6 Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Where we are


During the last two decades, Jordan has adopted an economic strategy that aims at increasing self-reliance while minimizing the dependence of the Jordanian economy on foreign resources through the implementation of numerous economic programmes. These programmes have focused on restructuring the national economy, enhancing its openness and substantiating the role of the private sector as a major producer of commodities and services, as well as increasing its global competitive edge while emphasizing the legislative and oversight role of the public sector.

In order to mitigate the impacts of the above mentioned major economic transformations on citizens –
particularly the poor and marginalized groups within Jordanian society, the Government of Jordan (GoJ) has put in place, in a fashion that would help achieve the MDGs, a series of social programmes. These are aimed at increasing employment opportunities, curbing unemployment, combating poverty and offering in-kind and cash assistance for the social segments and groups that do not manage to escape their crises. Disadvantaged groups are less likely to escape a situation of poverty due to different reasons, health related, such as incapacity, illness and old-age; or social causes, such as death of the key family provider or divorce.

Simultaneously, Jordan has exerted a tremendous effort to manage the economic consequence of the extraordinary increase in population. Like all other developing countries, and Jordan is no exception, the country has witnessed higher population growth rates reaching 3.8% during the 1970s and 1980s before winding down to 2.1% in 2009. Yet, unlike other countries, Jordan has experienced since its foundation the influx of forced displacements of population groups from neighbouring areas, started with the migration of Palestinian refugees in 1948, and again in 1967, followed by the return
of hundreds of thousands of Jordanian and Palestinian expatriates from Kuwait in 1990, and finally the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who poured into Jordan during the recent years. These factors combined have caused the population of the country to double 12 times during the last sixty years.

This unnatural increase in the population has led to increased pressures on the country's resources, infrastructure and basic services. Likewise, additional stress has been put on the labour market due to the huge challenges the nation has faced in terms of creating thousands of job opportunities for the new entrants into the labour market. Alongside with these major transformations, poverty emerged during the last three decades as a key problem and challenge to the socioeconomic decision-makers in Jordan.
In combating extreme poverty and hunger, Jordan has adopted the following socio-economic policies:

• Provide an inclusive and effective social safety system for the poor;
• Empower the economically poor segments, create local sustainable economies for the poor communities and poverty pockets, and enhance grassroots involvement in these programmes;
• Provide social welfare services in line with the best international practices, and enhance the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in providing such services;
• Activate the roles of the governmental and non-governmental sectors in the area of empowering the
disabled, and provide and maintain adequate quality services to them; and
• Improve targeting mechanism of the beneficiaries with poverty alleviation and social welfare programmes and projects.

With regards to achieving full employment, Jordan’s population is young, with the under-15 age group making up some 38% of the population; young people (15-24 years) constitute 22% of the total population. All social classes and segments of the Jordanian society are distinguished by their members’ strong desire to enrol in education, particularly in university education. Very high engagement in education has been noted over recent years, where female enrolment rates have become either equal to or even greater than their male peers across the various educational levels. Unemployment is the most striking challenge young people face; plaguing large numbers of the labour market potential entrants regardless of their academic qualifications, gender or age.

The demographic characteristics of the Jordanian population show that the Jordanian economy faces a challenge of absorbing the large numbers of people entering in the labour market.

These attributes also show the incapacity of the economy to provide decent jobs for all employment – making the achievement of the MDGs more difficult.

The major objectives of the national economy in relation to employment can be summarized as follows:

• Increase the ratio of the economically active population, particularly women’s economic involvement;
• Decrease unemployment rates and increase employment among Jordanians;
• Increase the number of job opportunities offered to people with special needs;
• Improve the vocational training system’s efficiency and effectiveness in line with the requirements of the
labour market and international standards, through matching the supply and demand sides in the labour
• Prompt decent job opportunity generating investments to absorb the increasing inflow of people entering in the labour market;
• Increase engagement by Jordanians in vocational and technical careers; and
• Encourage entrepreneurship and privately owned businesses.

Targets for MDG1
  1. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
    • Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Poverty gap ratio
    • Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
    • Growth rate of GDP per person employed
    • Employment-to-population ratio
    • Proportion of employed people living below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
    • Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
    • Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption