Homelessness in JordanHomelessness is a major issue that almost all countries face around the world. There are many explanations for high rates of homelessness, such as mental health, addiction, unemployment, previous imprisonment and more. However, Jordan presents some of the lowest rates of homelessness across the entire world. In fact, homelessness in Jordan ceases to exist.

In 2017, the Ministry of Social Development in Jordan only reported sixteen cases of homelessness from 2000-2017. The vast majority of these cases (15/16) were accredited to mental health problems, and the sixteenth case consisted of a man who was unemployed and had recently lost his family.

Additionally, all sixteen of these individuals were taken care of and are no longer homeless. The Ministry of Social Development worked to place these citizens in mental health facilities or reconnect them with family members who can help them.

Reasons Why Jordan Has Low Rate of Homelessness

One of the main explanations for a low rate of homelessness in Jordan is its collectivist, tribal culture. A study conducted by Joshua Ahearn reveals that the Jordanian government is not responsible for solving issues of homelessness and instead, homelessness is remedied by family and community members.

Ahearn discusses how Jordanian tribal culture prioritizes taking care of family and members of a neighborhood regardless of an individual’s situation. For example, community members place shame on families who struggle with addiction. As a result, families take it upon themselves to help their own who may be struggling and bring them out of homelessness. Communities, or “tribal members” as Ahearn calls them are rather large so there are always people with resources that are willing to help.

How Jordanians View Homeless Individuals

Additionally, Ahearn created a survey in order to observe how citizens treat homeless people in their neighborhood, another part of Jordan, or even a non-Jordanian homeless citizen. This study showed that the vast majority of people take action rather than just passing by a struggling individual.

For instance, the findings explained that when approaching a homeless person in their neighborhood, citizens are “extremely likely to give money or engage in other actions such as informing the public or inviting them into their home.” Furthermore, for citizens outside of their community or non-Jordanian citizens, people are more likely to call a social service organization to get help or assistance. The Ministry of Social Development is the main organization that directly helps these individuals escape homelessness rather quickly, largely by contacting family members or a mental health facility.

Impact of Collectivist Culture on Homelessness Rates

Overall, homelessness in Jordan does not exist consistently. The main reason for the lack of homelessness can be traced to the strong tribal and community ties that are present throughout Jordan. Citizens work together to eradicate all causes of homelessness and as a result, the government does not need to combat homelessness with structural programs; in fact, government interference and other organizations have “no impact” on homelessness rates.

This approach would be rather difficult to implement in other countries since Jordan’s lack of homelessness is rooted in cultural values and community which could clash with existing values and priorities of other countries. In particular, a study conducted in the United States and South Korea compared the impact of a collectivist (South Korea) and individualist (United States) culture on homelessness. This study revealed that South Korea’s collectivist culture instilled a reliance on peers and family members for overcoming homelessness and strategies for helping themselves. Contrarily, United States citizens utilized social services and other organizations more than friends and family.

As a result, collectivist cultures, such as Africa and Asia, can learn from Jordan and South Korea when working to reduce their homeless populations. While all collectivist cultures may not be identical to Jordan in their lack of homelessness, investing in and encouraging neighborhoods and communities to help their own can yield positive results and less homelessness.

How Adopting a Jordanian Approach to Homelessness Can Help

Furthermore, many governments still have a Ministry of Social Development or an organization like it that can provide more services to those who require additional resources. Therefore, if governments and NGOs want and need to become involved in reducing homelessness, increasing support to these organizations can be beneficial. Then, governments can encourage reaching out to service groups like the Ministry of Social Development when they see a neighbor or friend in need if they do not have the ability to care for the homeless on their own.

This strategy can also be utilized by more individual, “Western cultures” like the United States. It is unlikely that the approach to homelessness in Jordan would carry over into these cultures. Instead, individualist countries can pump money and resources into their version of the Ministry and Social Development and teach citizens to request aid when they come across a homeless citizen. However, this approach would require breaking the stigma associated with homelessness and the “laziness” that many individualist cultures attribute to this way of life. But the Jordanian method can be altered to fit the needs of each culture in order to see a decrease in homelessness.

Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Pixabay

Syrian Refugees in Jordan
Recently, the Syrian War has caused a large influx of refugees to make their way to Jordan. Since the start of the conflict, Jordan has seen an increase of about 1.3 million Syrian refugees. Of these Syrian refugees in Jordan, about 17% live in dangerous conditions within displacement camps. The other 83% may also face extreme levels of poverty and often cannot establish a livelihood to feed their families.

