Over the past 75 years, the United States and Jordan have maintained a long-standing partnership to bolster Jordan’s economic stability and support a healthy, well-educated, and productive population that can forge a stable and prosperous future. The U.S. Government has provided Jordan with more than $17.3 billion in foreign aid since 1946. USAID has directly supported a 40 percent reduction in infant mortality in the last twenty years, expanded equitable access to education for Jordanian and refugee students, increased the availability of drinking water and improved sanitation for millions of Jordanians, and facilitated the Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement to help businesses access new markets and grow.
Jordan has a well-educated, youthful population, and a reputation for stability in a turbulent region. However, the economy has stagnated, unemployment is high, water demand outstrips supply, and civic participation remains low. The growing population, influx of refugees from regional crises, and COVID-19 strain the country’s resources, threatening economic stability and security. Through its strong partnership with the Government of Jordan, USAID is bolstering economic stability, improving water security, strengthening democratic governance, investing in health and education, and expanding opportunities for women and youth.
Generating Inclusive, Private Sector-Led Growth
Jordan’s economy benefits from its well-educated population, strategic location, world-heritage tourism sites, and a reputation for stability in a turbulent region. However, the global economic crisis, regional instability, and more recently the global pandemic, have resulted in economic contraction, double-digit unemployment, and a growing government debt. Jobs are not being created fast enough to absorb a young, growing, and educated workforce. Businesses in Jordan face a challenging regulatory environment and limited access to capital and services that could support innovation and growth. Inclusive, private sector-led growth is essential for generating sustainable jobs for Jordan’s youth, increasing tax revenues to finance much-needed economic reforms, and decreasing Jordan’s dependence on foreign aid. USAID works with the Government of Jordan as it pursues reforms to improve private sector competitiveness, increase participation of women in the economy, and expand economic and employment opportunities across the Kingdom to strengthen Jordan’s political and economic stability.
Strengthening Water Security
Jordan is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. The country’s renewable water supply currently meets around two-thirds of the population’s water demands, with groundwater being used twice as quickly as it can be replenished. Population growth and the influx of refugees from regional conflicts put additional strain on an already stressed water supply. Climate change will exacerbate the problem. Jordan’s water security is critical to the country’s long-term political and economic stability. For nearly 70 years, USAID has partnered with the Government of Jordan to strengthen the Kingdom’s water security by expanding and rehabilitating water supply systems, training hundreds of water experts, and building and renovating water networks and water and wastewater treatment plants. Today, USAID continues this partnership by improving water and wastewater infrastructure, strengthening water sector governance to build self-sufficiency in managing water resources, and promoting water conservation so that the people of Jordan have sustainable access to the water they need to build strong, resilient communities. USAID is also helping ensure the continuity of Jordan’s water supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advancing Accountable Democratic Governance
Jordan is pursuing greater democratic accountability, transparency, and a stronger civil society. In 2011, His Majesty King Abdullah II launched a political reform process that emphasized greater citizen participation in decision-making and increased transparency and accountability at all levels of government. While Jordan has made important progress, challenges persist. Citizen-state trust has eroded amid increases in poverty and the cost of living. Citizen participation in decision-making is limited, particularly among marginalized segments of the population, such as women, youth, and persons with disabilities, and civil society is weak. Many citizens perceive that the government does not sufficiently address their needs. USAID works with the Government of Jordan to advance the King’s vision for a more stable, secure, and democratic future by strengthening the partnership between government and citizens, bolstering civil society, and fortifying local governance to provide services that enable communities to thrive.
Investing In People
USAID builds and renovates public schools and hospitals, expanding access to education and health care throughout Jordan. We are improving the quality of healthcare by training health-care professionals and assisting the government to implement continuous professional development programs. USAID also ensures individuals and families have access to knowledge and resources about behaviors that help them live healthier lives. USAID programs strengthen Arabic and math instruction in Kindergarten, Grades 1, 2, and 3, prepare new teachers to enter the classroom, and support centers that give out-of-school youth the chance to complete their education and pursue employment. In response to COVID-19, USAID trained 16,500 health care workers on how to care for COVID-19 patients, launched awareness campaigns to encourage mask wearing, social distancing, and COVID-19 vaccination, trained 12,000 teachers on how to provide quality distance education, and delivered workbooks to children without digital access.
Jordan’s people are the country’s greatest asset and maximizing their potential to contribute to Jordan’s stability and economic growth is a key priority for the Government of Jordan. Delivering quality education is fundamental to ensuring that the country’s large youth population has the necessary skills to play a positive role in the county’s future. Jordan has made great progress in increasing access to education, with nearly universal primary enrollment and gender parity in Jordanian schools. However, despite widespread access to education, challenges remain. Schools are overcrowded and in varying states of disrepair, teachers receive limited training and support, and learning outcomes remain low. By grade three only 34 percent of children read at grade level. A growing population of Jordanians and the influx of refugees have stressed Jordan’s public education system, and children and youth who fall out of the system lack opportunities to get back on track. The COVID-19 pandemic has added additional pressure on the Ministry of Education to deliver education despite school closures.
In 2018, the Ministry of Education launched its five-year Education Strategic Plan to ensure that all children and youth can gain the skills and knowledge to succeed in a 21st-century knowledge economy. USAID supports the Government of Jordan as it expands access to quality education for children and youth, improves recruitment and training of quality teachers, and develops sustainable and self-sufficient education sector planning and administration.
Improving Health Care Quality
Jordan’s people are the country’s greatest asset. A healthy and productive population is fundamental to the country’s future economic growth and political stability. USAID and Jordan share a longstanding partnership to strengthen the country’s health system, enhancing the quality of health care services, training health-care providers, and constructing health-care facilities throughout the country. The Kingdom has made enormous progress in recent years in reducing maternal and infant mortality and expanding and improving health infrastructure.
However, with a growing national population and the influx of refugees from all over the region, Jordan struggles to ensure that everyone can access quality health care. Hospitals are overcrowded and the country faces challenges retaining and appropriately deploying a skilled health-care workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic has further taxed an already stressed health system, exacerbating the challenge of extending its overburdened health services to meet increased demand while continuing to strengthen the resilience and quality of services provided.
Unlocking the Potential of Women and Youth
Women and youth are an untapped resource for Jordan. Despite high education levels, the country has some of the lowest indicators in the world for labor force and civic participation, productivity, and gender equality. Less than one-fifth of women are engaged in the workforce. Social norms discourage women from working and there are limited support services, such as transportation and child care, to enable their economic participation. Few women assume leadership roles in the private sector and government. Despite the increased number of women running for election, women continue to have minimal representation in parliament.
Two-thirds of Jordan’s population are under the age of 30 and around one-third of youth (15-30 years old) are unemployed. Insufficient employment opportunities and an education system that does not prepare youth for the workforce exacerbate the problem. Young women and men have limited opportunities for political and civic engagement and lack access to resources and support services. This affects their ability and motivation to effect positive change in their communities, which leads to apathy and frustration. USAID programming encourages and facilitates equitable participation by women and youth in the economy and public life, which is essential for the country’s political and economic stability.