Building social cohesion in the Badr Nazzal district of Amman
A community led initiative using public spaces to encourage social interaction between host communities and refugees.
The greater Amman municipality is working in collaboration with the French Agency for Development, the French Red Cross and the Jordanian Red Crescent to reduce socio-cultural tensions and spatial segregation between host and refugee communities living in the the Badr Nazzai district in the south of the city.
The broader project is centred around providing improved access to healthcare and social, employment and cultural opportunities for refugees. Micro-initiatives are also being implemented as part of the project; the rehabilitation of Shura and Jordan park and the establishment of a football training programme for Syrian and Jordanian children demonstrate how social cohesion can be strengthened through the creation of public spaces and programmes and that barriers inhibiting social exchange can be dismantled.
This case study was developed in the framework of the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project (MC2CM), a project coordinated by ICMPD and funded by the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The MC2CM project has been working since 2015 with Amman, Beirut, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Tangiers, Tunis, Turin and Vienna to increase the knowledge base on urban migration. Additionally the project has sought to nurture a peer-to-peer dialogue and mutual learning on specific urban challenges such as social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, employment and provision of basic services for migrants, among others. This case study was selected by the Municipality of Madrid in order to showcase a practice that contributes to social inclusion of migrants at the local level.
This case study was contributed from the UCLG Learning Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Background and objectives
Amman is the capital city and the economic, political and cultural centre of Jordan with a population of 4 million people. Situated at the centre of the Middle East region, Jordan has a long history of migration and has provided safe haven to migrants fleeing their home countries and in need of assistance. Relative to its own population, Jordan stands as the second largest refugee-hosting country in the world, with refugees representing more than 30 percent of the total population. Despite this, Jordan has not signed the 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention and does not have legislation that regulates the status of refugees.
Approximately 30 percent of Amman’s 4 million inhabitants report as foreign-born and the influx of migrants has significantly increased since 2013, with the mass arrival of Syrian refugees. In 2016, more than 435,000 Syrians were reported as residing in Amman, however, despite this increase, the city has responded effectively to meeting the needs of both new and settled communities. Throughout the city, essential municipal services are provided to people regardless of their country of origin or nationality. Nevertheless, for a number of districts in Amman, the growth of refugee communities has caused increased pressure on municipal infrastructure and public services, particularly regarding education, transport, public spaces, waste management, and the provision of energy and water.
The project in Badr Nazzal follows a social cohesion approach and the objective are:
- strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations
- improve living conditions
- expand social communication between refugees and the local community
- establish community-based activities and capacity building opportunities.
All micro-initiatives were designed in an intensive planning phase, which lasted three years.
Initiative 1: Rehabilitation of Shura and Jordan park
The implementation phase of the rehabilitation of local parks commenced in June 2016 and took six months to complete. The main objective of this initiative was the creation of opportunities for increased interaction and improved social cohesion between Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees. Active community participation has been a key element of the project throughout, and both Jordanian citizens and Syrian refugees were encouraged to participate in the project’s development and implementation. Furthermore, the inclusion of Syrian refugees as labourers provided access to capacity building and employment opportunities. Across the two parks, activities included the rehabilitation of both soft and hard landscape areas, additional planting, carpentry and playground maintenance.
Initiative 2: Training courses for young football players
The football programme is supported by multi-stakeholder cooperation and provides football training courses for local male children aged 8–12 years. Participants in this programme come from local families, with both host and refugee communities represented. The programme was designed to increase social cohesion and cultural inclusion within the district through the development/strengthening of communication lines between local Jordanian and Syrian children. This initiative promotes the social participation of refugee families, and contributes to maintaining and enhancing a sense of social security. The project was initiated by the local community in collaboration with the Badr Nazzal district in February 2016 and ran for seven weeks. During this time, young residents received professional instruction from trainers drawn from similar social communities in spaces provided by the Great Amman Municipality.
Financing and resources
The overall project, including the two presented micro-initiatives, is funded through the financial support of international agencies and organisations. The main donor has been the French Development Agency. The French and Jordanian International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) took responsibility for the implementation of project activities, including capacity building requirements, as foreseen in the project design.
Results and impacts
The overall Badr Nazzal project is comprised of several short-term initiatives, each delivered with relatively modest budgets. This mode of operation encourages active community participation through the regular delivery of tangible short-term impacts.
The rehabilitation of local parks has succeeded in redesigning public spaces to meet evolving local needs. The community’s satisfaction with the renovation project is gauged by the increase in park visitorship by members of both the refugee and host communities.
The visible involvement of Syrian refugees in the implementation of project activities has had a positive impact on their wider social inclusion and has helped mitigate the threat of social segregation and in countering localised discrimination. Furthermore, 15 Syrian refugees have been employed during the refurbishment activities and this has enabled them to build a daily routine and offered a form of psychosocial support.
The football training programme has had a significant impact on social cohesion. Project managers have reported noticeable improvements in the way that children behaved and engaged with each other. Playing football together enables children to cross social and cultural divides. Overall, 50 children participated in the football training course – 25 Jordanian children and 25 children from Syrian families.
Barriers and challenges
During its implementation phase, the rehabilitation of Shura and Jordan park faced several obstacles. These were predominantly related to project delays and were triggered by issues with external contractors and also as a result of both parks remaining open to the public for the duration of the rehabilitation works.
The implementation of the football training programme did not experience any major challenges in terms of implementation. On the contrary, the project, which had originally been initiated by the local community, benefitted from broad support from all involved parties. However, the limitation of the programme is it is available for male children only.
The budget provided was specific to a certain period of time and does not guarantee long term sustainability of the project.
Lessons learned and transferability
Fundamentally, the two initiatives support the notion that the involvement of migrant residents in neighbourhood development and recreational activities is key to enabling opportunities for dialogue. The football programme demonstrates that recreational activities provide an effective means of bringing young people of different backgrounds together and encourages a healthy lifestyle while diffusing the potential for inter-cultural tensions. The programme also provides an opportunity for enhanced parental interaction.
The football programme also confirms that community initiatives, designed in direct response to local needs, have the potential to be scaled up to a district level and local ownership creates a strong foundation for long-term programming. The football programme and the park rehabilitation project highlight the value of designing a range of micro-initiatives that take different entry points into promoting social integration of migrants. This approach can be further strengthened if the micro-initiatives were embedded within a long-term strategy that provides adequate resources and protection by local government policy.
The case study builds on information provided by UCLG and the Great Amman Municipality. This includes information collected during several telephone interviews, as well as unpublished information concerning the two micro-initiatives and a draft version of the forthcoming MC2CM Amman City Migration Profile. Official documents pertaining to the wider Badr Nazzal project have not been made available to the author; nor was it possible to arrange further interviews with stakeholders outside of the GAM.
Person of reference:
Mr. Loai Hassan salameh ali
Head of Development unit and citizen service
This case study has been prepared by Katrin Hofer (email@example.com) under the coordination of Barbara Lipietz and Tim Wickson from the Bartlett’s Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College of London (UCL) and the UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights, in the framework of the MC2CM Project.