Hunger Reduction for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Hunger is particularly an issue for Syrian refugees who live in Jordanian camps. In comparison, hunger for average Jordanians is relatively minimal. The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Integrated Context Analysis (ICA) demonstrates the differences in hunger throughout the area. The WFP’s ICA is a map that includes analysis of which populations are most vulnerable and food insecure. The population of Syrian refugees in Jordan is currently the most desperate in terms of need and food insecurity.

This ICA can help through the identification of broad national programmatic strategies, which can consist of resilience strengthening, disaster risk mitigation and implementing social protections. ICAs can also identify sectors wherein food security monitoring and assessment are necessary. The ICA categorizes the country’s districts into categories that it labels one through five, representing which areas face the most critical food insecurity needs. On the map, the Syrian refugee camps on the border of Jordan showed the most severe essential food security issues.

Syrian Refugee Displacement Camps

Displacement camps for Syrian refugees exist at the edge of Jordan and Syria. Salah Daraghmeh, the Médecins Sans Frontières representative for Syrian refugees, commented on their high risk. He stated that Syrian refugees who have escaped death from conflict and war, become more at risk of dying from preventable conditions, like dehydration and illness, during the process of resettling in Jordan. Refugees at the border of Jordan often sleep in the desert, where they have limited access to food, water and medical supplies. Additionally, refugees use holes in the ground as toilets and have to live in makeshift tents. Refugees frequently die from dehydration, scorpion stings and drinking contaminated water.

Organizations Helping Syrian Refugees

Action Against Hunger is one organization that has taken a stand to end hunger for Syrian refugees in Jordan.  The most urgent need for these refugees is providing access to livelihoods in Jordan, which should enable them to feed their families. Action Against Hunger was able to open a base in December 2019 in Madaba, Jordan. This base provides water, hygiene, food, sanitation and potential livelihoods for Syrian refugees. It also offers waste management programs and “Cash for Work” to enhance the lives of Syrian refugees.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) also does valuable work in Jordan. The IRC focuses primarily on health care, mobile outreach and empowerment/employment programs. On a practical level, it offers skill training, counseling, recreational activities, cash assistance and employment opportunities. The IRC’s goals for 2020 include improving refugee’s health, safety, education and economic well-being. Its action plan for 2020 includes focusing on these goals by providing direct aid. The IRC’s mission is to grant assistance to those whose livelihoods disaster and conflict have ruined so that they may survive, recover and become independent again. Its efforts are particularly significant in repairing the lives of Syrian refugees, who have suffered immensely.

After fleeing life in Syria, refugees face additional struggles while living in Jordan. From food scarcity, dangerous conditions and difficulties adapting to Jordanian life, Syrian refugees have to combat many issues even after leaving their war-torn country. To help overcome these problems, the Jordanian government has partnered with Action Against Hunger and the International Rescue Committee. These organizations seek to provide a resilience-based approach to help Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

The country of Jordan is the fifth most water-scarce country in the world, following Iran, and is labeled at an “extremely high” risk level. With water scarcity comes multiple risk factors, including water-borne illnesses caused by unsafe drinking water, diseases from a lack of sanitation and death by dehydration. In addition, water scarcity contributes to an increase in sexual exploitation and rape, as children, especially young girls, need to physically travel miles every day through deserts and dangerous terrain to retrieve water for their families. This then contributes to a decrease in education among girls and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in areas in Jordan and globally. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Jordan.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Jordan

  1. Climate change affects sanitation in Jordan. In most areas of the country, populations are not located near major water sources and water must be transported from distances up to 325 kilometers away. With the rise of climate change causing flash floods, unpredictable and extreme weather patterns and increased temperatures, Jordan faces difficulties accessing necessary sanitation services.
  2. Jordan faces severe water scarcity. According to UNICEF, “Jordan’s annual renewable water resources are less than 100m3 [meters cubed] per person.” This is 400 meters cubed below the threshold of 500 meters cubed, which defines water scarcity.

  3. As a result of an increase in population and industrial and agricultural capacity, Jordan is dealing with severe aquifer depletion. All 12 of Jordan’s main aquifers are declining at rates exceeding 20 meters per year, well beyond their rechargeable volumes. This is especially alarming as 60% of Jordan’s water comes from the ground.

