© WFP/Mohammad Batah
Jordan is an upper middle-income country, with a population of 10 million, of which 2.9 million are non-citizens, including refugees. It is a resource-poor, food-deficit country with limited agricultural land, no oil resources and a scarce water supply.
Jordan is considered a food secure country with a score of 11.2 on the 2018 Global Hunger Index, indicating that the level of hunger is moderate. However, food security is challenged by a multitude of structural and political factors, such as high poverty rates, unemployment, slow economic growth and increased cost of living, with marked disparities between regions and population groups. A small proportion of vulnerable Jordanians receive cash or food assistance from the National Aid Fund and local NGOs, but social safety net coverage remains limited.
Jordan’s economy has been growing steadily benefiting from a strategic location and a well-educated workforce. However, adverse regional developments, particularly the Syria and Iraq crises, caused this progress to slow, placing significant strains on the country’s socio-economic foundations and local resources.
Jordan’s exceptional solidarity with the 1.3 million Syrians it hosts, including 670,000 registered as refugees with UNHCR (79 percent living in host communities versus 21 percent in camps) has tested the country’s resilience over time. While humanitarian assistance is acting as a buffer, food security amongst Syrian refugees in Jordan remains precarious. According to the 2018 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, less than one in four Syrian refugees (23 percent) are food secure, compared to 28 percent in 2016.
While Jordan ranks 139/144 in the 2018 Global Gender Gap, its Gender Inequality Index has been improving over the last years. The education system has virtually no gender gap in primary enrollment and women represent 52 percent of university students. Yet Jordan has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation (below 14 percent versus 63.6 for men) pointing towards structural obstacles as well as cultural and societal pressures facing women.
WFP has been a strategic and operational partner of the Government of Jordan since 1964 assisting vulnerable and food insecure Jordanians and, most recently, supporting the national management of the refugee crisis and its consequences.
WFP’s operations are innovative, rely on new technologies and contribute to the national economy. Jordan was the first country in the world where WFP used the innovative Blockchain technology to support its cash transfers to Syrian refugees.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Jordan
COVID-19 responseWFP supports the Government’s response to the pandemic and provides food assistance to vulnerable communities, including refugees, while taking measures to contain the spread of the virus. WFP deployed mobile ATM to help people with disabilities or those who live in remote areas access assistance. WFP supports the National Aid Fund – Jordan’s largest social protection programme – with technical assistance and has provided 20,000 Jordanians with virtual financial literacy information sessions.to support the enrolment and remote opening of mobile wallets protection.
Food assistance to refugeesWFP meets the basic food requirements of nearly 500,000 refugees through cash assistance. This includes Syrians living in camps and the community, along with around 10,000 refugees from other countries like Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. WFP uses innovative technologies like blockchain and iris scanners to give refugees living inside camps access to the assistance, while refugees living outside of camps use ATMs to withdraw cash or use e-cards at one of the 200 contracted shops across the country.
Emergency preparedness and responseWFP provides tools, systems and training to the Government to enhance its own emergency preparedness and response, leveraging WFP’s extensive experience and expertise in the planning and delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Strengthening social protection schemesWFP works with the Government to strengthen the national social protection programme and provides technical and financial support, focusing on two key national schemes: the National Aid Fund and the National School Meals Programme (NSMP). WFP supports the implementation of the NSMP, continuing a partnership with the Ministry of Education that goes back to the mid-seventies, when a school feeding programme was first started.
School feedingWFP directly supports the Ministry of Education with the delivery of the National School Meals Programme, ensuring that more than 420,000 of the most vulnerable Jordanian and refugee children have access to nutritious snacks at school. The programme also provides jobs for around 700 workers who prepare the meals in 17 kitchens across the country. Women and people with disabilities are continuously encouraged to fill these roles.
Sustainable income-generating solutionsWFP provides income-generating and training opportunities to around 40,000 vulnerable people every year, with a focus on women, youth and people with disabilities. WFP helps address the social and economic barriers that hinder these groups’ participation in the workforce.