BEIRUT, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new strategy
to improve life in Jordan's fast-growing capital aims to provide
work for its under-employed young people, and relieve the strain
on its services and resources as Syrian refugees have poured
into the country.
Amman has about 4 million residents, more than 42 percent of
Jordan's total population, according to the document released on
Thursday as part of the city's participation in 100 Resilient
Cities (100RC), a network helping cities around the world face
up to social, economic and environmental challenges.
Because of the refugee crisis, triggered by Syria's civil
war, now in its seventh year, Amman has seen its population
swell, putting pressure on its ability to serve residents.
"This has contributed to an 83 percent increase in public
debt, a 30 percent increase in youth unemployment, a 40 percent
increase in demand for water, and a 17 percent increase in
rental costs," the report said.
Amman's Chief Resilience Officer Fawzi Masad said around 10
percent of the city's population were refugees.
"Anything we do for the local community, refugees will be
part of it," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
The Jordanian government says the country is home to 1.4
million Syrians, of whom around 633,000 are registered with the
U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.
A centre will be set up in Amman to help refugees integrate
into Jordanian society, assisting them to register their
businesses and look for housing, while giving them access to the
same information as Jordanian citizens, Masad said.
The resilience strategy - which aims to build a smart,
innovative and environmentally proactive city - must include all
groups, he added.
"Most of our population is young and we don't have a lot of
projects directed to them. We want to change that," he said.
There will be five new community centres to support young
people in their search for jobs, involve them in developing
smart solutions such as solar energy or clean transport, and
help bring new technology to Amman, with the goal of boosting
the economy and equipping them to be its future leaders.
The Rockefeller Foundation has committed $164 million to its
100RC initiative to help cities adapt and thrive amid climate
change, migration and other shocks.
The funding pays for cities to appoint a chief resilience
officer and develop a strategy to deal with local stresses. It
also offers a network of member cities that can share and learn
from their experiences.
Masad, along with the Greater Amman Municipality and 100RC
developed the city's strategy, also aimed at improving Amman's
lack of proper public transport, ageing infrastructure, traffic
congestion and limited natural resources like water and energy.
Masad said the strategy would not be easy to implement as it
needed a lot of human and financial resources, but he remained
optimistic it could be accomplished over the next decade.
"I hope at least 90 percent of it will be finished within
the time frame," he said.
(Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, editing by Megan Rowling.
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