Waste to positive Energy

Project description

Title: Waste to (positive) Energy in Jordan
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Special Initiative "Tackling the root causes of displacement – reintegrating refugees"
Country: Jordan
Lead executing agency: Jordanian Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MoMA)
Overall term: 2015 to 2017



Since the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, some 6.6 million people have been displaced within their own country, while around 4.8 million have fled Syria, mostly to neighbouring countries. Jordan alone is hosting more than 655,000 Syrians, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). However, unofficial estimates indicate that the real figure is considerably higher. Some suggest that Jordan’s population has increased by at least 10 per cent because of the arrival of large numbers of refugees from Syria.

This population increase is putting a strain on host municipalities, which are no longer able to deliver adequate public services. Waste disposal systems, which were insufficient even before, are under pressure as a result of the higher volume of waste. According to a study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2014), the daily volume of waste generated in Qasabat municipality in northern Jordan has increased from 300 tonnes to more than 500 tonnes, posing major disposal problems for the municipal authorities. The resulting build-up of waste puts health at risk and, in a worst-case scenario, can lead to outbreaks of cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. This is a difficult situation for everyone, with the potential also to trigger conflicts between local communities and Syrian refugees.


Labour-intensive collection and processing of recyclable waste reduces potential for conflicts and reduces the environment impact in host communities.


In around 22 Jordanian municipalities such as Irbid, Ar Ramtha, Mafraq and Wasattyah as well as in refugee camps and recreational areas remedy is now at hand: Jordanian and Syrian workers are collecting and separating waste and processing the precious resources that it contains. This eases the burden on the municipalities, improves hygiene and curbs the spread of diseases.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and its local partners provide work, train workers in waste separation and management and supply them with essential equipment, such as carts and compactors. GIZ also ensures compliance with workplace health and safety regulations: For example, all workers must be immunised and wear protective clothing. Waste disposal workers are employed either full- or part-time or on a daily basis. These various employment options are open to both local residents and Syrian refugees. By working together, the two communities are building closer relations, which helps to prevent conflict.

In addition, all residents in the municipalities can make a long-term contribution to waste avoidance by attending events where they learn more about recycling, environmental protection, health and hygiene and by joining working groups that offer opportunities for discussions with experts.

The project is part of the BMZ special initiative ‘Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement, Reintegrating Refugees’, which provides short-term support to refugees and their host communities. In the long term, sustainable measures are designed to eliminate the structural causes of displacement, such as social inequality and food insecurity. This particular project helps to provide work for refugees and host communities and promotes social cohesion, health and sustainable regional development.


The work is labour-intensive and is employing around 6,000 Syrians and Jordanians in 2016 alone. In addition to earning an income, these workers benefit from training opportunities.

Besides providing employment and skills, the project will, until the end of 2017, support a range of partners, including political institutions, private households, community representatives, companies and business start-ups. The aim is to ensure that recycling and waste reduction activities are both successful and sustainable.


In the host communities in Irbid and Mafraq, for example, there is potential for 1,000 tonnes of compost, 150 tonnes of paper and cardboard and 120 tonnes of plastic waste to be collected each month. Each worker is given gloves and a protective jacket and is supplied with waste collection equipment, such as brooms, pickers and carts. Waste disposal vehicles and bins, containers, recycling points and composting facilities are being provided for some municipalities.

Additional information