Coping in the age of corona: How the Netherlands and Jordanian partners adapted to the crisis. A few examples.

Almost three months ago, the government of Jordan announced a number of precautionary yet stringent measures to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On March 20, a strict lockdown was implemented and for six weeks citizens were not able to gather or move around freely. The army was deployed to enforce the nationwide lockdown that also closed shops, businesses and offices.

The corona crisis has forced businesses and organisations around the world to rethink their way of working as they adapt, transform and innovate their business models out of necessity. Similarly, with Jordan under strict lockdown measures, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with its local Jordanian partners swiftly found ways to continue providing necessary support and guidance to vulnerable Jordanians and refugees.

As we all navigate the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed our partners implement fundamental changes in the way their organisations work and deliver their services and support. Many of them were able to also leverage this crisis as an opportunity to reach even more beneficiaries. The Embassy of the Netherlands is proud to work with all of our local partners who have gone above and beyond to ensure that their activities are not held up by the crisis.

Below we highlight how a number of the Netherlands’ partners changed their way of working to adapt to the new reality imposed by COVID-19. 

Supporting those most vulnerbale to COVID-19

With the urgent support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Penal Reform International in partnership with the Public Security Directorate provided extra protection inside all police stations, juvenile centres and women’s prisons in Jordan. The project seeks to support the health and protection of female prisoners, while responding to their gender-sensitive needs. In addition, the complete sterilisation of all 115 police and juvenile centres, the provision of over 13,000 hygiene kits and a number of sterilisation corridors will be made. Read more about how this project will protect everyday citizens and support prisoners, here (AR).

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Through our project Municipal Businesses (MUBU) implemented by Finn Church Aid, along with their partner organisation Help Age International, 200 hygiene kits were given out to some of the most vulnerable. The contribution was made directly to the Ministry of Social Development, and included a wide range of hygiene materials aiming to protect individuals from COVID-19. In addition, based on a needs assessment conducted and through a coordinated efforts with several municipalities, local Community-Based Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and on-duty health care facilities, MUBU responded to the emergency needs of older people. This ranged from securing and delivering food supplies and medicine to regular calls and check-ups.

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Amid the global challenge in securing personal protective equipment for medical staff to fight COVID-19, 40 Jordanian women were at work at the Norseen factory in Northern Jordan making masks and sterile suits. At a time when all but essential workers were barred from leaving the home, these 40 women were at the front line of the fight against COVID-19. Read more here. The women are supported by Jowomenomics, under the project title ‘Womenomics as a Community Priority’ project, supported by the Netherlands.  The project is an employment empowerment program that places women in rural factory jobs.

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In response to COVID-19, UNICEF has undertaken several measures in camps and host communities to ensure that the learning of children with disabilities is not interrupted. UNICEF has provided disability-inclusive workbooks to students from KG2 to Grade 6. These workbooks have been custom designed for each student’s individual education plan. In addition, a number of videos have been produced to accompany the workbooks to support parents in undertaking speech and occupational therapy with their children during the lockdown. Parents are also supported by shadow teachers through WhatsApp groups. In the camps, where to date no cases of COVID-19 have been identified, special permission was obtained by UNICEF to enable shadow teachers to continue to conduct monthly home visits to children in critical situations. Nearly 700 children with disabilities are being served in Azraq and Za’atari refugee camps through this modality.

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As the crisis hit and businesses were forced to close, our partners at Souq Fann established the #shop_to_stop_the_crisis  campaign to encourage people to shop local in order to continue supporting local and women-led businesses. In addition, through short videos published on Souq Fann’s social media, female sellers told viewers how they are coping with the crisis and how they have adapted their businesses. 

Leveraging technological capabilities to continue delivering services

Partners for Good moved its financial literacy training from classrooms to online. By partnering with the largest Arabic online training platform, Edraak and the Micro Fund for Women, the financial literacy course was made available on March 17. By April 30, more than 28,000 people enrolled in the course. The course was also made available to people across the Arab region. Interested in taking this course? Check it out here.

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In their continued effort to reform the juvenile justice system and shift the narrative of the system from punitive to reformative, Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA) took swift steps to adjust their operations and services to comply with government orders on the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that marginalised communities are still able to access their services, JCLA conducted awareness sessions, capacity building workshops and legal consultations online through different communication platforms. A session on cybercrimes was attended by over 2000 participants, made possible because it was held online. In addition, JCLA also launched a social media awareness campaign with the hashtag #سين_جيم_الدفاع  to increase public awareness of the Defence Orders.

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To continue providing young entrepreneurs with mentoring and consultation sessions, our partners at INJAZ were able to move all their main services to virtual platforms. The transition to a more blended-learning method had been in the pipeline for a few months but was expedited due to the corona crisis. In addition, understanding that COVID-19 and the restrictions implemented to limit the spread can be particularly difficult for youth, INJAZ also provided mental-health life coaching sessions for all of their young entrepreneurs.

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Leaders International’s programme aims to work with the Jordan Trail to bring economic benefits to local communities while providing tourists with authentic experiences which the market demands. As airports in Jordan and around the world closed, local communities dependent on tourism quickly began to feel the impact of COVID-19. ViaVii, a small business supported by Leaders International, which aims to connect local communities who lack an online presence with immersive travellers was able to transform their business models to navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic. ViaVii established a new online platform that enables local hosts to hold interactive and paid-for live experiences, which enabled local communities to continue generating an income. Check out ViaVii here.

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Up to 6,000 children enrolled in UNICEF’s non-formal education (NFE) drop-out programme have had access to teacher-student groups via WhatsApp and Facebook. The NFE drop-our programme is supported by the Netherlands and a consortium of donors. These groups are monitored by members of the Ministry of Education’s Supervisory Unit to ensure quality and online safety. Online training of NFE facilitators on distance education is being conducted as well as a database of quality assured e-learning materials created. Free data access to e-learning resources is being provided to all NFE students.

Delivering nuanced and in-depth stories

The Netherlands is committed to promoting quality and investigative journalism and in times of crisis the role of the media in providing the public with information and various points of view is most critical. With our support to 7iber project, a number of young journalists have published widely read in-depth articles that investigate how COVID-19 impacts marginalised communities in Jordan. Stories published by the Ayoon-fellows are among 7iber’s most read pieces in the last couple of months. To read all the stories published so far under the Ayoon project, please click here.

Supporting the Government of Jordan’s response to COVID-19

The Netherlands assists the Government of Jordan in its coordinated response to the corona crisis. Through the World Bank Multi Donor Trust Fund in which the Netherlands is a main donor, resources have been put in place to support the Reforms Secretariat of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation to support their efforts towards economic recovery and resilience.

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Jordanian municipalities were supported with an urgent 2 million JOD diverted from the Municipal Services and Social Resilience Project (MSSRP) – a project implemented by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, supported by the UK, USAID, Netherlands and Canada under the supervision of the World Bank. This urgent support was made to possible to ensure that municipalities are able to respond efficiently to the needs of their citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here (AR).

For the arabic version of this article, please click here.