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Social Cohesion and Integration of Refugees with Local Communities

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Apr 01, 2020 / 0 Comments

Social activities are an essential starting point for a successful integration of Syrian refugees in the host community. This project aims to strengthen communication among all parties to help refugees achieve social stability and mitigate the impact of the economic crisis, as well as help members of the host community to accept and support newcomers and their contribution to local development.

 

Lead Authority or Organization: Municipality of Sahab, Cities and Villages Development Bank, Ministry of Municipal Affairs under the Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project (ESSRP) 

Area: Municipality of Sahab, Jordan

Beneficiaries: Members of the local community and Syrian refugees, especially children, women, and people with special needs.

Timeline: January 2015 – December 2015

Human Resources: Municipality staff, non-governmental organizations, volunteers.

Funding Amount: $50,000

Source of Funding: Funding is under the Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project which is funded by a special multi-donor trust fund, and managed by the World Bank.

 

Context and Challenges

Following the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan experienced a high influx of Syrian refugees. The Municipality of Sahab recently became an independent municipality, administratively and financially, and this affected its ability to provide services to the local community. With the increasing number of refugees, the provision of basic services has become a burden, as Syrian refugees in 2015 were 30% of the total population in Sahab.

 

The Municipality of Sahab faces enormous pressure on health, education, and infrastructure services. Moreover, the difference in cultures and customs between the Syrian and the local community make it necessary to strengthen social integration, enhance communication between the two communities, and identify their needs. 

 

Actions and Reported Results

The project went through the following steps: 

  • Identification of a project management unit and main project partners.
  • Preparation of a plan of social activities through community proposals and seminars held continuously via website and social media.
  • Financing. Allocation of a $50,000 sum for social activities.
  • Needs assessment workshops.
  • Social gatherings: Eid celebrations, tree planting, provision of playgrounds for children.
  • Training courses for women. Educational courses for women to empower them and help them create their projects.
  • Mitigation of social conflicts. School bags were distributed to Jordanian and Syrian children to reduce the negative social impact deriving from charity actions directed at Syrian only.
  • Awareness-raising campaigns targeting high school students. Organization of awareness sessions for youth in schools to integrate the refugee community with the Jordanian community.
  • Activities for people with special needs from the Syrian and host communities aimed at sharing their needs, such as joint workshops and sports activities and competitions.

 

Reported Results

  • Increased economic opportunities for women. Joint activities and five educational courses for Syrian and Jordanian women led to the creation of three home-cooking economic projects by women, who are promoting the sale of their products via social networks.
  • Increased social cohesion between the host and refugee communities. About 70% of Sahab residents (refugees and Jordanians) have benefitted from the socialization activities.  

 

Evidence and Beneficiary Feedback

 

Activities were defined based on the social needs of targeted groups:

  • Planting Trees
  • Distribution of schoolbags
  • Activities for people with special needs
  • Eid celebration 

 

Lessons Learned

Challenges and Risks

One of the most important challenges is the emergence of new social needs due to the influx of new refugees to the region, along with the difficulty posed by limited funding.

 

Key Ingredients of Success

  • Participation of the local administration, headed up by the mayor, in all activities.
  • Role of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Cities and Villages Development Bank in the project.
  • The involvement of members from both communities in designing activities that enhanced social cohesion and joint participation.
  • Inclusion of projects for vulnerable groups such as children, women, and people with special needs.

 

Innovative Aspects

  • Involving youth in organizing the work
  • Creating social networks to reach all parties
  • Training courses to create projects between the two communities

 

Scaling-up

In order to foster social cohesion between Syrians and the local community, the Municipality of Sahab will develop an entertainment and social center during the second phase of the project with the aim to increase cohesion between refugees and Jordanians, and integrating new refugees into the community.

 

Collaborations

  • Local associations
  • Schools
  • Municipality of Sahab
  • Cities and Villages Development Bank
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs
  • World Bank

 

This post is part of a series of case-studies published in the CMI 2018 Refugees' Compendium and featuring host communities experiences in hosting refugees with relation to local economic development. The information in-here was provided by focal points in the relevant institutions, NGOs, local governments, etc

 

Read the story on the compendium

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