Employment-Intensive Investment in

Jordan

Employment-Intensive Investment Programme activities in Jordan

Current EIIP Activities (updated in June 2020)

In July 2016, as part of its response to the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan, the ILO began implementing its Employment Intensive Infrastructure Programme in Jordan, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Development Bank (KfW).

The programme focuses on improving livelihoods through providing cash-for-work opportunities for thousands of vulnerable Jordanian citizens as well as Syrian refugees. Syrian and Jordanian women and men contribute to the improvement of local infrastructure with a focus on maintenance and cleaning of roads and highways, and municipal buildings and facilities.

The project has played a critical role in facilitating short-term job opportunities that follow the principle of decent work and help enhance overall employability.

Implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Ministry of Local Administration, and previously with the Ministry of Agriculture, the project targets some of the country’s most vulnerable groups and has ensured that those who benefit from its interventions include 50 per cent Jordanians and 50 per cent Syrians, with 20 per cent being women and 3 per cent persons with disabilities.

The project initially focused on activities in the Governorates of Mafraq and Irbid. It has recently expanded its activities to cover new governorates including Amman, Zarqa, Ajloun and Jerash.

A number of activities have been implemented under the programme since its launch, including:

Previous phases:
  • Expanding agricultural infrastructure of local farmers through building water catchments to collect rain water and soil protection arrangements through terracing and planting; and
  • Building additional classrooms at high-density student schools and rehabilitation and routine maintenance of existing schools.
Current phases:
  • Improving tertiary roads through the construction of drains for existing roads, and rehabilitating and maintaining roads to improve the accessibility to local farms;
  • Maintaining a cleaner environment in selected communities, through municipality works (cleaning of roads, parks and schools, as well as planting trees in selected municipalities).
  • Building the capacity of staff at selected municipalities to manage employment intensive projects through training workshops;
  • Building the capacity of the public and private sector to implement employment-intensive approaches, through training of civil servants and contractors on how to use employment-intensive approaches to infrastructure maintenance;
  • Improving awareness of municipality and Ministry of Labour officials on labour laws, work permits, and social security rules and regulations through workshops;
  • Updating and implementing strategy to increase women participation, through awareness campaigns, trainings, and workshops on women participation in infrastructure works;
  • Supporting the issuance of work permits in the agricultural and construction sectors to Syrian workers at the end of their employment contract under EIIP (work permits for one year processed for Syrian workers who have participated in the programme); and
  • Supporting workers who complete the programme through on-the-job and theoretical training in selected skills (skills training for future work opportunity in various sectors).
Since 2016, 14,480 Syrian refugees and Jordanians have benefited from ILO’s Employment Intensive Infrastructure Programme in Jordan (7,175 Syrian and 7,305 Jordanians), through activities implemented during the first four phases of the project. Activities under a fifth phase have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but are expected to start by July 2020.

COVID-19 Response

Most business sectors in Jordan began to gradually resume operations in May, following a two-month lockdown imposed by the government to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

A curfew was imposed in mid-March, following the approval of a national defence law by King Abdullah of Jordan, granting the government wider powers to combat the virus. Among the measures taken was the closure of businesses, schools and public sites across the country as well as restrictions on movement between cities and governorates. Land and sea borders were closed, and all national and international flights ceased.

The ILO’s Employment Intensive Infrastructure Programme in Jordan, funded by the German Development Bank (KfW), is working with the ILO’s Regional Office for Arab States on two immediate measures in response to the crisis: 1) operationalizing the EIIP Guidance on employment-intensive works in response to COVID-19 and raising awareness on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH); and 2) looking at ways of reshaping and re-designing models of EIIP, which can help boost employment and income during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite temporarily suspending work on all its sites in line with government instructions, the project is currently taking a number of steps to minimize the adverse impact of the crisis on the several thousand workers employed under the programme.

