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Jordan Launches the Shamil Project supported by the UK to Strengthen Social Protection in the Country


Read in Arabic/قراءة باللغة العربية 

Amman – Under the sponsorship of His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal the Shamil project “Moving Forward with a Shared Agenda for Social Protection” was launched on Wednesday, 6 March 2024. Funded by the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Shamil is a consortium led by UK consultancy firm Development Pathways in collaboration with national partners Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) and MMIS Management Consultants, which aims to advance efforts towards building an inclusive and sustainable social protection system in Jordan. The Shamil Technical Assistance project is a core component of the UK’s five-year, Strengthening Societal and Economic Resilience in Jordan (SSERJ) program.

Underlining the significance of the Shamil project, former minister and representative of Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Dr Hala Lattouf, delivered a keynote speech. This emphasized the crucial role social protection plays in enhancing Jordan’s development and strengthening trust between citizens and the government. She also called for a flexible and comprehensive approach to social protection systems, and close cooperation between different parties. Lattouf added that building trust, reducing discrimination between women and men, and ensuring a more equitable society is the ultimate goal for Jordan. She pointed out that the multidimensional poverty index allows us to improve and develop our approach and that we need to focus on building a strong social system that targets different segments of society.

Shedding light on the UK government’s support for social protection in Jordan, the British Ambassador H.E. Philip Hall said “The UK prioritizes social protection because it is one of the most effective tools for reducing poverty, promoting social stability and increasing standards of living. It can be a powerful driver for economic growth by enhancing productivity, and it can promote social stability and resilience by mitigating the effects of shocks and economic reforms. Through the Shamil project, we want to help Jordan achieve its objectives for its social protection system by ensuring the availability of national and international expert advice.”

The launch event brought together key stakeholders including civil society, the governmental sector, development partners, and national and international organizations. Interventions from key stakeholders tackling issues that shape social protection in Jordan were made by H.E. Wafa Bani Mustafa, The Minister of Social Development; Issa Murad, the Chairperson of the Labour and Social Development Committee in the Senate; Dr Mohammad Al-Tarawneh, Director General of the Social Security Corporation; and Khitam Shneikat, Director General of the National Aid Fund.

Minister Bani Mustafa highlighted the royal directives aimed at reviewing the Jordan National Social Protection Strategy and enhancing its alignment with modernisation initiatives in the political, economic, and administrative realms. Emphasising the global challenges facing social protection in Jordan, she underscored the necessity for collective action to ensure its widespread positive impact, and to enable communities in Jordan to face any challenges or regional crises.

The Minister also stressed the importance of effective coordination between governmental and civil society sectors to ensure that modernisation programmes are compatible with social protection requirements and to work as together as a team to develop and improve social protection schemes and programmes. She stated the need for the participation of social protection institutions in the public, civil, and private sectors, drawing upon their experience and expertise in this effort. She pointed out that the goal of the National Social Protection Strategy is to preserve the dignity of Jordanians, and that it is the result of national efforts from ministries and partner institutions.

In a speech delivered by Dr Mohammad Al-Tarawneh on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, it was highlighted that the Jordan National Social Protection Strategy is structured around three key pillars: dignity, empowerment, and opportunity. The Dignity pillar focuses on uplifting the most vulnerable individuals in society, ensuring they are lifted above the poverty line through periodic assistance. The Empowerment pillar targets the middle class, comprising most of the workforce in Jordan’s private sector, by providing essential services such as healthcare, education, transportation, and housing. While the Opportunity pillar aims to create favourable conditions for decent job opportunities for all.

Addressing the challenges confronting the Jordanian labour market, Al-Tarawneh emphasized the need to address the distribution of roles between the public and private sectors along with civil society institutions. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of empowering women in the labour market, given that approximately 13% of Jordanian families are headed by women. He stressed the necessity of exploring various mechanisms to support and empower them.

In his remarks, Senator Issa Murad, the Chairperson of the Labour and Social Development Committee in the Senate, underscored the imperative of expanding social protection systems by establishing a comprehensive database to enhance efforts in this domain. He emphasized the importance of inclusivity, advocating for the inclusion of all groups under the protective umbrella irrespective of their nationality.

Introducing the Shamil Project, Stephen Kidd, Development Pathways CEO stressed the importance of a comprehensive social protection system in these challenging times, both globally and within Jordan. He added that “Shamil stands as a responsive, demand-driven solution, where social protection is not charity but a fundamental right. Aligned with the Economic Modernisation Vision, with its two pillars—social security and professional services, it becomes the driving force behind sustainable growth.”

Samar Muhareb, ARDD´s Executive Director shared her profound appreciation for HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal´s support of the event which underscores the stakeholders´ collective commitment to advancing inclusive social protection agendas in Jordan. She added how “Amid current and past conflicts and crises in our region, the demand for robust social protection measures has become increasingly clear across governmental, civil, and human rights sectors. The continuous crises have underscored the urgent need to strengthen coordinated responses towards inclusive social protection systems for all and enhance these systems, especially for individuals and communities in situations of vulnerability. It is crucial to transition from ad hoc responses to comprehensive social protection mechanisms grounded in rights. Collaborative efforts are essential in this endeavour, and projects like Shamil underscore the value of building partnerships and synergies among all stakeholders, providing vital support in strengthening inclusive and sustainable social protection systems in Jordan.Top of Form

Ahmad Abboushi, Director of MMIS Management Consultants, stated, “We are honoured to launch this groundbreaking program under the esteemed patronage of HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal and with the invaluable support of the United Kingdom. This project marks a pivotal moment in our collective journey towards establishing a comprehensive social protection system that not only addresses immediate needs, but also laying the foundation for sustainable development and resilience in our communities. Together with our implementing partners, we are embarking on a path that promises to enhance the well-being of individuals and families, ensuring that no one is left behind in our pursuit of a more inclusive and prosperous future.”

During a session tackling the achievements and challenges facing social protection in Jordan, Dr Mohammad Al-Tarawneh; Director General of the Social Security Corporation addressed Jordan’s intention to transition towards a model that prioritizes self-sufficiency and strengthening of social protection, fostering flexibility and self-reliance for the future.

From her side, Khitam Shneikat, Director General of the National Aid Fund emphasized the importance of integrating families into economic empowerment programmes and developing comprehensive and diverse protection systems. Shneikat stated, “We are committed to creating viable job opportunities to support financially disadvantaged families, and we are actively reviewing legislative frameworks this year to align with the Fund’s objectives.”

Giving an overview of the “Shamil: Technical Assistance for Inclusive Social Protection” project Bernard Wyler, Shamil Team Leader stated, “During our inception phase, in a very short time we have seen tremendous interest in the idea of comprehensive social protection for Jordan. This encourages us that Shamil can play a key role in helping Jordan set the foundation for comprehensive social protection. The vision of comprehensive social protection for all Jordanians matches the Government of Jordan’s level of ambition in its Economic Modernization Vision. It will provide a key element to support its success.”

The participants concluded that Jordan has an established and successful history of interventions in the field of social protection, that nonetheless can be built upon and further strengthened including through an ambitious, long-term vision harmonized with Jordan’s key strategies. They also stressed the importance of collaborative efforts in prioritising universal access to social services and tailoring assistance for vulnerable populations including women and persons with disability.