Amman, August 24, 2020— The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the World Bank virtually signed yesterday a US$8.8 million grant agreement to support Jordanian municipalities affected by the influx of Syrian refugees to scale-up their delivery of services and employment opportunities to Jordanians and Syrians. The grant will also contribute to offset the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of municipal services in Jordan.
Jordan is currently hosting nearly 1.3 million Syrian refugees, more than 80 percent of whom live in host communities. This has significantly strained the country’s systems and added pressure on basic service delivery in water, sanitation, electricity, solid waste management, health and education.
This new grant represents the third additional financing to the Municipal Services and Social Resilience Project, initially launched in October 2013 as an emergency operation to help Jordanian municipalities address the immediate service delivery impact of refugee influx and strengthen municipal capacity to support local economic development. The project then received two additional financing allocations in December 2016 and December 2017, and its scope was revised to include the delivery of services and employment opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian refugees. The cumulative contributions under this project since 2013 amounted to over US$102 million.
“Municipalities have an important role to play, not only in delivering services to host communities and refugees but also in building resilience at the local level,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “With the support of the international community, Jordan has demonstrated a commendable resolve and ability to address the strain of the refugee crisis by providing immediate emergency humanitarian assistance and then shifting to building the medium-term resilience of communities with a stronger focus on institutional and systems development.”
The Municipal Services and Social Resilience Project is estimated to have benefited over two million people directly or indirectly - of whom 15 percent are Syrian refugees - by providing block grants to municipalities in two cycles spanning 18 months each. In the first cycle, 41 sub-projects were selected through extensive community consultations in 21 municipalities, 31 of which have been completed. These sub-projects support critical community priorities in service delivery and local economic development, including parks, playgrounds, public and green spaces, street pavements, solid waste management, drainage and flood protection systems, street lights, solar farms, and the provision of equipment for solid waste and other services.
“The Government of Jordan continues to mark unremitting efforts in implementing its national decentralization framework by strengthening municipal capacity to support local economic development, as well as addressing immediate service delivery impacts of Syrian Refugee inflows and creating job opportunities for both Jordanians and Syrians,” said Dr. Wissam Rabadi, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation. “At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Jordan has intensified its efforts to preserve the health and safety of all those living in Jordan, including Syrian refugees. This additional grant will place a higher emphasis on the sustainability and responsiveness of municipalities in delivering basic services to their communities and enabling them to support their disinfection, cleaning, and other sanitary efforts.”
The lockdown that was imposed from March until May 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Jordan has implied an increase in the operating costs of municipalities due to shifting scarce resources to provide emergency supplies for disinfection activities in municipalities and fuel for operating vehicles. The lockdown and government closure have also implied delays in the receipt by municipalities of their fiscal transfers, coupled with a significant reduction in self-generated revenues.
Implemented by the Ministry of Local Administration in coordination with the Cities and Villages Development Bank, this additional grant is financed from the Multi-Donor Municipal Services and Social Resilience Trust Fund, comprising of the United Kingdom Department of International Development, as well as the Governments of Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States Agency for International Development, which is being administered by the World Bank.
“The UK stands with Jordan as it deals with coronavirus and I am pleased to announce further UK aid funding to boost job opportunities, support economic recovery and back key services in its town and cities,” said James Cleverly, UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa. “No one is safe until we are all safe. Helping to stop the disease in the Middle East benefits us all, by preventing future waves of infection spreading globally, and lessening the economic impact of the virus.”
The project has also successfully launched an Innovation Fund which provides competitive grants for sub-projects based on criteria such as labor-intensive works and high share of women and youth as direct beneficiaries, as well as collaboration across municipalities with other stakeholders. Of the 30 proposals submitted by 25 municipalities at concept stage, nine proposals have been approved for funding. These include, sub-projects with social and economic benefits such as a sewing factory, a product exhibits, tourist area development, parks and community centers, among others. The municipalities have proposed these subprojects in partnership with the private sector, civil society and other municipalities; bringing in additional resources to contribute to economic development and job creation, especially as these municipalities emerge from the COVID-19 emergency situation. The project aims to generate a total of 110,000 workdays of employment through labor-intensive public works, which is being implemented for the first time in the municipal sector in Jordan.
“The Greater Karak Municipality is looking forward to this grant being a gateway to creativity and leadership for the youth in Karak Governorate and a primary incubator for creativity at the local development level especially for youth and women,” said Ibrahim Al Karaki, Mayor, Greater Karak Municipality.
The project encompasses key actions to promote women’s voice and role particularly in decision-making, and enhance women’s economic opportunities by addressing constraints to women’s labor force participation. The project requires minimum representation targets of at least 30% women in community consultations. As a result, women on average formed 67% of the innovation fund sub-project selection participants across municipalities. Key scoring criteria under the innovation fund also require 60% of women and youth as direct beneficiaries, giving preference to proposals that create jobs for women and youth.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.