

On the one hand, boys are mostly able to get jobs right after high school with average test scores; these jobs may not be the high-paying ones, but they are the ones that make them relatively financially independent and eligible for marriage. On the other hand, girls, if allowed, are supposed to mainly work in a reputable sector (such as teaching and medicine) because working in a restaurant or a hotel is seen dishonorably. Thus, in order to seek jobs, girls generally have to strive for higher levels of education with better test scores.

Changing the Social Norms

The untapped potential of the Jordanian women can be utilized in many ways. One such initiative that puts this potential in action is the Takamol Project. Takamol is directed toward improving girls’ education in Jordan and expanding career opportunities for women in the country.

Implemented by USAID along with its Jordanian partners, Takamol consists of actions targeted to ensure the success of girls in schools and the advancement of women in workplaces. From creating safe spaces which hold social dialogues about changing gender norms, to supporting advocacy efforts for female empowerment, Takamol is playing a significant role in expanding the opportunities for the women in Jordan.

Key Achievements

Some of Takamols key achievements include:

  • Revisiting and developing 59 laws and policies in the country to promote gender inequality and address issues like gender-based violence.
  • Supporting the creation of Jordan’s first women’s caucus in Parliament.
  • Training 350 female public servants with leadership skills.
  • Assisting 657 women-owned businesses to gain better financial accessibility.
  • Training over 100 female health workers who visit another 400,000 Jordanian women every year to provide counseling on women’s health issues and family planning.

Moreover, in order to address the problem of gender inequality at its root, Takamol has recognized the importance of preparing the upcoming generations with more gender-egalitarian mindsets. The books and plays in schools are being revised and rewritten to present a counternarrative vis-à-vis the prevailing gender norms.

Along with Haya Cultural Center, Takamol has created a series of six children books and performances. Through the stories of strong and independent female characters, the books and plays attempt to evoke gender sensitive thoughts in the minds of the children and dismantle the existing gender stereotypes. So far, these stories have reached more than 2,900 children across the country.

Steps Towards Gender Equality

Yet much more has to be accomplished to move towards greater gender equality. More efforts like Takamol’s storytelling projects can help bring about the change for the girls and women in Jordan. Girls’ education in Jordan is surely a sign of success. But the country needs to make efforts to ensure that the women have access to opportunities when they graduate from their schools.

It is not only the wealth that is lost when women are unable to participate in economic and political activities of a country; the country also loses the knowledge of an academic, the creativity of an entrepreneur, the spirit of an artist and the voice of a mother in the process.

– Fariha Khalid
Photo: Flickr

Located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, Jordan is known for being one of the most politically stable countries in the Middle East and home to numerous historic sites, including Petra and the Dead Sea. Despite this rich cultural history, Jordan has suffered from poverty and underemployment, exacerbated in recent years by an influx of refugees from Syria — its neighbor to the north. Here are five facts about poverty in Jordan that give further context to this nation’s economic challenges. 

Five Facts About Poverty in Jordan

1. With an arid climate and a paucity of water catchment systems, Jordan is the third most water scarce country in the world.

An increasing majority of Jordan’s population inhabits urban areas. Yet large cities are often far from sources of water, necessitating costly water shipments. Furthermore, most of Jordan’s water resources go to its agriculture sector, which contributes minimally to Jordan’s GDP (despite its large intake of natural resources).

As the population continues to swell, water scarcity will increasingly challenge farmers to improve food security through environmentally sustainable practices.

2. The problem of water scarcity contributes to food insecurity.

Dominated by a far-reaching steppic zone, only 1.97 percent of Jordan’s land is arable. Approximately 67 percent of the agricultural production relies on rain, leaving farmer’s vulnerable to drought.

With limited production levels, Jordan must import 97 percent of its food. The resulting dynamic has made food security a common problem among Jordanians. A UNDP study found food insecurity in over one third of households, where families could not afford three meals a day. 

3. Recently, faltering GDP growth represents another telling fact about poverty in Jordan.

Jordan has suffered from an underperforming economy, stymied by the global economic crisis of 2007 and further exacerbated by the turmoil of the Arab Spring and ensuing conflict in Syria. The effect has been to depress Jordan’s GDP growth by hindering trade, industry and tourism.

