The Bernard van Leer Foundation has worked in Jordan since 2016, when we created our Refugee Response portfolio: Jordan has a large number of refugees from Syria, who live in camps and host communities. In 2021, Jordan became a core country for us, meaning that we created a dedicated country team to coordinate with partners and run programmes on the ground.

Early childhood services in Jordan remain fragmented, with government responsibility split across several ministries – health, social development and education. Both government and donors tend to focus more of their early-years funding on formal preschool education than on support for infants and toddlers and their caregivers. We are working to raise awareness of the need to invest more comprehensively in a range of early-years interventions.

Photo: Courtesy of Reem AlZumi/Plan International Jordan

Our work in Jordan

We are leveraging the relationships we have built in Jordan to support our partners to deliver interventions under the Foundation’s Parents+ and Urban95 strategies, together addressing multiple challenges facing young children and their families. We are looking for opportunities to incorporate an early-years focus in activities that are taking place at scale or have the potential to do so.

Working with caregivers

Our Parents+ work combines parent coaching with other services that meet families’ needs – such as health, nutrition or childcare – as a way of achieving scale and improving the effectiveness of both the coaching activities and the services with which they are combined.

Photo: Courtesy of Tara Todras-Whitehill/Sesame Workshop

For example, we are working with Plan International and the Royal Health Awareness Society to expand parent support in Mother and Child Health Centres, run by the Ministry of Health; with the International Rescue Committee on the uptake by national stakeholders of approaches developed as part of the Ahlan Simsim initiative; with the World Health Organization on children’s and caregivers’ mental health; with the National Council for Family Affairs on monitoring early years programming and policies; with Queen Rania Foundation on research into behavioural change; and with the International Institute for Environment and Development on research into the experiences of refugees in camps and urban settings.

Working with cities

Children and caregivers in Jordan’s urban areas spend much of their time indoors – in homes, nurseries, restaurants and shopping centres. Air quality is often an issue, due to pollution from sources such as smoking and ventilation that is often inadequate. We are working with partners including the Royal Scientific Society, Royal Health Awareness Society and Civic Majlisna for Societal Development to support research into the relationship between indoor air quality and young children’s wellbeing, and to strengthen government action in this area.

Photo: Courtesy of CIVIC

Also with Majlisna for Societal Development, we are working to apply Urban95 principles – seeing the world from the perspective of a 3-year-old child – in Syrian refugee camps and Jordanian host communities in municipalities such as the Greater Amman Municipality and Al-Azraq Municipality.