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Waste management as chance both for people and their environment

The longer the Syrian crisis persists, the more important it is for the refugees and the local population in neighbouring countries to find sustainable income opportunities. That is why Caritas employs 900 people every day in the waste management sector, helping them to generate an income.


Country / Region / Place
Jordan / Jerash municipality

Target group
105 Syrian refugee and Jordanian households, covering 525 vulnerable persons (60% / 40%); Jerash Municipality and inhabitants (108,500 persons).

Funding requirement
CHF 599,328

Project duration
01.02.2018 - 31.05.2019

Project number

Project objective
To contribute to the resilience goal of the Regional Refugee Resilience Plan through strengthened local service delivery and improved access to income generating opportunities for vulnerable Syrian refugees and host communities in the solid waste management sector in Jerash, Jordan.

Project coordinator
Richard Asbeck, Tel. 041 419 22 29, rasbecknot shown@caritasto make life hard for spam

Humanitarian Aid abroad


Background information

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, Jordan has one of the highest per capita ratios of refugees worldwide. The drastic increase in population affects the economic and social situation of the whole country. Water infrastructure, sanitary facilities, healthcare and education are increasingly under pressure. Among others, the growing waste production endangers the environment and the scarce natural resources. In some municipalities, the amount of waste produced doubled over the past years. The municipalities are unable to meet these heightened demands and need support to provide a cleaner, healthier and more productive environment.

Jerash, in the north of Jordan, is one of the municipalities struggling to contain its growing waste volume. It has a total population of 108’500. In addition, an estimated 80’000 Syrian refugees are either living in Jerash or commuting daily to the city in search of day labour in the construction and service sectors. Jerash lacks a solid waste management system that streamlines waste collection and facilitates recycling. Besides weighing heavily on the municipality’s budget, the increasing waste volume hence places an unnecessarily high burden on the environment and threatens Jerash’s tourist industry, which is a major source of income for the local economy.

Meanwhile, the long-enduring refugee crisis, the decreasing international support and the lack of income-generating opportunities have brought the more than 670 000 refugees in the whole of Jordan, also in Jerash, into a very precarious situation.  «We have no money, and now the UNO is cutting the food vouchers. What are my children to live on?» said Muhamed, who, as early as 2015, had fled from Syria to Jordan with his eight children. 


What are we doing?

Emergency aid on its own is not sufficient to provide people with perspectives and sustainable, reinforcing measures. While the crisis endures, the transition to more sustainable forms of aid, aimed at building livelihoods and resilience both at an individual and a systemic level, gain importance. This project therefore strengthens public service delivery in the waste management sector in the long-term, while integrating medium-term relief measures to support impoverished Syrian refugees and Jordanians in covering their basic needs.

To this aim, Caritas Switzerland and its local partner Caritas Jordan  build on the achievements of previous projects and work with Jerash municipality to pursue the long-term goal of establishing a municipal solid waste management system in Jerash. The municipality is supported in taking its first sorting station into operation and in establishing a business plan to market the recyclables recovered at the facility. This will have the triple effect of increasing the municipality’s revenue by selling recovered materials, reducing the costs for waste transportation, and limiting environmental hazards.

At the same time, waste collection and sorting is a labour provides income-generating opportunities for low-skilled workers who find it hard to get into the labour market. Thus, 105 cash workers are hired on short-term contracts in the context of this project to deliver 470 man-months of work. As part of this cash-for-work scheme, they are trained in waste collection or sorting, as well as labour laws and protection from health hazards. As the workers’ income will also benefit their families, an estimated 525 persons will receive support through the project and are expected to reduce their use of detrimental strategies to deal with the effects of poverty. Such negative coping strategies include sending children to work instead of school, falling deeper into debt, or reducing the number of meals eaten per day. The previous project showed that the supported households reduced their use of negative coping strategies by at least 20% on average.

Caritas also implements awareness raising campaigns to promote sorting and recycling in the community. These campaigns set the stage for more efficient and effective recovery of valuable materials and support a systemic change in waste treatment by distributing information material and sorting containers.

In parallel, Caritas continues to liaise with key local, national and international stakeholders. This will ensure that the local action is in line with developments in the national approach to waste management in link with nation-wide initiatives to formalize and professionalise public service delivery in cooperation with the private sector. 


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