Jordan is small, relatively stable country that has become a refuge for large numbers of people fleeing conflict in Iraq and Syria. The inflows had raised Jordan’s population to 9.95 million by 2018, placing heavy strains on its resources and economy.
Ranked as an upper-middle income country, Jordan has a market economy, complemented by development aid and remittances, with the service sector, including tourism, accounting for 62 per cent of GDP in 2018, with industry at 27.5 per cent and agriculture at just 5.6 per cent.
While 350,000 foreigners made up a quarter of the Jordanian workforce in 2013, an estimated 1 million Jordanians work abroad, often in the Arabian Gulf.
In 2018, unemployment was 15 per cent, while youth unemployment registered at an all-time high at 37 per cent. Labour-force participation by Jordanians was extremely low, at just 39 per cent of the working age population and only 14 per cent for women.
Jordan’s rural population was more than 800,000 in 2018, according to the World Bank. Poverty is highest in rural areas, at 16.8 per cent in 2010, with another 28.8 per cent of rural dwellers vulnerable to poverty, according to the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013-2020.
Rural poverty has resulted from a combination of rapid population growth, degraded natural resources and a chronic water shortage, amplified by the influx of refugees and the impacts of climate change. Many of these elements are likely to accelerate desertification and further reduce the prospects for viable rain-fed agriculture and livestock production.
In Jordan, IFAD support aims to increase agriculture’s contribution to GDP, expand job opportunities, and empower women and youth to develop small enterprises to improve their livelihoods.
IFAD's overall country strategy programme aims to increase income of rural communities in Jordan, making them more prosperous and less vulnerable.
Activities target small scale livestock farmers, smallholders with limited land, the landless and unemployed rural poor.
IFAD’s support is aligned with Jordan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013—2020, the Agriculture Development Strategy 2016—2020, The Jordan Response Plan to the Syria Crisis, and the Jordan Economic Growth Plan (2018-2022). IFAD aims to ensure all policies benefit the environment and help mitigate climate change.
Key activities include:
- enhancing the resilience of small-scale farmers and livestock owners to climate and production risks; and
- facilitating access to financial services and markets.
Following a country programme evaluation by IFAD’s Independent Office of Evaluation in 2012, IFAD and the Government of Jordan agreed to a renewed lending programme with a sharp focus on tackling poverty.
The Rural Economic Growth and Employment Project (REGEP), launched in March 2015, is the first project using this approach. It aims to reduce rural poverty, vulnerability and inequality by creating employment and income-generating opportunities for the rural poor, especially women and youth.
Another active project, the Small Ruminants Investment & Graduating Households in Transition Project (SIGHT), aims to contribute in reducing poverty and enhancing national food security in Jordan by improving the productivity of small-ruminants and to assist Syrian Refugees and host communities to graduate out of poverty through livelihood support.
Results-based country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP):
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- Agriculture accounted for only 5.6 per cent of GDP in 2018.
- Jordan's market-oriented economy is among the smallest in the region, and lacks natural resources.
- Big inflows of Iraqi and Syrian refugees greatly increased pressure on the economy and services.