The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an upper middle-income country located in the heart of the Middle East region. Despite its small size and limited resources, the country was able to achieve significant progress in the fields of socio-economic development, food security, education and poverty alleviation. That said, challenges related to a dramatic population increase coupled with the repercussions of the global food, fuel and financial crises have undermined many of the economic gains the country has made.
The agricultural sector, a source of income for more than 15 percent of the population, continues to grapple with the challenges of scarce water supply, recurrent drought, urbanization and desertification, consequently producing no more than 8 to 10 percent of cereal requirements. Over 90 percent of cereal needs are imported, making the country vulnerable to international food price rises.
The high volatility of the regional political context places extra burden on Jordan. Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, Jordan has shouldered the impact of a massive Syrian refugee influx across its borders. Today, those refugees account for nearly 15 percent of the kingdom’s population, placing substantial pressure on its over-stretched resources at one of the most difficult economic periods in its history.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in Jordan since 1964. In recent years, WFP has been working with the Government and national organizations to create economic and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable and food insecure Jordanians while assisting over half a million Syrians residing in the country through an e-voucher programme.
WFP also supports government efforts to invest in the next generation through school meals programmes that encourage school enrolment and retention and promotes activities to enhance the economy, agriculture and national development of Jordan, creating more jobs for vulnerable Jordanians and allowing Syrian refugees the opportunity to be self-sufficient.
In 2016, Jordan has become the first country in the world where WFP uses the innovative iris scan payment system to provide food assistance to the people it supports. Under this system, Syrian refugees in camps can buy their food from WFP supermarkets using nothing but their eye. No cash, voucher or credit card needed.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Jordan
WFP is assisting the government in implementing a national school meals programme reaching up to 350,000 school children in the most vulnerable and food insecure areas. WFP is also providing school feeding in camps for Syrian refugees.
WFP assists vulnerable Jordanians affected by the extended economic crisis through cash and food transfers. Alongside food assistance to meet immediate needs, WFP runs food-for-assets/training activities that allow young men and women to hone their professional skills and improve their chances of employment.
Assistance for Syrian refugees
WFP is providing food assistance to over 560,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan. Refugees in camps receive their payments through an iris scan platforms, while those living outside camps receive electronic vouchers to be spent in local shops. This has contributed to the local economy through job creation and additional tax revenues. WFP also distributes fresh bread to refugees living in camps.