The ESC’s President and a Team of Researchers Visit Wadi Araba

10/25/2018

The Council is at the onset of conducting an analytical study on the economic and social conditions in the Wadi Araba district in Jordan. The study is aimed at understanding the area’s social and economic needs; to provide recommendations and potential solutions to the difficulties and challenges faced in this district. In light of the ESC’s work, the President along with researchers from the Council visited the district on the 25th of October 2018 to meet with the official bodies working in the field, civil society institutions and some of the district’s residents.

The initial session was attended by the director of the Wadi Araba district, the executive director of the Wadi Araba Development Company, the head of the local police center, the heads and the former heads of the municipalities from the Wadi Araba district, the deputy chairman of the governorate council and several of the civil society’s organizations. 

 The session started with a welcome note by the director of the Wadi Araba district in which he stressed the importance of the Council’s visit in exploring the current state of the district and accordingly drawing the required perceptions for the development of the district. After which the Council’s President, Dr Mustafa Hamarneh, spoke of the main aims of this exploratory visit in listening to the local community about the current state of the district and the challenges it faces. With the Council’s role as the government’s think-tank and consultative body, Dr Hamarneh is hopeful that this study will provide the required knowledge and potential solutions for the development of the district.

 During the session, people from the local community expressed that the district is considered the poorest in the country, and that they have become hopeless from all the visits they have hosted believing they were futile.

 The heads of the municipalities of the Wadi Araba district expressed some of the problems and challenges faced in the district. One of which being the lack of infrastructure needed to attract large investments to the district. Specific reference was made with regards to the roads connecting the district with other parts of the country. For example, the road leading to Aqaba has been built over 40 years without much maintenance. It was pointed out that since this road is mainly used by 3 large companies, they should contribute to the maintenance of the roads and the infrastructure of the district. Another issue facing the district is regarding the health services provided, and so a request was made on the importance of establishing a public healthcare center in the district. Other issues that were referred to include, the importance of starting industrial projects in the district, the importance of the government to search for irrigation sources for the agricultural units in the district, and to the problem of rising poverty and unemployment levels.

 Another issue referred to was in relation to the Wadi Araba Development Company, and the difficulty it faces in implementing projects due to the policies that govern the company. The fact that its budget is part of the Jordan Valley Authority’s budget is what steers the company away from its development dimension towards implementing other projects within the water sector. Therefore having an independent budget will be necessary for the company to work towards the development of the district.

 Other issues referred to involve the Wadi Musa Dam being under study for the past 30 years even though it serves 1200 acres, also suggesting building another dam. The tourism sector was also discussed pointing to the obstacles that hinder the development of any tourist complex.

 Women from the local community also took part in the discussion pointing out the nonexistence of projects that target female participation in the labor market. One lady requested a new building for the charity she runs which serves 18 children with special needs and 60 orphans. Another lady requested emphasis to be placed on improving education provision pointing to the fact that not a single student passed the General Secondary Examination (Tawjehi) for the school year 2017-2018.

 The President of the Council concluded the session emphasizing the need to empower the local community by establishing sustainable projects, according to the Province’s competitive advantage, as income generating opportunities. He emphasized the importance of creating projects that would specifically allow women to work and utilize their potential skills to support their families in increasing household income and improving living standards.