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- UN-Habitat Executive Director: World Cities Day Message
Jordan is growing quickly. With high rates of population growth and a unique geography, Jordan is faced with both unprecedented challenges in managing the country’s lands and development and also offered exceptional opportunities in revitalizing the Kingdom. Jordan is one of the smallest and poorest economies in the Middle East, with 14 percent of Jordanians living below the poverty line. The country suffers from structural unemployment, as the economy fails to absorb the annual inflow of new job seekers. Moreover, Jordan’s active-to-total population ratio is one of the lowest in the world, with an average of four non-active individuals depending on a single worker. Unless this situation is reversed, significant economic growth and wealth will be difficult to achieve. With the current population growth rate and the economic status-quo, unemployment rates could well exceed 20 percent and could account for over half a million unemployed in the coming ten to fifteen years.
Jordan’s population continues to increase and water supplies are increasingly strained. If current trends remain the same, Jordan will be in absolute water shortage by 2025. Jordan’s industrialization and urbanization cause aquifers and polluted water to be exploited and Jordan’s agricultural practices, with 77.5%, use the most water, heightening Jordan’s water scarcity problems. Having a young population (57% of population under 25) poses greater demands for jobs, affordable housing, transit and social services within our urban areas.
Jordan is also a host to about 1.4 million Syrians, including around 630,000 refugees. While some 82 per cent of all refugees have settled in host communities, particularly in the urban area of Amman and the northern governorates of Jordan, the remaining are hosted in refugee camps. Prior to the Syria crisis, local governance in Jordan was already struggling to address service delivery shortages, induce local economic development, and maintain social cohesion within communities. Meeting the needs of the 521,611 refugees residing outside camps threatens to overwhelm these already stretched local administrations, in particular in the most affected northern governorates.
The challenges of Jordanian cities today are very real, UN-Habitat, as the UN Agency focused on cities, is proud to work within this context. The UN-Habitat Country Programme projects were developed in close collaboration with the national and local partners and are closely aligned with the development priorities of Jordan.
UN-Habitat’s programme focus for the period 2015 – 2017 is to work with central and local government partners to support them to strengthen all aspects of governance and management in urban areas through:
– Effective urbanization, urban planning, and local governance;
– Improved land management and administration;
– Increased emphasis on pro-poor housing;
– Improved infrastructure and basic services; and
– Strengthened Jordanian resilience in urban protracted crisis.
This document provides the framework for greater partnerships with all the development players, and is equally considered as a major tool to advocate UN-Habitat’s mandate and to guide the implementation process.