Before and After: The Best We Saw in Human Development in Jordan

September 22, 2021

Mohammed Almoghayer, Senior Partnership Advisor  

It is people who inspire my colleagues to the work they do. This may sound obvious, but in reality, I’m not sure it is. For example, my neighbors and my family think the only work we do is at that refugee camp: airdrops, medical care services and providing lifesaving supplies. That is part of the job, but not all. Ask instead about our purpose and people will tell you of their commitment and passion.

New Horizon

Consider Dareen Hanash, a 28-year-old Jordanian software engineer who gets irritated when she hears of a woman receiving less pay for doing the same job as a man. Her life changed when she enrolled in a 4-month coding course with Silicon Valley gurus in partnership with UNDP and Finland. Not only was she exposed to current best practices in coding, and job placement, once certified, she received numerous job offers, many providing compensation 900% higher than her previous income. Ultimately, she accepted a position with Britecore, a health insurance company. Today she is a top coder in cloud-based core, digital, and data policy administration; she works on systems for property & casualty insurers.

Our work connects us with amazing people like Hanan, a 47-year-old Jordanian mother of seven and widow. She overcame significant obstacles and is now embracing new opportunities. She’s just one success story, in addition to another Forbes story featuring UNDP and Japan support to women and youth-led startups and business enterprises creating a hub that connect all to become part of the entrepreneurship ecosystem to solve challenges of the City of Amman. Our projects inspire those we serve by opening new opportunities for the most vulnerable. These programmes impact and change lives of people and entire communities.


Every project begins with a simple idea. When Jordan was hit by an influx of refugees, I recall a colleague coming to the 8:15 am meeting with fresh insights from the streets explaining why people protested and what they wanted. We added these to the knowledge gained working with host communities and the refugees, strategizing ways to create rapid gains, the first step in empowerment. For example, we equipped Jordanian farmers with expertise and tools to reimagine their work and what they produced. This resulted in increased dairy production and created a new brand of cheese. The farmers’ products are now labeled and marketed in Jordan and regionally, creating a new locally sourced product and filling a market need.

But our work doesn’t stop at education, ideas and information. We provide financing, expert marketing and branding, plus technical support. We look at every project, specifically focusing on how it will transition people out of poverty as featured by another Forbes piece. This is our ultimate goal, past, present and future.

Green Economy

Consider the 22-square kilometer wildlife reserve that has become a home to one of Jordan’s most precious treasures, the Arabian oryx. The reserve is administered by Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and UNDP; protecting it has created jobs for its residents.

On the theme of environmental protection and enterprise, meet Zainab, a 44-year-old woman who entered the job market 20-years after graduation. She created her own project that also created jobs for other women in her community. It involves women going door-to-door, collecting recyclable waste from homes. This simple solution is changing the history of solid waste management in the country. Her story was featured in Reuters and the New York Times in 2020. UNDP Jordan has since been approached by Gulf States to copy Zainab’s model solid waste management line diversification. A net result for the community has been an increase in responsible consumption behaviors and increased understanding of what is recyclable, and what is not.

Tenacity and Persistence

As many of my colleagues can attest, persistence leads to impactful results. Results realized include the installation of the autoclave machines, which have been instrumental in tackling Jordan’s COVID19 medical waste. Another is the triage tents constructed and erected to service 1-million people, including 300,000  refugees in Jordan. Another is the women entrepreneur who has watched her online store’s popularity soar during lockdowns and her sales reaching into the tens of thousands over the same period. 

These wins are what inspire us, drive us and motivate us to do better. That’s why, at the end of every year, we look back at what was achieved, and the differences these achievements made in the lives of the people who need help most. With each life changed, many more in the community are positively impacted. We see the common threads of struggle, challenges, endeavor and new paths of success.

Of course, the work is ongoing. Follow our progress through our regular Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Exposure updates. Make sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter DeVibes. These stories are simply a glimpse of the inspiration we take from the people we serve in Jordan, in addition to UNDP’s extensive experience of working and partnering with array of stakeholders, including Government, IFIs and private sector- allows it to meaningfully support Jordan towards achieving the SDGs and strengthening the livelihoods of millions of people. Ultimately, it is the positive change in lives and communities that drives our commitment in all we do.