With the conflict in Syria entering its fifth year in 2015, Jordan is hosting 1.4 million Syrians, of whom 646,700 are refugees. Eighty-five per cent of refugees live outside camps in some of the poorest areas of the country, and a significant proportion are classified as extremely vulnerable. Approximately 23.5 per cent of all Syrian refugees are women, and almost 53 per cent are children, 18 per cent of whom are under five years of age.
Providing for their needs has impacted heavily on Jordan’s public finances, increasing government expenditure on subsidies, public services, and security, while further compounding the negative economic consequences of regional instability. In some municipalities refugees outnumber residents, and the impact on inflation, employment, and access to public services and community resources has fuelled local tensions and threatened to spark wider social unrest. The government’s response to the crisis has been baked by national and international agencies, but there is a growing acknowledgement that current life-saving humanitarian funding and programming are neither sustainable nor sufficient, and should be complemented by a more development-oriented approach to build national resilience and sustain the level and quality of services provided.
A Nationally Owned and Led Plan
The Jordan Response Plan 2015 (JRP} seeks to bridge the divide between resilience and humanitarian systems, and reconcile the programming objectives, funding mechanisms and operating systems that often run parallel to each other in addressing short-term people-centered needs, in addition to medium and longer-term systemic and institutional considerations.
The JRP 2015 adopts a resilience-based approach to respond to and mitigate the effects of the Syria crisis on Jordan and Jordanian host communities. The aim of resilience-oriented programming is two-fold, first to ensure that shocks and stresses do not lead to a long-term deterioration in the wellbeing of a particular individual, household, system or institution, and secondly to build capacity to absorb future shocks and deal appropriately with related stresses.
The JRP 2015 presents a one-year programme to consolidate all major national and international efforts to address the Syria crisis within the framework of a coordinated broad-spectrum response. Rather than creating rhetorical linkages between short-term humanitarian interventions and development goals, the JRP embeds the refugee response into national development plans, helping to implement sustainable service delivery systems that meet the needs of both refugees and vulnerable host communities. This approach will help to ensure that, in line with the principles of national ownership, alignment, and harmonisation adopted in the Paris Declaration, the response is led by the government and all emergency, short, medium and longer-term interventions are integrated, sequenced and complemented.
The JRP 2015 seeks to implement a series of interventions that will:
• Meet the immediate needs of Syrian refugees both in and out of camps, as well as vulnerable Jordanians affected by the crisis.
• Support the government budget to cope with the additional financial obligations and income losses resulting from the Syria crisis.
• Rapidly scale-up critical government capacities to plan, programme, coordinate and implement a more resilience-oriented response, with the ability to manage and mitigate the impact of the Syria crisis in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.
• Strengthen the capacities and resilience of the health, education, justice, and water and sanitation service systems at local and national levels and mitigate the negative impact of high concentrations of refugees on service delivery sectors.
• Restore and reinforce municipal services and infrastructure degraded as a result of the sharp demand increases in critically affected sectors, in particular solid waste management, housing, environment, energy and transport.
• Rapidly expand employment and livelihood opportunities, and strengthen the coping capacities of vulnerable Jordanians who have been impacted by the crisis.
• Address social imbalances and strengthen social cohesion in Jordanian communities hosting large numbers of refugees.
Sector Response Strategies
The plan is composed of eleven sector strategies, each guided by an overall objective that will be met through the realisation of specific refugee assistance and resilience-building objectives.
• The Education sector strategy seeks to ensure sustained quality educational services for all refugees and for vulnerable Jordanians affected by the crisis.
• The Energy sector response strategy proposes to meet the additional power required in urban areas as a result of refugees’ needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, while building on existing capacities and initiatives.
• The Environment sector response proposes to develop government capacity to mainstream environmental sustainability across all JRP interventions by building its capacity to identify environmental risks and opportunities and ensure that they are taken into account as early as possible.
• The Health strategy aims to reinforce the centrality of the national health system to the Syria crisis response. The response spans a range of activities from direct interventions that ensure short-term lifesaving needs of refugees are met, and extends to systemic investments that reinforce the national health system’s capacity to cope with the increased patient load.
• The Justice sector response plan aims to address critical short and medium term needs common to both Syrian refugees and Jordanians, and entails significant improvements to the institutional capacity of the judicial system.
• The Livelihoods and Food Security response plans are tailored to address both the impact of the Syria crisis and the underlying vulnerabilities exacerbated by the high influx of refugees. The response thus aims to protect food security for all and enable livelihoods to cope with, and recover from, the impact of the Syria crisis, while strengthening their capacity to adapt to future shocks.
• The Local Governance and Municipal Services sector plan targets major improvements in service delivery performance in the most affected municipalities, including urgently required investment and capacity building in municipal services and infrastructure.
• The Shelter sector response includes camp extension works in Azraq, assistance to complete unfinished housing units and renovate sub-standard housing, cash-for-rent for extremely vulnerable households, and institutional reforms to address structural weaknesses in the housing market.
• The Social Protection sector response plan includes a wide range of activities to ensure refugees’ access to international protection is improved, and that both refugees and vulnerable Jordanians affected by the crisis have access to improved social protection.
• The Transport sector strategy aims to accommodate increased traffic flows and improve transport system efficiency in governorates with high concentrations of refugees. Its major focus is on expanding the capacity of road networks in the northern governorates.
• The Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector plan strives to enhance government capacity to meet the increase in demand for water and sanitation services, particularly in host communities. The response focuses on a number of projects that link refugee assistance in Za’atari and Azraq camps with medium term resilience-oriented interventions, such as rehabilitation of water supply infrastructure, expansion of wastewater treatment plants, and the extension of sewer systems in urban areas with a large refugee population.