News: Building Bridges. Fostering dialogue for a resilient Mafraq

The increase of population in the Jordanian communities mainly due to the arrival of refugees has meant a greater competition for increasingly scarce resources. As it has been warned for some time, this situation is unsustainable because the lack of socio-economic opportunities, especially among the youngest generations, increases the tension in the communities generating distrust between the host and refugee population. For that reason, the humanitarian and the refugee crisis becomes even more acute: the crisis in the provision of services and basic products is accompanied by a social and political crisis that threatens the stability of the country. Likewise, the absence of social cohesion is accompanied by a distrust of institutions (both local and national), exacerbating the lack of interest in politics and in any type of civic participation.
All the factors mentioned above are an excellent breeding ground for those groups that propagate violent extremist ideas, according to various reports from international organizations working in the area. For this reason, Jordanian civil society is working directly within the communities to prevent violent extremism, raising awareness amongst the youth and promoting non-violent participation alternatives. Few days ago, one of these projects ended after a successful implementation.
The project “Building Bridges”, executed by the Jordanian partner ARDD and Novact and fund by the City Council of Barcelona and by CNCV, has aimed to strength the civic participation capacities among the young population of the city of Mafraq, in the north of Jordan. Promoting fluid dialogue in the community and strengthening cohesion between the host and refugee population have been the two main objectives of the project, which has, as a general objective, reducing the negative impact of the humanitarian crisis on political and social dynamics.

Young people between 18 and 30 years old have participated in numerous trainings in which they were introduced to civic participation and social dialogue as mechanisms for social and political transformation. For that porpoise, interactive sessions were held in which Mafraq’s problems were addressed in order to land the theoretical foundations. The participants themselves identified the challenges of the population inside their community: the lack of a good education and job opportunities. The different trainers conducted various activities and exercises to acquire new techniques and tools in conflict management, in negotiations, in participatory processes, etc. The implementation was carried out through social dialogues regarding the reality of public education and the roles of the student community and the teaching staff. These sessions were attended by representatives of teachers’ unions and the Ministry of Education and workers in the education sector, as well as the youth who has participated before.
Finally, from Novact, an intensive training course in peace building and mediation was organized for the most committed participants in the previous sessions, in which the potential of the youth of Mafraq to lead transformation processes in the community was latent.
Finally, on July 26, the closing ceremony of the project took place in the city of Mafraq, an emotional event in which the young generations showed their commitment to their community and in which they reiterated the need to provide opportunities and alternatives to promote the social cohesion avoiding greater effects of the humanitarian crisis.