Creating employment opportunities in waste management

Project description

Title: Waste to (positive) energy in Jordan
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Jordan
Lead executing agency: Jordanian Ministry of Local Administration (MOLA)
Overall term: 2015 to 2023

GIZ2020_Jordan waste management_1


According to UNCHR – the UN Refugee Agency, Jordan is acting as a haven to nearly 670,000 people from Syria, most of whom have been there since 2014 (data from July 2018). However, unofficial estimates are much higher, meaning that the population has increased by at least 10 per cent during this period. The arrival of Syrian refugees has also resulted in dramatically increased quantities of waste. Municipal authorities are often overwhelmed and the consequence is the uncontrolled accumulation of waste. These problems have also led to conflicts between the local population and the Syrian refugees now living in Jordan.


Waste collection and recycling of materials is providing employment for disadvantaged members of the population.

GIZ2020_Jordan waste management_2


The project offers Syrian refugees and Jordanians at risk employment for at least 40 days and also aims to create long-term jobs. As part of a participatory process, a cash-for-work system is being established in 15 municipalities and at two refugee camps. The work covers various tasks, from the collection of waste right through to the processing of materials. 

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has commissioned experienced international non-governmental organisations to implement these cash-for-work measures. OXFAM Germany is running a collection operation for recyclable materials at the Zaatari refugee camp. Syrian workers collect waste and bring it to a recycling centre at the camp where paper, metals and plastics are sorted and processed. The materials are then sold for recycling. The partner organisation World Vision is implementing similar measures at the Azraq refugee camp.

This job-creation initiative is being supported by various dialogue forums and initiatives for raising awareness in the area of waste avoidance. GIZ is cooperating with the international non-governmental organisation ACTED in this regard. The activities are increasing awareness of sustainable waste management and drawing attention to the significance of this issue for health and hygiene. At the same time, the dialogue process is defusing existing tensions among the population.

With further financial support from the European Union, measures are being developed that integrate the informal recycling sector while also improving the working conditions of workers. In addition, various measures for bringing about changes in behaviour in waste management are being developed and tested in selected municipalities. The most successful measures will be implemented nationwide in future.

To establish waste collection and processing on a long-term basis and provide the necessary knowledge, the project is fostering cooperation between Jordanian and German universities.

Since 2020 the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps and individual communities have continued their labour-intensive and sustainable collection and processing of waste with support from the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis. (MADAD). A biogas plant is also being erected to enable the environmentally friendly disposal of sludge in future. The goal is to meet 65 per cent of the sewage treatment plant’s energy needs with biogas.


Thanks to the project, over 27,500 people had already found work by the start of 2020, over 22 per cent of them women. The workers also benefited from on-the-job training in addition to their income. Technical training courses were also conducted. Measures for the period after these jobs have ended are also being provided, such as job placement assistance and additional training.

Centres for collecting recyclable materials have been set up in eight municipalities. The project also set up two pilot composting plants for processing organic waste.

Dialogue forums on waste management that conserves resources and the significance of this issue for health and hygiene were implemented in nine municipalities. More than 4,500 people took part.

Support is also provided to political institutions and municipal representatives in nine municipalities during their implementation of more efficient waste management.

Workers at the recycling centre in the Zataari camp had collected over 3,000 tonnes of recyclable materials, sorted them and processed them for re-sale by the start of 2020.

GIZ2020_Jordan waste management_3