EBRD and UK to tackle refugee crisis in Jordan

By Nibal Zgheib

Half of Jordanians and 30 per cent of the 1.4 million Syrian refugees in the country live in the capital Amman

Half of Jordanians and 30 per cent of the 1.4 million Syrian refugees in the country live in the capital Amman

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the government of the United Kingdom (UK) are working together to strengthen Jordan’s resilience to the refugee crisis which is having a great impact on the relatively small country.

The UK, through its Department for International Development (DFID), is providing an initial £5 million grant to co-finance a recently approved EBRD investment worth up to €180 million to support the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) in implementing a comprehensive solid waste programme designed to cope with the crisis.

The UK grant is part of a larger contribution worth £30 million focusing on strengthening Jordan’s capacity to cope with the inflow of refugees. The grants are expected to co-finance investments in infrastructure and support local small businesses with a view to provide training and increase job opportunities for local populations and refugees with work permits.

The grant contribution agreement was signed by EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and the UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening in London today.Jordan, which has seen a 15 per cent surge in its population since the start of the conflict in Syria, is struggling to maintain an adequate level of municipal services for its population. The challenges are particularly serious in the capital, Amman, where almost half of Jordanians and 30 per cent of the Syrian refugees in the country live.

With the landfills serving the capital currently at capacity, the increased amount of waste poses severe environmental risks. Illegal dumping and burning of solid waste are causing damage and aggravating health hazards.

The funding will allow GAM to address the strain on municipal services through investments to improve solid waste services, including the further expansion of the Al Ghabawi landfill, the major disposal facility serving Amman, and the modernisation of transfer stations. The investment will be complemented by a reform plan to improve operations, financial sustainability and efficiency.

The European Union is expected to contribute additional grant co-financing to the project.

EBRD President Chakrabarti said: “We are grateful for the support by the British government for this crucial investment. It is part of an ambitious plan to support private sector and infrastructure projects in countries affected by the refugee crisis in the Middle East. The EBRD could not take this important step without donors’ support to which the UK has become the first to contribute. We hope many others will join this effort.”

UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening said: “At the Syria Conference in February, the international community made historic commitments to provide education and jobs for millions of Syrian refugees, as well as to support the countries and communities hosting them."

“This programme to improve waste disposal in Amman is the first of a number of EBRD initiatives that the UK is supporting. It is vital that we improve overstretched infrastructure for communities who might have seen the number of residents double and provide skills and jobs to help refugees into livelihoods.”

The United Kingdom is a founding member of the EBRD and also contributes as a donor to the Bank's work. Since 1991, the United Kingdom, through the Department for International Development (DFID), has contributed over €81.3 million of UK aid in donor funds.