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Jordan: Comprehensive reports analyze drivers of tensions and satisfaction with service delivery within host communities

At present, there are over 629,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, a vast majority (85%) of whom live outside formal refugee camps, in host communities. This significant population shift has increased competition for employment and shelter in the host communities as well as highlighted the pressures put on Jordan’s already overburdened resources.

Between August and September 2014, REACH, with the support of the World Bank, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), conducted a comprehensive assessment in Northern Jordan. The purpose of the assessment was to fill key information gaps regarding the drivers of tensions in Jordanian host communities as well as gaps regarding the access to and satisfaction with service provision in three Northern governorates of Jordan. The findings of this assessment resulted in two reports: one focused on the challenges to social cohesion and drivers of tensions within Jordanian host communities, the other focused on the level of access to and satisfaction with local services in the three Jordanian governorates of Irbid, Al Mafraq and Zarqa.

An assessment of the challenges to social cohesion within host communities revealed increased job competition and the rising cost of living as two primary causes of tension reported by both communities (Syrian and Jordanian). Findings also show increased competition for existing services and the discontent produced therein to be causes for increasing tensions in the communities. For example, an overwhelming majority (76%) of the households reported discontent with water shortages as a primary cause for tensions within host communities.

The second report focused on the level of access to and satisfaction with local service provisions. Through its assessment, the report also served as a baseline study for assessing the impact of the Jordan Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project (JESSRP) which aims to strengthen the capacity of municipalities by investing in social infrastructure and supporting tangible improvements at the municipal level. Results show overall dissatisfaction among communities over local service provision, with key challenges reportedly faced in waste management and public water services. 80% of households also reported not having access to a sewer system.  In sum, these findings reveal the pressures faced by local service providers and the need for improved communication between them and their constituents.

Finally, findings of both these reports demonstrate the intense pressures faced by communities and municipalities in Jordan while hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees. By identifying the primary drivers of tension within host communities as well as the pressures put on municipal services in the three governorates, national and international aid actors can improve programming to build the resilience of communities as well as the capacities of municipalities to respond to the needs of their constituents. In the coming year, with support from the World Bank and DFID, REACH will continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of the JESSRP project on local municipalities and communities, based on the findings of this first baseline assessment. Likewise, REACH continues to focus on issues of social cohesion and resilience in Jordanian host communities.

Read the complete Jordan Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project Baseline Study Report here.

Read the complete Social Cohesion in Host Communities in Northern Jordan Report, read here.

Image: The local market in Mafraq town. Al Mafraq governorate hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees in Jordan. 

Displacement site profiling supports camp management in South Sudan

Building on the collaboration between REACH and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster in Iraq throughout 2014-15, REACH has been partnering with the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix team, camp managers and the CCCM Cluster in South Sudan since June 2015 to regularly produce standardised information products across the major displacement sites in the country.

Since December 2013 when civil war broke out in South Sudan, REACH has supported camp coordination and management by conducting regular site mapping, shelter and intentions assessments and representing the cluster for Initial Rapid Needs Assessments in parts of the country where humanitarian access is particularly challenging.

REACH has recently produced site snapshots for the 3 different Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites at UN House in Juba, PoC 1, PoC 2 and PoC 3, which provides key information about the population of each site, together with its performance against key indicators for each sector. An overview profile of UN House Sites provides a comparative overview of conditions across all three sites.

REACH has already released a factsheet for Mingkaman informal site, and will soon publish similar snapshots for the other major displacement sites in South Sudan, including PoC sites in Bor, Bentiu, Malakal & Melut.

“The REACH-CCCM site profiles have been very useful for presenting to donors and dignitaries visiting the different POCs in UN House to give them an overview of the site, and to highlight key hot topics and challenges experienced across the different sites.” explains the Camp Manager of the UN House Site, “REACH maps have also been very useful for site planning of new infrastructure and as a reference when discussing issues with camp stakeholders”.

Currently the REACH and CCCM teams are looking into further research regarding topics around the intentions and perceptions of displaced houesholds involved with volunteer re-integration programmes in some of the major displacement sites in South Sudan.

Image: UN House PoC 2.

Food insecurity among Syrian refugees increases as food assistance decreases

Between March and May 2015, in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), REACH conducted a nationwide Comprehensive Food Security Monitoring Exercise (CFSME) to evaluate the level of food insecurity among registered Syrian refugee families living in Jordan. Over 5,000 interviews and 22 focus group discussions were conducted to provide a robust understanding of food security and economic vulnerability of registered Syrian refugees.