These include:

Continuation of salary payments to all workers

All workers employed in EIIP in Jordan have continued to receive their salaries, despite lockdown measures that led to the suspension of their work. Salaries are paid for the duration of their contract, which is typically two months. The salary distribution has ensured that workers and their families had access to income during the months of March and April to meet their basic needs.

The ILO distributed hundreds of ATM cards to newly-recruited Jordanian workers who were unable to receive their cards prior to the lockdown. Working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Ministry of Local Administration – its implementing partners under the programme – the ILO distributed a total of 571 cards to workers across Amman, Irbid, Mafraq, Zarqa, Jerash and Ajloun, including remote villages, where some workers have been self-isolating.

Since the start of the lockdown in March, 3,280 salaries were paid to both Jordanian and Syrian workers employed as part of the programme.

The development of safeguarding measures to protect workers

The programme, which requires workers to be physically present on roads and other public spaces, is developing safeguarding measures to ensure the protection of workers once work resumes. This includes providing workers with additional protective clothing, sanitiser and facemasks, and changing some practices at work, such as ensuring greater separation between workers on sites. These measures are being taken within the entire Cash for Work sector in Jordan.

Raising awareness among workers on health and safety

The development of COVID-19 related safety awareness raising guidelines for workers employed under the programme is key to ensuring that workers and their families take the necessary measures to stay safe before and after the resumption of work. This includes sharing awareness raising material through WhatsApp groups and Facebook. For this purpose, a video was produced by the Cash for Work sector for distribution to all workers.

Making use of on-line and digital learning tools

The ILO in Jordan is introducing on-line learning initiatives through the use of digital technology and social media in order to reach its beneficiaries, particularly workers. One such initiative is the production of short training videos, with the help of qualified instructors, aimed at transferring skills and knowledge in targeted occupations within a number of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing and construction. The videos, which will include both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, will be used by targeted trainees for learning purposes.

EIIP has identified a number of competencies and tasks for their workers and supervisors to benefit from, including videos on supervisory skills – assigning group tasks, training, coaching and inspecting; the safe use and handling of tools; and filling in a muster roll and progress reports, among others.

In addition, the ILO offices in Jordan and Lebanon are exploring ways to strengthen collaboration with ITCILO (International Training Centre of the ILO) to provide constituents with digital learning materials, tools and resources such as OSH and EIIP training courses to be designed in Arabic for partners.

Assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable workers in Jordan

The ILO and Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, issued a rapid assessment on May 1, 2020, exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups in the Jordanian labour market, including Syrian refugees, women and workers in informal employment.

The assessment is based on a selected sample of 1,580 workers and job seekers, who have received support or participated in programme and project schemes implemented by the ILO in Jordan, including those employed under its labour-intensive programme. It provides insight and relevant knowledge that can support the government and development partners in designing or adapting employment interventions and policies to address the crisis. Full report, key findings, video.

The report is part of a series of studies on the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. A second assessment examining the impact of the pandemic on enterprises in Jordan is expected to be launched in collaboration with UNDP in June 2020.

Historical Information

Jordan is relatively new to EIIP. Activities started in May 2015 with the “Rural Infrastructure, Training and Employment” (RITE) project, financed directly by the ILO, which demonstrated the viability of contracting small contractors to use the EIIP approach for infrastructure improvement. The project showcased EIIP approaches in the Governorates of Irbid and Mafraq, and helped the ILO establish close relations with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing; the Ministry of Agriculture; and Ministry of Local Administration. This provided a good basis for further cooperation in the development of the larger scale EIIP project, which started in mid-2016.

At the same time, the ILO commissioned a labour supply study to establish some indicators on the extent of labour availability (willingness to work and ability to work) in employment-intensive infrastructure works in Jordan. This included identifying wage rates and other working conditions at which workers - Jordanian and Syrian men and women – would be willing to accept mostly unskilled jobs under EIIP schemes.

The ILO also collaborated with the World Bank in 2016 to assess the actual and the potential labour intensity of projects and schemes financed through the proposed scale up of the World Bank- supported “Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project (ESSRP)” in Jordan.