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Jordan: Socio-economic framework for COVID-19 response, Update January 2021

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As the COVID-19 crisis enters its second year, the United Nations (UN) in Jordan continues to respond to its impacts as outlined in the UN Socio-Economic Framework issued in July 2020. This update provides information on the evolving situation in the Kingdom including new data and additional measures in place to respond to the crisis. The Update does not report on the UN response during 2020, but provides new information on emerging trends, needs and associated updates to programming activities, covering the period January to December 2021.

Part 1 - The United Nations Global Response

Setting the stage

During the last months of 2020, the second major wave of the COVID-19 pandemic saw worldwide COVID-19 cases reach 70 million, with approximately 2 million recorded deaths.

Government mitigating measures and restrictions exacerbated the global recession, resulting in the world’s largest decrease in per capita output since 18702 . The World Bank estimated that by the end of 2020 an additional 88 million people would face extreme poverty.

Enterprises struggled to maintain business operations, with over 80 per cent of the world’s workforce faced with job loss or declining working hours, including in critical sectors such as manufacturing and services4 . In the longer-term, high unemployment and underemployment coupled with dwindling public and private financial resources will continue to impact businesses as well as the quality of health, education, social assistance and public institutions.

The United Nations’ (UN) response to the pandemic includes a three-tiered comprehensive approach,focusing on health, livelihoods and recovering better. First, following WHO guidance and the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, the health response is supporting efforts to develop and rollout vaccines, improve diagnostic and treatment capacities, and strengthen public health preparedness. Second, focusing on livelihoods and vulnerable groups of people, the UN has pushed for a comprehensive stimulus package, with a target of at least 10 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), alongside massive support to developing countries. Third, in line with the Sustainable Development Agenda, UN programming, policy and advocacy initiatives aim to ‘build forward better’ to support more equal, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient economies and societies.

The UN’s response in Jordan is also informed by recommendations laid out in the July 2020 UN policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on the Arab region7 . The four main recommendation reinforce the need to build forward better by:

  1. taking immediate steps to slow the spread of the disease, end conflict and meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable;

  2. deepening efforts to address inequalities by investing in universal health and education, social protection floors, and technology;

  3. boosting economic recovery through reimagining the region’s economic model in favour of more diversified, green economies and

  4. prioritizing human rights, ensuring a vibrant civil society and free media and creating more accountable institutions that will increase citizen trust and strengthen the social contract.

In Jordan, the overarching aim of the UN’s response is to support the government’s efforts to mitigate and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through three mutually supporting tiers:

  1. support to the health response;

  2. humanitarian assistance for refugee populations in camps, urban settings and vulnerable host communities, which incorporates a resilience approach; and

  3. mitigating the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 by scaling up the UN’s development response, including strengthening in-country capacities to build forward better. The three tiers operate within the UN Jordan’s existing humanitarian and development coordination structures, inclusive of government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the international and national partners in Jordan.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit