The half million Jordanians who wake up each day in poverty have reason to hope. In May His Majesty King Abdullah launched a comprehensive social safety net program to combat poverty at all levels and boost the skills and resources of the country’s most disenfranchised families. Billed "Poverty Alleviation for a Stronger Jordan" and based on a report by the Ministry of Social Development, the strategy was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in June.
After attending the May ceremony launching the poverty alleviation strategy, Nathan President John Beyer recalled the U.S. Government's commitment to spending $250 million annually in Jordan. He noted, "this strategy puts Jordan out front in poverty alleviation. . . . if successful, it could become a model for dozens of other countries." Nathan Associates is providing technical assistance to Jordan's Ministry of Social Development through the USAID-funded Jordan Poverty Alleviation Program (JPAP).
Taking a holistic approach to alleviating poverty, the new strategy aims to
The strategy also aims to revamp the National Aid Fund (NAF), which was set up in 1986 to help households with no source of income. Under the new strategy, assistance to households will increase to 156 Jordanian Dinars (JD), or about US$ 223, and will be more closely tied to poor families who have at least one member working full time.
Using data from the Household Expenditure and Income Survey (HEIS), the World Bank has defined the poverty line in Jordan at JD313.5 per person per year (US$448). The 1997 HEIS, the latest poverty assessment conducted in the Kingdom, estimated that 523,000 Jordanians were living below the poverty line in 1999. As of August 2001, the NAF was providing cash assistance to 50,347 families or 154,476 individuals, or only about 30 percent of the poor. It is hoped that the new strategy, with its practical approach, will reduce poverty significantly by delivering assistance more broadly, efficiently, and effectively.