Comparing with the CFSME 2014, there has been a dramatic increase in the vulnerability and food insecurity of registered Syrian refugees living in Jordan over the past year. In 2015, 85% of households in both the camps and host communities are either food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity – a severe drop since 2014. In host communities only 15% of refugee households are food secure in 2015, down from 52% in the previous year. Further, 68% of households are now living below the absolutely poverty line, compared to 44% in 2014,  and households are increasingly adopting negative coping strategies such as accepting exploitative work conditions and reducing essential non-food expenditure, including education. An overview of the main findings from this exercise is available here

In 2014, WFP assistance sustained food security of Syrian refugees in host communities and camp through monthly distributions of food vouchers. However in December 2014, due to limited funding, WFP was forced to decrease the value of the monthly vouchers for Syrian refugees in the host community. This decrease had a dramatic impact on refugees, with no evidence to suggest that households were resilient towards these challenges, and such impact was reflected in the findings of this assessment. In light of the already concerning current situation, the humanitarian community in Jordan reacted with widespread concern to the WFP announcement that food assistance could no longer be provided at all to refugees in the host community starting from 1st August 2015, unless additional funding is secured. The deteriorating situation has been followed by international media, with a recent feature in the Independent.

As vulnerability increases and overall funding for the Syria response continues to decline, this study will play a crucial role in identifying current trends and needs of Syrian households to inform targeting, programming and advocacy. Particularly in the coming months, as food assistance is reduced, the CFSME findings will inform efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable households continue to be supported with the aim to mitigate increasing hardship for registered Syrian refugees living in both the host communities and refugee camps in Jordan.

Northern Mali: Limited access to water for affected communities in Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao

For the past several years, Mali has been facing multiple challenges related to chronic (poverty, lack of basic services) and cyclical factors (crop loss, conflict).

The political crisis in 2012 has particularly affected the North of the country, leading to insecurity, displacement of populations (86,000 persons are estimated to have fled due to conflict), the destruction of public infrastructures and private goods. Among other, water infrastructures have been severly damaged during this crisis and require imminent rehabilitation to ensure affected communities living in these areas or planning to return continue having access to safe and sufficient water.

To inform water infrastructure rehabilitation programs by international aid actors and municipalities, aiming to improve water standards for affected local and displaced communities, REACH has partnered with UNICEF to analyse the situation of access to water for households living in the three northern cities of Kidal , Timbuktu and Gao.

The study was conducted between August and December 2014 and aimed at better understanding the vulnerabilities and needs related to access to water, in order to inform the identification of priority interventions. Thus, the assessment focused on establishing a socio-economic profile for each of the three cities, identifying different profiles of urban areas (richer and poorer neighbourhoods, etc.); estimating the capacity of the public network to meet the water needs of the population in these different urban areas; and examining the general characteristics of access to water in these three cities and the different profiles of users.

The assessment findings pointed out significant spatial and social differentiation of different population groups in the three assessed cities, highlighted by all indicators, including those related to access to water. Access to water remains below Sphere standards for at least half of the population, especially regarding the quantity of water that is being consumed, the time required to access the source, the long distances from water points and the quality of the water. 

Read the full Report (in French): Accès à l’eau – Communes de Kidal, Tombouctou et Gao, Avril 2015



REACH holds its annual Global Coordination Meeting in Geneva

From the 17th to the 19th of June, REACH organized its Annual Global Coordination Meeting, gathering over 40 field staff from 15 countries in Genava’s headquarters. 

The first day opened with an introductory presentation of REACH’s background, achievements and perspectives, and then gave field staff the opportunity to provide an overview of REACH past and current work, as it included rapid deployment (on REACH’s latest deployment in Vanuatu, Nepal and Ukraine) and country (Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and Central African Republic) presentations. An update on REACH’s partnership with UNOSAT was also provided by UNOSAT staff in Geneva.

The second day introduced some internal guidelines to further improve internal coordination and processes between HQ and country teams. The third and last day offered specific training sessions for assessment and GIS staff, who were divided between several groups to work on thematic exercises.

Several conferences were also organized as “side events”: with the Global Shelter Cluster, during which two field staff gave a short presentation about rapid deployments conducted with them in Vanuatu (read the Shelter and Vulnerability Assessment after Cyclone Pam) and Nepal; and with the Global CCCM Cluster, during which two field staff gave a short presentation about REACH’s work with the CCCM in Iraq and South Sudan.

Finally, some panel discussions were held. Attendees included members from the Global Shelter Cluster, WASH Cluster and OCHA who discussed the main challenges and priorities for information management and provided some feedback on REACH role and contribution; while representatives from ACAPS and JIPS expressed their views on the evolution of information management and assessments in informing humanitarian planning.

Such global events are a key opportunity for REACH’s staff and partners to meet, exchange experiences and learn from each other. It is also a necessary process to identify the main challenges and strategic priorities that need to be addressed by REACH over the coming months.

REACH would like to thank colleagues from UNOSAT, the Global CCCM, Shelter and WASH Clusters, OCHA, ACAPS and JIPS for their active participation.