The GDP growth dropped from 8.2 to 2.8 percent between 2007 and 2013. Public debt reached 79 percent of GDP in 2014 and unemployment rose to 14 percent. Furthermore, women participate in the economy at lower rates than other nations in the region, despite comparatively higher educational outcomes

4. An influx of refugees from Syria has put a further strain on Jordan’s stagnant economy and limited resources.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 630,776 registered persons of concern and approximately 1.4 million Syrian refugees in Jordan.

With only 20 percent of these asylum seekers located in camps, the majority are interspersed throughout the state, increasing the strain on Jordan’s water and food supplies, housing and energy. 

5. Regional Instability has exacted further costs on Jordan’s economy.

Due to the low availability of domestic energy reserves, Jordan relies heavily on subsidized imports from its neighbors, such as natural gas piped in from Egypt. Since the 2011 uprising that resulted in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, dozens of attacks by militants on energy pipelines have disrupted the supply chain to Jordan, incurring billions of dollars in losses as the country has had to substitute costlier heavy-fuel oils.

Though these facts about poverty in Jordan are troubling, Jordan’s government has launched major programs to stimulate the economy and protect against food insecurity. The World Bank projects Jordan to have a a 2.3 percent growth rate for 2017, and an average rate of growth of 2.6 percent between 2017 and 2019. 

Furthermore, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the World Food Programme, the Jordanian government has initiated anti-poverty policies aimed at improving sustainable agriculture and supporting citizens and refugees hit hardest by poverty in Jordan. 

– Whiting Tennis 

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Poverty in Jordan FactsJordan is a country of key interest to the United States, situated as it is in the center of the conflict-ridden Middle East. This is principally why the United States has planned more than $1 billion in foreign aid to Jordan in 2018, focused on military assistance, economic development and health.

Much of this aid aims to address poverty in Jordan, a major cause of discontent given that more than 14 percent of the country currently lives below the poverty line. Understanding poverty in Jordan is key to addressing it, which in turn would help to secure a peaceful future for the country and the Middle East in general. This 10 poverty in Jordan facts break down the basic concept of the issue and the possible solutions to Jordan’s ails.

Top 10 Poverty in Jordan Facts

  1. Jordan Lacks Natural Resources
    While many Middle Eastern countries possess large oil reserves, to their great economic benefit, Jordan lacks this kind of natural wealth. The country also has a poor climate, which contributes significantly to its high rates of poverty.
  2. Jordan Is Not Poor
    However, poverty in Jordan is not just a matter of natural resources or a pervasive lack of wealth. The United Nations classified Jordan as a middle-income nation. Though it is by no means wealthy, it is also not in economic despair. Many of the problems in Jordan stem not from lack of money, but rather its distribution throughout the country.
  3. Economic Development Is Key
    Jordan has a low rate of economic participation among its citizens, accelerating the problem of poverty. Economic development in Jordan is poor, and has led to low wages and underwhelming career opportunities that discourage citizen participation in economic activity. This helps to explain why the United States dedicated part of its foreign aid to Jordan to economic development, as this is key to lowering poverty levels.
  4. There Is No Safety Net
    Another problem in Jordan is the lack of a social welfare program that delivers meaningful benefits to unfortunate citizens. This is related to low economic activity and serves to trap citizens in poverty because there is little assistance available to allow anyone to rebound. This only deepens low economic participation rates and poverty in the country.
  5. The Budget Is Tight
    Due to multiple external stressors and government mismanagement, Jordan faces a mounting fiscal deficit, with little money available to fight growing poverty levels and low participation rates in the economy.
  6. Debt Contributes to Inflation
    The growing national debt and economic stress have led to skyrocketing inflation rates in Jordan, which the country is unequipped to properly address. This devalues money quickly for struggling individuals and discourages savings and long-term investments. Adding to this problem is the fact that combating inflation risks raising unemployment, which could further cripple citizens looking to escape poverty.
  7. Poverty Has Not Always Been This Bad
    In the early 1980s, Jordan was a relatively wealthy country, with only 3 percent of the population living below the poverty line. It was only after an economic crisis in the 1980s that poverty became a prevalent issue. The crisis hit Jordan hard, and though the economy has resumed steady growth, much of the population still feels the lasting effects.
  8. The Syrian Refugee Crisis Has Taken a Toll
    The refugee crisis created by the brutal civil war in neighboring Syria has left Jordan reeling. Thousands of civilians have poured into the country in search of solace from the conflict, putting more economic strain on the country and adding thousands of people living below the poverty line.
  9. Many Live at the Margins
    Studies in Jordan have found that the majority of citizens living in poverty are either slightly below or above the poverty line. This indicates the fluctuations that surround poverty in Jordan, with many citizens constantly falling back beneath the poverty line after rising just above for a short time.
  10. Solutions Exist
    The problem of poverty in Jordan is vast and at times feels difficult to grasp and control, but solutions to the crisis are available. Further increasing foreign aid to the country to assist in economic development would help the nation cope, especially given its current refugee intake. So, too, would the development of joint programs with the United Nations to improve health conditions. Such aid is vital and could help Jordan evolve into a keystone of stability in a region known for political strife.