  4. Those in vulnerable and rural areas lack sanitation resources. Proper hygiene norms, such as handwashing and showering, are taught and practiced in households. However, those in more vulnerable and rural areas often lack soap and body wash to stay clean and healthy.

  5. A large percentage of the population in Jordan don’t have access to water. Only 58% of households have direct access to a sewer connection. In comparison to the nearly half of the population in Jordan, only 0.46% of the United States population does not have access to proper plumbing services. This is an especially prevalent issue in rural areas in Jordan, where only 6% of households have a sewer connection.

  6. The Syrian refugee crisis has greatly increased the population in Jordan. As Jordan borders Syria, it has become a safe haven for more than 670,000 refugees of the Syrian civil war. Having accepted the second-highest amount of refugees in the world compared to its population in 2018, this sudden increase in population means added pressure on resources and infrastructure, as well as an increase in air pollution and waste production.

  7. The water network in Jordan has inadequate infrastructure, needing major rehabilitation. Pumps and sewer lines are old and aging. Unfortunately, Jordan’s already scarce water supply is paying the price, with up to 70% of water transported from aquifers through old pumps being lost in the northern areas of Jordan due to water leakage.
  8. The increase in population, agriculture and industry in Jordan has led to an increase in pollution and toxicity in Jordan’s water supply. Upstream abstractions of groundwater have led to an increase in salinity. Unregulated pesticides and fertilizers used for farming have exposed the water supply to dangerous nitrates and phosphorus through runoff. In addition, it is reported that about 70% of Jordan’s spring water is biologically contaminated.

  9. Foreign aid plays a positive role in improving sanitation in Jordan. To mitigate the aforementioned effects threatening Jordan’s water supply and working towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, USAID works in conjunction with the government of Jordan to build sustainable water and wastewater infrastructure, train hundreds of water experts in Jordan, promote water conservation and strengthen water governance.

  10. Profound progress is seen in the increase in access to water, hygiene services and sanitation in Jordan. From 2000 to 2015, 2,595,670 people gained access to safely managed water services and 2,212,419 people gained access to safely managed sanitation services. In addition, homelessness in Jordan is very rare, meaning open defecation and the illnesses associated with homelessness are less prevalent.

Despite Jordan’s desert climate, clean water and efficient sanitation are achievable and make up the groundwork of global prosperity. Sanitation in Jordan is of the utmost priority in ensuring that Jordan can become a durable consumer and competitor of leading nations.

 Sharon Shenderovskiy
Photo: Flickr

healthcare system in Jordan
Jordan is an Arab country located in the East Bank of the Jordan River. It has a population of 10 million people. Although one of the smaller countries in the Middle East, many know Jordan for its advanced healthcare system. The international community, along with the World Health Organization, are consistently taking notes from the Jordanian healthcare system in the hopes of applying some of its stronger elements, such as widespread insurance coverage and increased investment, to countries with weaker systems.

Facts About Healthcare in Jordan

The healthcare system in Jordan includes public and private sectors. The public sector provides a majority of Jordan’s 12,081 hospital beds. The private sector contributes to the country primarily through the provision of home healthcare. There is a total of 106 hospitals, public and private, in Jordan. Due to recent shifts in the political climate in the Middle East, Jordan has accepted a high rate of refugees. More refugees, coupled with an increase in the domestic population, has greatly increased the demand for hospitals. To keep up with the growing population and improve the healthcare system in Jordan, lawmakers implemented a national e-health system. This e-health system intends to connect all public and university hospitals, maintain organization and establish easily accessible health records for all.

Primary clinics supply rapid access medical care along with vaccinations, maternity and childcare and quick treatment for chronic conditions. Until recently, healthcare in Jordan lacked a formalized home healthcare system. Without this system, patients needing long-term care must remain in acute care facilities for weeks, even months, at a time. Since the implementation of Jordan’s home healthcare initiative in 2017, the industry has trained 300 health professionals and gained the participation of 28 healthcare facilities, both public and private. The country is currently expanding home healthcare policy while other countries in the Middle East lack a structured home healthcare system, putting Jordan at one of the most modern healthcare systems in the region.

Infant Mortality in Jordan

The infant mortality rate, one of the lowest rates in the region, stands at 13.9% and has steadily declined over the last 10 years. Furthermore, the maternal mortality rate is 62 per 100,000. This rate is much lower than the average of 420 per 100,000 live births in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The consistent betterment of the health conditions of children and infants is in part due to the universal child immunization that the country achieved in 1998. Since then, Jordan has made it a significant priority to improve the conditions of healthcare that it provides to women and children. Unfortunately, this priority does not stand true in most countries surrounding Jordan.

