The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Urban Refugee Dividend – WASH in Jordan

'The urban refugee dividend – rethinking humanitarian aid as urban WASH investment' brings together engineers and social scientists and focuses on water and sanitation (WASH) infrastructure in Jordan.

A view of Mafraq City, Jordan. Many residents only receive water once per week and it is often stored in rooftop tanks (Jimmy Doyle via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This research looks at the issue of forced displacement through a new lens. It will model what could be achieved for refugees and their hosts if resources spent on camp populations were invested instead in services and infrastructure in towns and cities hosting refugees.

More than 60% of the world’s 25 million refugees live in urban centres, with the remainder in rural areas and camps. Most urban refugees do not receive assistance from the United Nations or their host government. Meanwhile camps, conceived as temporary but often in place for decades, absorb significant resources. Urban areas can provide a life of relative normality for displaced people and offer opportunities for better services.

This is one of the world’s most water-scarce countries and home to 655,000 registered Syrian refugees, living in both camps and urban centres. There is a pressing need in Jordan to invest in long-term efficient and equitable solutions for water provision. 

The research also explores the potential knock-on impacts on health and time (particularly of girls and women) for education, leisure and livelihoods, if the improvements to urban water and sanitation systems had been made.  

The project blends research tools from engineering and the social sciences and investigates water technologies and water access and use together. 


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