Situation and cooperation

Amman at dawn

In accordance with the constitution of 1952 Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. The head of state since 1999 is King Abdullah II, who has extensive powers. The King is trying to push through the systematic modernisation of his country so as to enable it to take on a leading role in the region.

Wide-ranging reforms came into force in 2011: a constitutional court and an independent electoral commission were set up, and parliament’s rights in relation to the King were strengthened.

King Abdullah Mosque in Amman

The new government under Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour that emerged from the elections in January 2013 was sworn in by the King on 30 April 2013. It was immediately faced with tackling various challenges, the main ones being the impact on Jordan of the crisis in Syria and Iraq and the current economic and energy crisis. In March 2015, the second cabinet reshuffle took place; the cabinet is now made up of 28 ministers.

Human rights

Jordan is a party to seven of the nine key UN human rights treaties but has, however, made reservations on certain provisions. Open criticism of the monarchy, military and security services is not permitted, and press freedom is severely limited. Although women have equal rights under the constitution, they are still socially, economically and culturally disadvantaged. In December 2014, the death penalty was enforced in Jordan for the first time in eight years.

Although Jordan was ranked 55th out of 177 countries by Transparency International on their Corruption Perception Index, corruption remains a serious problem.

Foreign policy

In its foreign policy, Jordan is keen to achieve conciliation between its neighbours. It maintains good relations with the United States, the European Union and the states on the Arabian Peninsula, and is also actively involved in the continuation of the Middle East peace process.  Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Jordan belongs to the Deauville Partnership, through which, since 2011, the G7/G8 countries have been helping the states in the Middle East and North Africa to establish democracy and the rule of law and to introduce economic and social reforms. An association agreement between the EU and Jordan came into force in 2002. To cement relations an action plan was agreed in 2010. Negotiations are under way for a far-reaching free trade agreement.

Economic situation

Women training to become plumbers at the vocational training centre Mafraq in Jordan

Jordan's economy is weak. The country has few mineral and other natural resources and only very limited agricultural land. As a result, Jordan is dependent on external contributions, mainly from funding and debt rescheduling from international donors, and from remittances from Jordanians living abroad.

According to World Bank figures, Jordan experienced economic growth of 2.8 per cent in 2013 and growth of 3.4 per cent is expected for 2015.

Jordan has a very young population, with around 34 per cent of its 6.5 million population under the age of 15. The country’s labour market cannot as yet provide adequate employment prospects for them, and the World Bank puts youth unemployment at around 30 per cent.

In order to boost economic growth and create new jobs, the country will need to implement tax reforms, reduce subsidies and improve the environment for private investment and competition.

The Human Development Index currently ranks Jordan 95th out of 189 nations (HDI). The country looks likely to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the areas of basic education, health and water supply. The progress being made towards these goals is, however, increasingly being jeopardised by the Syrian crisis and other developments in the region.

Refugee crisis

Zaatari refugee camp, east of Mafraq in the north of Jordan

Despite its difficult geographical position in a crisis-torn region, Jordan has pursued an open arms policy. Around 1.8 million Palestinians have found refuge in Jordan since 1947/48. They were followed by refugees from Iraq, estimated to number between 200,000 and 300,000. After the outbreak of armed conflict in Syria in 2011, a new influx of refugees began. By November 2015, Jordan had taken in around 630,000 Syrian refugees, according to United Nations figures. That is about 10 per cent of the Jordanian population.

Most of these refugees are living in Jordanian towns or communities. Some 85,000 are living in Zaatari refugee camp on the Jordanian-Syrian border.

The influx of refugees is threatening to destabilise the country. The local water and power infrastructure, which was already weak, is being stretched to the very limits. The education and health systems are also under great strain.

Jordan is dependent on international support to prevent its political, social and economic fabric being overstretched. The Jordanian government has registered a need for 2.9 billion US dollars in aid in order to meet the basic needs of the Syrian refugees and lessen the negative impact on the country's development.

Priority areas of German development cooperation with Jordan

Special measures to tackle the refugee crisis

Since 2012, the BMZ has made available a total of nearly 150 million euros for special measures to tackle the refugee crisis. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office provided 89 million euros for humanitarian relief operations.

The funding provided by Germany has mainly been invested in the water sector in towns and communities that are hosting refugees. Work on improving 15 wells and maintaining the water pipes has helped to improve supply for 135,000 people and has helped to ease conflicts over the fair distribution of water. In order to help Jordan maintain an efficient and sustainable water supply, the BMZ began in 2015 providing 10 million euros in funding under the special initiative "Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees" for the building of the Aqib pipeline. This will increase the available capacities for transporting water all the way to the host communities and help to avoid placing excessive strain on existing pipelines over the long term. The BMZ is also providing 15 million euros via the KfW Development Bank for the construction of a wastewater disposal system in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. This will do away with the need for water tankers, which are both expensive and harmful to the environment. Some 85,000 people live in Zaatari.

Germany is also providing support through international partners such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). These partners are implementing measures in various areas, including education. School books have been provided for 25,000 children and capacity for an additional 6,000 pupils created. Funding has also been provided for remedial education for 4,000 children to help them return to the normal school system.

Through its local partners, the BMZ is supporting conflict prevention programmes, such as streetfootballworld. Bringing together Syrian and Jordanian young people in sporting activities helps them to mix in a peaceful way and promotes dialogue.

Germany's commitments for the period 2012 to 2015

The German government has committed a total of 564 million euros to Jordan since 2012. Of this, 475 million euros come from the BMZ and 89 million euros come from the Federal Foreign Office for humanitarian aid.

In addition, the BMZ announced further financial support during the German-Jordanian government consultations on 10 and 11 November 2015. In the fifth year of the Syria crisis, the BMZ is providing a further 128 million euros for cooperation in the water sector and to further support education and employment creation.

Under its Initiative for Climate and Environmental Protection (IKLU), Germany is also funding climate change adaptation projects, for example projects to increase the efficiency of water pumps and to improve the treatment and disposal of sewage slurry.

Cooperation in the water sector

Water treatment plant in Jordan

Jordan is one the most water-poor countries in the world. The acute water shortage is due in part to inadequate rainfall, but also to steep population growth and continuing inefficiency in managing the water resources.

As a result of the current influx of refugees from Syria, already scarce resources and the severely stretched infrastructure are coming under additional strain. This heightens the risk of conflict over distribution between refugees and local people.In addition to short-term emergency measures to relieve the crisis situation in the border regions, Germany is engaged in the sustainable improvement of Jordan’s water sector. In 2008, the Jordanian government adopted its strategy "Water for Life: Jordan's Water Strategy 2008–2022". Germany is supporting it in the implementation of that strategy. The aim is to manage Jordan's water supplies in an efficient and sustainable way. The focus is on economic efficiency, ecological sustainability and social justice.

Most German-Jordanian projects are conducted on the BMZ's behalf by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and KfW Development Bank. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) is also active in Jordan, where it is conducting a project to protect the groundwater.

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