National Health Policy and Organization

Given Jordan’s sectoral organization of the healthcare system, the country has one of the most modern systems in the region. Its high expenditure in healthcare goes toward developing newer methods of treatment and expanding healthcare accessibility sets Jordan apart from other countries. In 2003, the healthcare expenditure comprised about 10.4% of Jordan’s GDP. Each sector has its own independent financial and managerial systems that reflect the regulation and delivery of services. This distribution of regulation allows for the country to target and improve specific elements of its healthcare system.

In the last decade, Jordan has reformed and improved its health information systems and human resources teams. Additionally, Jordan’s government introduced a National Health Insurance system to provide large-scale accessibility to health insurance to a large part of the country’s population. Overall, the net population of insured individuals in the last four years was around 55%. However, in other countries surrounding Jordan like Egypt, healthcare insurance coverage relies heavily on an individual’s financial status and income. As a result, only those who are very well-off receive effective coverage.

Given the recent changes in prioritization of the healthcare system in Jordan, the country has improved its standard of care greatly in the last 10 years. Compared with other Middle Eastern nations, Jordan stands out with its advanced healthcare system. Currently, though, the healthcare assistance that Jordan provides to Syrian refugees begins to decline due to financial burdens on its budget. Therefore, continued support from the U.N. is necessary to sustain refugee healthcare accessibility.

– Taleen Avitsian 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Palestinian Refugee Camps
The first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 resulted in the mass, forced displacement of approximately 750,000 people throughout the Middle East, including in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Today, over 5 million Palestinian refugees live in the region, where socio-economic issues, health conditions, food security, education and living conditions are all deteriorating, plunging refugees deeper into poverty. This article will discuss poverty in Palestinian refugee camps and what some are doing to alleviate the situation.

The Gaza Strip

There are 1.4 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, and according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the poverty rate increased to 53 percent by the end of 2017, from 38.8 percent in 2011. The poverty line in Palestine is at $4.60 per day to cover the minimum needs of a household, basic health care and education. Nonetheless, 656,000 people live in absolute poverty in Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza with less than $3.60 per day, which only suffices to cover food, clothing and shelter. This drastic increase in the poverty rate is due to several factors including the volatile nature of the economy due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli blockade on land, air and sea since 2007, and the United States’ $300 million budget cut towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in 2018.

Indeed, the drastic economic conditions not only increase food insecurity in Gaza due to the lack of economic access to food but also caused the average unemployment rate to rise above 50 percent in 2018, reaching one of the highest in the world. Moreover, the United States’ decision to cut $300 million from the UNRWA’s annual budget directly impacted education and schools in refugee camps. There is a shortage of staff in Gaza schools as the UNRWA and the Ministry of Education runs over two-thirds of them on double shifts, generating overcrowded schools and so impeding students’ learning and the level of education. The continuing blockade on Gaza affects health care as medical supplies are scarce and deficient, including medication for cancer and immunological diseases. All these factors have led to the impoverishment of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, leaving an estimated 80 percent dependent on international assistance.

Syria

There are 552,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Syria, however, since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, approximately 120,000 PRS have fled to neighboring countries like Lebanon and Jordan where they have an irregular status. The poverty rate among PRS is approximately 89 percent, including 9 percent living in extreme poverty in Palestinian refugee camps.

The UNRWA stepped up its activities in the nine official camps in Syria, as well as issued a Syria regional crisis emergency appeal in 2018 stating that 95 percent of Palestine refugees in Syria was in “critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance,” and improving PRS’ living conditions.

Lebanon

The legal restrictions that the Lebanese government imposed upon refugees combined with the country not being a signatory of the U.N. Refugee Convention (recognizing the legal obligations and basic rights of refugees), jeopardizes economic, political and social aspects of the lives of Palestinian refugees. Indeed, two-thirds (160,000 people) of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are either poor or extremely poor, which is the highest percentage of people living in poverty in Palestinian refugee camps.

