In 2003, JEN set up a branch office in the Jordanian capital of Amman for its operations in Iran. Since 2011, when the Syrian crisis began, JEN has continued to keep an eye on the situation and the influx of refugees into Jordon. Jordan, as one of the neighboring countries of Syria, has been sheltering many refugees. In September 2012 JEN began providing assistance to people who had fled from Syria in the Za’atari Refugee Camp located near the Jordanian-Syrian border and to host communities in Jordon, local communities in which refugees are accommodated outside of the refugee camp.
Approximately 80 thousand people live in the Za’atari Refugee camp. In 2016, JEN has provided emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance including the maintenance of water and sanitation facilities and of water supply and sewerage infrastructure to the Camp. In addition, the maintenance and improvement of sanitation standards through hygiene promotion activities were provided to the communities. Moreover, in addition to the issuance of the Za’atari magazine “Al Tarik (The Road),” which is a project started for the purpose of community empowerment, another new project was launched in May, named “IN TRANSIT,” in which the individual stories of refugees are made into short films and distributed by the hands of refugees themselves.
Meanwhile, Syrian children enrolling in public schools has caused a dramatic increase in the number of students in host communities, and unfortunately has caused a degradation of the learning environment due to the shortage of classrooms and the overuse of. In order to cope with this situation, JEN has built and repaired the water and sanitation facilities of public schools in urgent need and provided training for hygiene education based on the results of a needs assessment survey of public schools nationwide that was carried out by JEN.
In 2017, JEN will be in charge of the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the maintenance of the water and sanitation facilities, and hygiene promotion activities in the Za’atari Refugee Camp. In host communities, JEN will committed to the infrastructural development of public school facilities and hygiene promotion activities.
Following the uprising that began in Tunisia on December 18, 2010, a civil protest broke out in southern Daraa in Syria in March 2011. This protest escalated into armed fights and surging violence threatened the lives of citizens and caused huge numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees for several months. As of February 2017, about 4.9 million Syrians have fled their country and about 6.3 million people are internally displaced. The number of people in need of assistance has reached roughly 13.5 million. Jordan, one of the major recipient countries, shelters about 660 thousand Syrian refugees.
The refugees, who escaped from war to reach Jordan, have to live under severe conditions. The Za’atari Refugee Camp, established on July 29, 2012, has an area of 5.3 km2 (which is equivalent to an area roughly 112 times that of Tokyo Dome) and accommodates 12 districts. The Refugee Camp, sheltering 79,559 refugees as of January 2017, is the world’s fifth largest refugee camp and accommodates the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world. *
Za’atari Camp is located in a desert terrain and the temperature varies significantly between day and night. During the summer, there is no protection from the scorching sun, and during the winter, there are many days of rainfall with temperatures dipping below freezing. In addition, dust whipped by strong winds blowing across the vast desert affects the lives and health of the refugees. Being the third driest region in the world, Jordan suffers from a chronic shortage of water. Ensuring a long-term water supply is a key priority in the present situation.
The difference in culture between people from Jordan and people from Syria is evident in the drastically different way they use water. In Jordan, where water resources are scarce, the rapid increase in the number of refugees means that per capita water supply needs to be reduced and it is becoming difficult to provide water equally to all the residents in the camp. In order not to cause feelings of unfairness and discontent amongst refugees, improvement of the water situation is a pressing issue. With the refugees’ stay in the Camp being prolonged, in October 2013 JEN started an extensive water infrastructure-building project in the Camp in collaboration with other organizations and international institutions in order for the refugees to have access to the allocated amount of safe water in a fair and continuous manner, and to prevent the deterioration of sanitation standards by sewage.
Currently, JEN is conducting the repair and maintenance of public water tanks that have been used continuously since the opening of the Za’atari Camp in 2012 and are now deteriorating. We are also engaged in the new installation and improvement of latrines in each household, among other tasks. Moreover, JEN’s activities further include raising the residents’ awareness of the importance of the maintenance of these water and sanitation facilities, in order for the community itself to be able to carry out the maintenance of sanitation standards.
From the viewpoint of preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and so forth, it is crucial for the residents to have good knowledge of hygiene and proactively put it into practice in their lives. JEN is conducting hygiene sessions held by the community health promoters and consisting of residents of the Camp. The sessions’ themes include the importance of hand-washing, the prevention of the spread of lice in schools, and oral hygiene. In addition, sessions and events targeted at children are also conducted, so that children under 17, who account for more than half of the residents, can learn about hygiene while having fun.