These 10 poverty in Jordan facts have outlined the basics of Jordan’s political and economic problems that have led to high rates of poverty and many of the solutions available. In order to secure a peaceful future for the Middle East, it is vital that the United States continues its investment in allied countries in the region and prevent further political instability.

– Shane Summers

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to JordanJordan is a Middle Eastern region tucked in between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan in many different ways.

  1. Foreign aid boosts American exports.
    USAID provides assistance for medium to small-scale enterprises, employing up to 75 percent of Jordan’s workforce. As a result of funding business development since 2006, tens of thousands of jobs have been created, yielding $1 billion in new investment. Since then, exports from Jordan to the U.S. have increased by almost $50 million.
  1. Trade with Jordan supports jobs in the U.S.
    The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan in a multitude of ways, but it also benefits from trade. Jordan currently ranks sixty-seventh among the largest U.S. trading partners. The U.S. and Jordan entered a Free Trade Agreement in 2001, eventually eliminating business tariffs for bilateral trade in goods and services, a huge benefit for U.S. companies. According to the latest data, U.S. exports of goods and services to Jordan supported an estimated 11,000 American jobs in the year 2015.
  1. Jordan is a peace broker in the Middle East.
    Nestled in the heart of the Arab Spring, Jordan is a voice for moderation, peace and reform in the Middle East, a region saturated with turmoil. Jordan’s central geographic position creates pressure on the Jordanian government for economic and democratic reform. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan by strengthening the Middle Eastern nation’s political and economic processes, which in turn counters terrorist groups such as ISIL and promotes the Middle East peace process.
  1. Jordan assists with the refugee crisis.
    Jordan is a haven for many Syrian and Iraqi refugees. U.S. aid supports a bilateral relationship by helping Jordan temporarily absorb over 635,000 Syrian refugees and 52,000 Iraqi refugees. The influx of refugees is a challenge for the Jordanian government, but with a strong agenda for political and economic reform, and with the help of U.S. aid, Jordan serves as a partner with the U.S. in addressing the Syrian refugee conflict.
  1. Foreign Aid increases American influence and interests.
    The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan because it helps boost international leadership. Foreign aid puts America on an influential level in international politics. When U.S. foreign aid is promoting a region, it boosts American interests. The Middle East faces a complex regional conflict, which affects American soil with terrorism and refugee crises. By contributing to humanitarian aid and development, American interests hold more power.

Assistance to the Middle East and North Africa has been a highly debated topic in the United States, particularly in the recent past with President Trump’s administration’s proposed 2018 budget cut targeting international aid. In truth, there are many ways the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jordan greatly.

– Alex Galante

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sustainable Water Solutions in Jordan Also Fuel Diplomatic Progress
Scientists and officials worldwide project that shortages of safe, potable water will be one of the biggest global problems of the 21st century. As the world population continues to expand, water shortages have the potential to drive conflict and to stress systems of regional power. In areas where peace and stability are already tenuous, anxieties about access to safe water threaten to upset these fragile balances.

The Middle East and Water Insecurity

The Middle East is a focal point for potential conflicts about water insecurity. Fortunately, nations in this generally arid region are investing in solutions to the vital problem. The Kingdom of Jordan, for example, is turning a few unconventional solutions to gain water security for its citizens.

Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project

The cornerstone of developing sustainable water solutions in Jordan is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project. Alongside desalination and gaining access to unusually deep aquifers, the Read-Dead project, as it is commonly known, is hailed as a “perpetual” solution to water supply in Jordan. The program has the ambitious goal of connecting the landlocked Dead Sea with the Red Sea, the large body of water separating Asia from Africa.

“The national water carrier project is a mid-term solution to the country’s water crisis, but the desalination of Red Sea water under the Red-Dead project is the country’s long-term solution to water scarcity,” said Omar Salameh, from Jordan’s Water Ministry.

Continuous Supply of Water for Jordanians

Once complete, Jordanian officials will be able to resupply the Dead Sea nearly continuously from an oceanic source. Along with modern desalination methods, this achievement will unlock a nearly continuous supply of water for the arid, rapidly growing country. Despite other immediate efforts, the Red-Dead project is the capstone of a suite of sustainable water solutions in Jordan.

The project also stands to have important diplomatic results for the region. Besides the relief in tensions that can come from one nation in the region having better water security, the Red-Dead project stands to benefit other nations besides Jordan as well. Israel and the Palestinian territories border the Dead Sea also, and the Sea has been losing volume for decades. With the solidarity that can come from sharing a common resource, sustainable water solutions in Jordan could have inordinately positive impacts on regional relations as a whole.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

Jordan is a rather small, almost completely landlocked country located in the Middle East. Though small, it remains one of the more stable countries in the region, and it has welcomed over three million refugees from Syria and Palestine. With a small economy, foreign investors can tap into the growing number of skilled workers there.

Because of its semi-arid landscape, Jordan’s GDP makeup consists of industrial works such as mining and manufacturing. There is a severe lack of natural resources and agricultural, especially because the nation has the second least water per capita in the world. However, because of projects in intelligent and sustainable agriculture in Jordan, the country is still growing and improving livelihood for all its citizens.

A main focus for sustainable agriculture in Jordan is utilizing water effectively to generate income and food. For example, over the past several years, the Near East Foundation (NEF) has focused on fish farming. Instead of attempting to plant, grow and risk wasting water in arid plains, NEF uses reservoirs that both irrigate plant foods and double as fishponds. Through technical support, promoting local fish feed and other programs, NEF has helped produce 400 tons of tilapia a year in Jordan so farmers can supplement between traditional growing seasons.

Alternatively, some programs focus on cleaning the already existing water. Royal HaskoningDHV, an NGO from the Netherlands, recently won a contract to help restore the Lower Jordan River. In the past 60 years, the ecology of the river has changed drastically, with waste and saline water degrading the natural ecosystem. With an investment of $4.58 billion, Royal HaskoningDHV’s “master plan” will be positively impacting the river until 2050.

Even in the desert, farming continues, such as on the Rum Farm in South Jordan where 720 km of desert mountains and caverns reside. Through ancient and modern sustainable techniques, this farm has been able to cultivate a 2,000-hectare farm in an area where the monthly rainfall is five millimeters. Established in 1986, a key geographical aspect underground, a natural aquifer, allows for this farm to have abundant agriculture as farmers pull water from below. With pivoting water mechanisms, and modern polyplastic tunnels to store water, the farm employs 300 to 600 workers each season and produces thousands of tons of foodstuffs.

While it may not be the main economic power in the country, sustainable agriculture in Jordan has been able to flourish even under intense environmental pressures. With continued growth and support from projects similar to the aforementioned, they will be able to sustain an agricultural sector that defines itself by innovation and stability.

– Nick McGuire

Photo: Flickr