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International cooperation improves wastepickers' conditions, North-Eastern Jordan

Growing population caused difficulties for waste management in last 10 years. Foreign NGOs give better conditions to the informal sector but urban street wastepickers, still not fully recognized.


Over the past few years, Jordan has experienced a rapid increase in its Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)  generation rate. In 2014, it was estimated that around 2.7 million tons of municipal solid waste were collected by the competent authorities. In comparison, the MSW collected in 2009 was only 1.9 million tons [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:International cooperation improves wastepickers' conditions, North-Eastern Jordan
State or province:Governorates of Irbid, Mafraq, Amman and Zarqa
Location of conflict:Urban centres of the North-Eastern governorates
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Aluminum/Bauxite
Domestic municipal waste
Plastic, Textile
Rare metals
Recycled Metals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There are two different ongoing projects regarding waste-management in North-Eastern Jordan:

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Level of Investment for the conflictive project15,500,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:9050
Start of the conflict:28/07/2012
Relevant government actors:Local
-Jordanian Ministry of Municipal Affairs
-Jordanian Regional Joint Service Councils
-Jordanian Ministry of Environment
-Municipal Comittees of Irbid, Mafraq, Amman and Zarqa

-Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMK-GIZ)
-Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
-Global Affairs Canada
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) from France - Aids with the sorting and recycling activities at the Zaatari Camp
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America - Ensures that the labour contracts provided to wastepickers at the Al-Akaidir Landfill fulfill standards
OXFAM International (OXFAM) from United Kingdom - Main actor involved in the waste-management project at the Zaatari Refugee Camp
Japanese Emergency NGO (JEN) from Japan - Aids with the sorting and recycling activities at the Zaatari Camp
Jordan Green Building Council (JGBC) from Jordan - Has provided an informative booklet on MSW in Jordan, addressing the need to formalize and integrate wastepickers
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Towards Zero Waste Initiative Jordan
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Shareholder/financial activism.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Waste overflow
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The formalization of wastepickers whether at the Al-Akaidir Landfill or the Zaatari Refugee Camp can be considered as a success. However, the North-Eastern region of Jordan has 3 other large dumpsites that have not been subject to the same modernization process. One can assume that landfill wastepickers still labour at these dumpsites under circumstances that are far from optimal. They either hold very precarious labour contracts with recycling companies or the Joint Service Councils or no contract at all.

Furthermore, the urban centres in this region are still struggling with municipal solid waste management and approximately 1100 wastepickers operating in the cities of Irbid, Amman and Mafraq are still struggling to make ends meet in the face of police surpression and non-cooperative middle-men and recycling companies.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Solid waste composition analysis and recycling evaluation: Zaatari Syrian Refugees Camp, Jordan (Saidan et al., 03/2017)
[click to view]

[6] Solid Waste Value Chain Analysis. Irbid and Mafraq, Jordan (UNDP Jordan, 06/2016)
[click to view]

[14] Trash Talk Turning waste into work in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp (Oxfam Jordan, 08/2017)
[click to view]

[15] Solid Waste Management in Jordan (Aljaradin, 11/2014)
[click to view]

[5] Your Guide to Waste Management in Jordan (Jordan GBC & Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2016)
[click to view]

[7] Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan's landfills (Cuthbert, 08/2016)
[click to view]

[8] New Solid Waste Recovery and Recycling Contract Improves Livelihood of Waste Pickers in Jordanian Landfills (UN Jordan, 09/2017)
[click to view]

[9] Empowering women and protecting the environment through waste management (Government of Canada, 01/2018)
[click to view]

[11] Scavenging for a living in Jordan (Whitman, 12/2014)
[click to view]

[12] Refugees turn waste into work at Zaatari camp (Dupire, 10/2017)
[click to view]

[13] Cash for work: Job campaign gives people new opportunities (BMZ, Date Unknown)
[click to view]

[16] Trash scavenging scaring away waste management investors' (Namrouqa, 02/2016)
[click to view]

[17] Towards Zero Waste Initiative Jordan – Amal’s Story (My Amman Life, 04/2018)
[click to view]

The increase Jordanian population over the last 10 years has caused difficulties for the country’s waste management. International NGO's are providing the informal sector with better conditions but urban street wastepickers are still not fully recognized.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Chandni Dwarkasing - EnvJustice ICTA-UAB
Last update26/12/2019
Conflict ID:4857
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