JEN is providing young people with the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming journalists or photographers and providing them with an environment to pursue such dreams through media projects producing magazines or short films. These media projects give the young people hope for the future as they spend a longer time in the Camp than they anticipated. Hopefully, they will realize their dreams when they are able to return to their home country, and play key roles in the reconstruction of their country through journalism.
The website for the media projects was launched in May 2016, and the voices of the refugees can now be sent out not only to the residents of the Camp but also to the whole world.
Click here for the website
“The Road” magazine project (since Oct.2014)
Since the transportation in the Za’atari Refugee Camp is limited, the residents are not free to move about within the Camp. For this reason, it is very difficult to communicate with residents of the other 12 districts and to obtain information on services and events from aid agencies. Therefore, there was a pressing need to establish some means by which the residents would be able to obtain and release information promptly. JEN has decided to start publishing a magazine by which the residents themselves can disseminate information in the Camp. It is the Arabic-language monthly magazine “Al Tarik (in English: The Road)”.
Through the publication of this magazine, JEN hopes not only to build a strong network among the residents but also to support the dreams of the young people living in the Camp. Although more than 50% of the residents are young people under 17, their access to education is limited due to social and economic reasons. Furthermore, the availability and types of jobs they can get are limited. As stifling life in the Refugee Camp gets longer, the young people are experiencing a feeling of powerlessness and weariness as well as anxiety about the future. In order to improve this situation, JEN has provided young people with opportunities for vocational training in publishing a magazine. So far more than 300 young people have participated in the editing of the magazine; their work has included planning, interviewing, photographing, article writing, and designing, among others. A veteran Jordanian editor gives the trainees instructions on writing articles, and a professional graphic designer gives them help with designing. Through these activities, it is expected that their creativity, sense of social unity, and leadership will be cultivated.
“IN TRANSIT” short film project (since May. 2016)
About a year and a half after the first publication of “The Road” magazine, JEN launched another project named “IN TRANSIT.” In this project, a series of short films are created and distributed. The individual stories of refugees are made into short films by the refugees themselves and are distributed via the Internet.
The film team consists of young male and female Syrian refugees aged between 15 and 25 who are living in the Camp and are interested in becoming journalists or photographers.
Their aim is to share with the world the daily lives of the individual refugees. Initially, almost all the team members knew nothing about film-making, but by learning from a professional film-maker they are now creating films by choosing themes, finding casts, interviewing, planning, filming, and editing.
Many refugees affected by the crisis in Syria have flooded into areas in Jordan outside the Za’atari Camp. As many as about 80% of all refugees coming to Jordan have relied on their friends or relatives living in host communities for shelter. The Syrian children started attending public schools in the Jordanian communities, causing a sudden surge of numbers of pupils in the local schools. This has led to a serious situation where classrooms and toilets are in shortage and the students of 197 schools have had to attend either morning or afternoon classes during the past two years.
Since the commencement of our assistance to Syrian refugees in host communities in October 2012, JEN has built new water and sanitation facilities such as toilets and hand-washing areas and repaired the existing facilities that have been overused. Unsanitary school toilets cause girls in particular to miss school or leave early. By keeping the school toilets hygienic, JEN is providing assistance to children so that they can come to school in peace and devote themselves to learning.
Furthermore, by taking the water situation in Jordan into consideration, JEN is devising ways to reuse wastewater generated by the hand-washing of the children in schools. For more information about JEN’s activities in host communities click here. (Jumps to Facebook; English and Arabic only)
In addition to the maintenance of water and sanitation facilities, it is also important to develop good hygiene practices. There is a concern about the potential damage to children’s health due to waterborne diseases. These diseases may be spread through a lack of water and sanitation facilities in public schools For this reason, JEN is implementing hygiene education focused on hand-washing with soap to prevent diseases, basic oral and food hygiene, raising the awareness of school hygiene, and developing healthy lifestyles.
JEN aims to spread good hygiene knowledge and habits to the whole school and to the whole community. In doing so, we first provide hygiene education to the teachers. The teachers give instructions to the students, who then form clubs to promote hygiene. In addition, we distribute hygiene kits including soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hand towels to students in order for them to practice hand-washing with soap and tooth-brushing at home and at school.
Moreover, we provide instructions on the correct use of water and sanitation facilities, ways to keep them clean, and water conservation.
There are about 3,681 public schools in Jordan. More than half of them are in need of water and sanitation assistance, and JEN has provided assistance to over 400 schools since the commencement of our support in October 2012.
JEN has jointly conducted a nationwide needs assessment on water infrastructure with UNICEF, and by integrating the data into the database of the Ministry of Education an assistance system is being constructed in collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF.