Forced displacement driven by the protracted conflicts in Syria and Iraq is having a profound impact on urban infrastructure and the management of natural resources in and around towns in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, affecting both refugees and host communities in the already fragile social and agro-ecological systems. Continued food aid and other assistance and service provision to the refugees residing outside the camps, predominantly in urban areas, is not attainable in the current crisis response. The situation calls for to the urgent fostering of resilience at the local level.
In 2015 RUAF began a collaboration with Spontaneous City International, in the context of the Syrian Refugee crisis, with a geographical focus on the region of Mafraq in Northern Jordan. An inventory on the role of food and agriculture has been commissioned by the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNGI), working with Amsterdam under the LogoRep Programme in Jordan.
Furthermore, RUAF with key partners as CAWR, Lemon Tree Trust, and has been developing its activities linking urban agriculture, food systems and urban planning.
The aim of the work in Northern Jordan is to support both host and refugee communities residing in urban areas and in Al Za’atari refugee camp under the wider umbrella of regional development.
- A first mission in 2015 suggested promoting local development by stimulating local food production, processing and marketing, and to provide assistance to the national and local authorities in improving participatory planning and service provision related to food.
- During the subsequent mission in July 2016, a number of interventions were identified to support the development of small-scale, integrated food and gardening activities for host and refugee communities residing in urban and rural areas, as well as in and around the refugee camp areas. These interventions in the local food system should be linked to the infrastructural framework and planning scenarios developed by VNGI and the municipality of Amsterdam, with different possible futures for the Al Za'atari camp and the region, trying to bridge the gap between short-term humanitarian aid and medium- to long-term sustainable development. The aim is to create connections between people, nutrients, water, products and services. This work will be further developed with VNGI. Similar work could benefit Lebanon (where VNGI and the cities of Almere and The Hague have projects), as well as other countries and organisations.