Palestinian refugees face strong discriminatory labor laws; only 2 percent have an official work permit, 75 percent earn below the national minimum wage of $200 per month and 95 percent have no health insurance. Moreover, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not receive full citizenship and so suffer from limited access to public services, including public schools and Lebanon’s public health system. The UNRWA provides schools and medical facilities in the country’s 12 refugee camps, however, these suffer from understaffing and limited funds, and so do not suffice to secure decent education and health care for all Palestinian refugees. Besides, the Syrian conflict caused 30,000 Palestinian refugees to move to Lebanon, adding a new dimension to the existing issue. This reinforces the declining housing conditions in the overcrowded refugee camps which lack basic infrastructures and experience continuous electrical outages.

Jordan

Jordan hosts the largest amount of Palestinian refugees in the region with over 2 million registered people. Jordan is the only host country that grants full citizenship to Palestinian refugees, integrating them more into society. However, the 158,000 Palestinian refugees coming from the Gaza strip did not receive citizenship, limiting their rights in the country and making them more prone to poverty. In addition, 17,000 Palestinian refugees left Syria and entered Jordan during the Syrian conflict, of which 30 percent were highly vulnerable, according to the UNRWA. These refugees’ irregular or uncertain legal status in Jordan as Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS) exposes them to an insecure environment including difficulties to access government services. UNRWA is in dire need of funding and financial assistance in order to protect the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees living in Jordan.

Conclusion

UNRWA provides cash assistance to over 400,000 Palestinian refugees in one of the largest cash programs in the world, and it has deeply affected poverty levels among Palestinian refugees. Indeed, cash assistance decreased the number of Palestinian refugees living in absolute poverty (under $2 per day) from 90 percent to 74 percent in 2017. However, the lack of financial aid and assistance limits the UNRWA’s activities in refugee camps, and the ongoing state of conflict in the region prevents significant improvements from occurring.

Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

10 facts about hunger in Jordan
Jordan is located in Southwest Asia with a population of 9.5 million. Although there have been improvements, the country still suffers from high rates of food insecurity. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Jordan.

10 Facts About Hunger in Jordan

  1. Food Security: According to the Global Hunger Index, Jordan is a food secure country where the levels of hunger are moderate. However, the arrival of Syrian refugees is putting pressure on food and water supplies in Jordan. Nonetheless, The World Food Programme (WFP) supports refugees in Jordan by offering them cash and food-restricted vouchers. In 2014, the organization, started its school meal program, which aimed to reach more than 320,000 schoolchildren through 2016, concentrating on the most food-insecure areas in Jordan. In addition, the program provided locally produced date bars three times a week as well as high energy biscuits and fresh fruit during the last two days of the school week.
  2. E-cards: In an effort to fight hunger, WFP created an innovative electronic voucher program known as e-cards. The e-cards are a multi-year collaboration with MasterCard that will help refugees buy their own food. Every month, the e-cards load with $27 for each family member to buy food based on their own specific needs, such as fresh produce. In addition, WFP has provided about $192 million to local economies in Jordan along with refugees in Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Aiding Syrians is WFP’s biggest and most complex emergency operation.
  3. Population: In Jordan, population increase is a major challenge that affects food and water security. In 2014, the population stood at 7,930,491 and continues to grow by 3.86 percent each year. The rise in numbers causes a strain on supplies for survival.
  4. Unemployment: According to the Department of Statistics, unemployment rose to 19 percent in the first quarter of 2019, a 0.6 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2018. The rate of unemployment among men was at 16.4 percent in comparison to 28.9 percent among women. Due to the global economic crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring, a large number of refugees and the closing of borders with Iraq and Syria all contributed to Jordan’s economic issues. The average income of Jordan decreased, making household food hard to attain and families had to opt for cheaper, less healthy food.
  5. Save the Children: Jordan’s government is struggling to provide for vulnerable refugees and Jordanians. Nonetheless, the Save the Children organization has provided aid, education and protection to children in need. Save the Children is a nonprofit that dedicates itself to helping children around the world. It has been in Jordan since 1985. The organization has protected 38,097 children from harm, supported 129,003 children in times of crisis and given 22,363 children vital nourishment.
  6. Stunting: According to UNICEF, stunting declined from 12 percent in 2002 to 8 percent in 2012, but numbers have not changed much since because of a lack of access to quality food, information on care practices and proper hygiene.
  7. Alliance Against Hunger: Jordan’s poorest people living in rural areas are the most susceptible to food and water insecurity because they own small pieces of agricultural property with low production. However, the Ministry of Agriculture has collaborated with an NGO called Alliance Against Hunger, an organization that helps strengthen agricultural production, assists in local market activity, supports micro-enterprise initiatives and helps vulnerable communities gain access to food and income. In 2018, the organization helped a total of 52,805 people. It helped 52,569 people through food security and livelihood programs and aided 165 people through water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
  8. Diet: In Jordan, the average diet is based on wheat and rice. Due to economic issues, Jordanians are transitioning into an unhealthy lifestyle of consuming a lot of sugar and carbohydrates. Consequently, this causes people, specifically women, to become obese and anemic.
  9. Food Insecurity: According to a study in the United Nations Development Program, 34 to 46 percent of households are food insecure and cannot afford to have three meals a day.
  10. CARE: Due to the influx of refugees from Iraq and Syria, food and water insecurity have been on the rise. The population will most likely double in the next two decades and water resources will become a huge problem for farmers. CARE is an NGO working around the world to end poverty. CARE has worked in Jordan since 1948 to help Palestinian refugees and continues to support Syrian refugees as well.

