Jordan 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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