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WB approves $100m in support for Syrians, host communities in Jordan

Additional financing aims at safeguarding economic growth — World Bank

By JT - Jun 13,2020 - Last updated at Jun 13,2020

The additional financing will allow for continued support to the Government of Jordan in providing such a 'global public good', while absorbing the recent shock induced by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release from the World Bank (Photo by Amjad Ghsoun)

AMMAN — The World Bank on Wednesday approved a $100 million financial assistance package to increase access to jobs and create better work conditions for Jordanians and Syrian refugees.

According to a press release from the bank, the $100 million IDA credit represents an additional financing to the “Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees” project launched back in 2016, which had a “transformative effect” on creating income-generating opportunities, including jobs and entrepreneurship and improving working conditions for Jordanians and Syrian refugees.

The additional financing to the project will expand the scope of its activities with the goal of promoting job creation and safeguarding economic growth. It will also allow for continued support to the Government of Jordan in providing such a "global public good", while absorbing the recent shock induced by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the press release.

“This new project reinforces the World Bank’s support to the Government of Jordan’s whole-of-the-community approach in dealing with the refugee crisis, especially in these difficult times,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. 

“The project is introducing several groundbreaking interventions, in particular for the social protection of workers, digital financial inclusion, promotion of women’s economic empowerment and export competitiveness. These will all contribute to improving the living conditions, economic prospects and resilience of Jordanian host communities and Syrian refugees,” he was quoted in the press release as saying.

The economic crisis expected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect informal workers the most. To address this challenge, the project will expand social security coverage for both underprivileged Jordanians and non-Jordanians. This will protect workers in the event of future job losses, the statement said.

The recent COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the power of digital financial services to keep the money flowing and the economy going. Building on the national financial inclusion strategy, the project will promote access to e-wallets for underprivileged Jordanians, women and Syrian refugees to allow them to receive income, emergency cash or unemployment insurance and to make payments in case of future health crises requiring a lockdown or restricted mobility, the press release noted.

“Over the past decade, Jordan was subjected to multiple exogenous shocks, including the Syrian refugee crisis, which have led to a significant drop in economic growth, an increase in debt and record-high unemployment levels. Yet, Jordan continues to host 1.3 million Syrian refugees and continues to share its limited resources with them to ensure their decent living away from their homes,” said Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Wissam Rabadi. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Jordan’s economic and fiscal situation and while we are doing everything possible to support the economy, save jobs and protect Jordanians, we have not forgotten our Syrian brothers and sisters and we are committed to supporting them until they are able to return back safely to their country,” he said in the press release.

The project also introduces several interventions aimed at increasing women’s economic empowerment by promoting entrepreneurship and self-employment in home-based businesses, increasing the private provision of childcare and addressing some of the social norms that still hold back women’s labour force participation, which remains very low by international and regional standards, the statement said.

Finally, the project will also introduce measures to improve export competitiveness and working conditions in agriculture, according to the statement.

“Modernising agricultural value chains will increase the value of exports, while creating job opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian refugees in farms and in logistics services that support them,” said Meriem Ait Ali Slimane, Senior Private Sector Specialist and World Bank Project Team Leader. 

“The Government of Jordan is committed to improve the competitiveness of fresh agricultural produce while rationalising the use of water in agriculture,” she noted.

Like the original project, the additional financing uses the Programme for Results financing instrument to disburse directly against achieved results. The project duration is of two years, according to the press release.

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