These 10 facts about hunger in Jordan present areas of focus and improvement to better the country and reduce food insecurity. Despite these challenges, there are several organizations that work towards helping fight food insecurity in Jordan. With the attention and support of political leaders, these issues can come to a stop.

– Merna Ibrahim
Photo: Flickr

Menstrual Hygiene for RefugeesWhen looking at menstrual hygiene for refugees, imagine for a moment, having a period while fleeing political violence or natural disaster when sanitary products and private sanitation facilities are scarce. In the Syrian refugee crisis alone, there are more than one million girls and women between the ages of 12 and 59 in need of access to menstrual hygiene. This means that 29 percent of the more than four million Syrian refugees are in need of access to menstrual hygiene.

While refugee camps make sure to provide food, shelter and clean water, many personal items are not provided. Too often, menstrual hygiene for refugees such as disposable products and private facilities not given adequate attention. In turn, many women and girls often have to rely on reusing rags or garbage, which can lead to infections. However, there are organizations working to improve access to menstrual hygiene for refugees.

Rwanda

In refugee settlements in Rwanda, more than 10,000 women and girls from Burundi struggle with maintaining menstrual hygiene. Plan International Rwanda is working to improve access to menstrual hygiene for refugees by providing 3,668 women and girls with underwear and sanitary pads. By providing them access to sanitary products, Plan International Rwanda allows girls to go to school, play with other children and feel more confident.

Uganda

The nation of Uganda has been attacking the problem of menstrual hygiene for refugees from multiple angles. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC), for example, has been distributing menstrual hygiene supplies such as reusable pads, buckets, soap, towels and undergarments. In addition, they are building latrines and carrying out community sensitization activities to destigmatize menstruation.

Reusable menstrual hygiene products have proven to be an important option for refugees. Just four reusable pads provided by the DRC can last a refugee a year. Another reusable option that has grown in popularity thanks to the NGO WoMena is the use of menstrual cups. These medical-grade silicone cups can be worn up to 12 hours at a time and are less likely to leak. One cup can also be reused for up to a decade. The organization provides training to teach refugees how to use them. This aids in destigmatizing misconceptions around its use and losing one’s virginity. Of those who decided to try these reusable cups, 81 percent reported satisfaction with the product.

Jordan

In Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee Camp, the U.K.-based non-profit, Loving Humanity has been working to not only provide sanitary products but also job opportunities. Jobs are being created by implementing 12 machines that assemble low-cost sanitary products in 2016. These machines were pioneered in India by Arunachalam Muruganantham after seeing his wife hoarding rags because she could not afford menstrual hygiene supplies. His design creates inexpensive pads by breaking down tree bark cellulose. It is very popular among rural women in India because it costs approximately 30 cents for a 10-pack of pads.

The cost of one machine is $2,000 and a month’s worth of materials is $360. This will produce 30,000 pads. In Zaatari, these machines aim to employ women in the community. This gives them a sense of empowerment and control over their bodies as well as a paycheck.

When it comes to disaster management, it is vital to include menstrual hygiene for refugees. While these methods have helped improve access to menstrual hygiene products, many refugees still have to choose between food and hygiene. Access to these supplies, though, opens a world of opportunities for girls. They can play with other kids and pursue their educations without the anxiety of stigmatization.

– Katharine Hanifen
Photo: Flickr

Rape Cases has Decreased in Jordan

In 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.

Jordan

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.  

Afghanistan

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.  

Kenya

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.

Tanzania

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   

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