REACH conducts a training of trainers to expand Market Monitoring in Syria

On the 26th of May, REACH carried out a training of trainers (ToT) in Antakya, Turkey, focusing on the implementation of a Market Monitoring Tool in Syria. The training was organised jointly with the Cash Base Responses Technical Working Group (CBR – TWG), which was established in March 2014 to analyse the impact of the ongoing conflict on markets in Syria and to guide the implementation of humanitarian cash programs within those markets.  

The ToT focused on the review of the objectives of the project, the questionnaire and guidelines. While contextual and background presentations were given in English, technical presentations were given in Arabic by REACH national staff. In addition, participants were involved in practical exercises with tools and technology, such as the utilisation of smartphones for data collection. Many of the participants were already familiar with these type of data collection tools, which are increasingly used for remote data collection in northern Syria.

The training was facilitated by experienced REACH staffs who have been implementing this tool since January 2015, by conducting monthly monitoring exercises of key markets in Idleb Governorate, northern Syria, in February, March and April 2015. The training also included a presentation on coordinated and joint assessments from OCHA’s Assessement Coordinator.

Thanks to this training, five additional organisations will launch monthly data collection utilising this market monitoring tool. This will allow REACH and the humanitarian community to increase availibility of data and the greographical coverage, moving from 1 governorate (Idleb, currently covered by REACH) to 5 governorates in northern Syria.

This ToT was supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and was attended by 20 participants from five international organizations, members of the CBR – TWG.

Read the latest Market Monitoring reports released by REACH:

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, February 2015

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, March 2015

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, April 2015 

Image: Map illustrating the price and availability of a range of basic commodities in sub-districts of Idleb governorate in Northern Syria. 

Cyclone Pam: Results of shelter and settlements assessment in Vanuatu

Following Cyclone Pam, which caused widespread damage when it struck Vanuatu on March 13th 2015, REACH teams were on the ground to implement a detailed inter-agency shelter and settlements vulnerability assessment in partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster.

The aim of the assessment was threefold: to verify the coverage of emergency shelter and NFI assistance and conduct a gap analysis and to inform the development of a comprehensive shelter and settlements recovery strategy for the Vanuatu. The study also sought to establish a baseline and method for a potential longitudinal study of recovery. Primary data was collected between 15 April and 1 May 2015 across 13 sample sites, including 18 islands,  1 peri-urban and 2 urban locations. These sites were selected on the basis of high levels of damage identified through initial rapid assessments led by the Government of Vanuatu. Key findings from household level data collection are presented in a series of factsheets.

Across the assessed islands, varying levels of sustained damage, access to resources, livelihoods, and assistance were found, depending on the households’ geographic location. Overall, 81% of assessed households reported that their shelter had sustained some level of damage as a result of the cyclone, with 27% continuing to host displaced friends or family at the time of assessment.

Regarding gaps, 46% of households across the affected area reported that they had not received emergency shelter assistance by the time of the assessment, with the largest gap between needs and assistance identified in peri-urban locations. Despite this, many families and already completed considerable reconstruction and repair by the time of assessment,  largely thanks to support from community networks, friends and family.

Based on the analysis presented in this report, key recommendations for recovery phase shelter programming, identified and endorsed by Shelter Cluster partners, should contribute to a more effective humanitarian response in Vanuatu.

Read the full Report: Shelter and Settlements Vulnerability Assessment – Cyclone Pam Response.

Joint project with UNITAR explores crowd-sourcing in emergency response

This week, REACH is at a Science festival in London to present a new project which explores the role of crowd-sourcing in an emergency response. The Geotag-X Project, developed with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), allows volunteers to answer simple questions about photographs from a humanitarian emergency, and collectively analyse large quantities of data.

Part of Citizen Cyberlab, a research project funded by the European Union, Geotag-X is one of several pilots developed to study creativity and learning in on-line citizen science. The project examines how volunteers can work with the large volumes of data produced in a crisis, and to what extent their ability to identify, categorise and extract relevant data could be a useful tool in humanitarian operations.

REACH and UNITAR worked together to create the flagship project Are Shelters Prepared for Winter? which teaches volunteers to assess whether emergency shelters meet minimum criteria to protect their inhabitants against climatic extremes. Based on a series of recent photographs taken by REACH data collection teams in Iraq and Jordan, the app includes observation questions based on standard indicators developed by REACH and the Global Shelter Cluster.

While the Winter Shelter pilot allows volunteers to learn about needs assessment in a humanitarian response and to better understand conditions for the thousands of people currently living in displacement sites in these areas, other Geotag-X pilots examine a wide range of issues, including drought, climate change and pollution.

Anyone can participate in Geotag-X and our volunteers add real value to the project through testing applications, analysing photographs and providing feedback. Try it out here: Winter Shelter Assessment on Geotag-X