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Atlas of Jordan

Myriam Ababsa

Chapter nine - City Planning, Local Governance and Urban Policies

Upgrading Policies with Participation

Myriam Ababsa

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1From 1980 to 1997, Jordan was a model in the field of regeneration of urban slums in the Middle East, being the first Arab country to apply the new developmental ideology advocated by the World Bank in Latin America and Asia, whereby inhabitants of informal areas participate in all the stages of renovating their home and can become homeowners via long-term loans guaranteed by the State.

2In 1980, a quarter of the city of Amman was occupied by informal settlements inhabited by Palestinian refugees. The insecure position of refugee populations living in informal settlements in Amman, in the heart of the old districts of the capital where they were highly visible, became a national problem. In 1980, at the instigation of the World Bank, the Urban Development Department (UDD) was created within the Greater Amman Municipality to develop an urban renewal project in informal settlements located in the east of Amman. From the outset, Jordan implemented very avant-garde policies in terms of urban renewal. The UDD applied the new concepts of urban renewal advocated by the World Bank: i.e. “funding of real estate ownership” (land was purchased by the UDD and sold to squatters); “cost recovery” to allow the replication of the project; “self-construction” by squatters who thus learn building trades; “job opportunities” whereby half the employed labourers must be recruited from the local population; “community involvement” to facilitate upgrading and adapt it to the real needs of the inhabitants; and “incremental housing” that develops from a central unit equipped with a sanitation section (a tap with running water and a toilet with a sewer) (fig. IX.35).

Figure IX.35 — HUDC Housing and informal settlements upgrading projects in Amman, Ruseifa and Zarqa from 1980 to 2008.

Figure IX.35 — HUDC Housing and informal settlements upgrading projects in Amman, Ruseifa and Zarqa from 1980 to 2008.

3However, following the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (Oslo Accords in September 1993 and the Wadi Araba Accord in January 1994), the Jordanian government, through the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDC), changed its methods of intervention in the country’s camps and informal areas, to focus solely on the provision of services, with security as a clear priority. Once again, Jordan was ahead of the other host countries (Lebanon and Syria) since it was the first country to integrate all UNRWA camps in its new urban renewal policies. Although the camps are not legally or administratively informal areas, their morphology is similar to the informal areas surrounding them: self-built upper floors, a very high density of buildings and a lack of infrastructure.

4After thirty years of urban renewal, Amman is still characterized by strong contrasts between poor, highly populated neighbourhoods where unemployment rates are high, and neighbourhoods primarily located in the west but also in the north-west and south west, where the active population is greater, the level of education better and buildings and infrastructure more developed. Maps produced on the block level allow us to draw a dividing line between East and West neighbourhoods within the city of Amman. West Amman extends from Jabal Amman to Khalda and is bordered in the north by Wadi Hadadeh and in the South by Wadi Deir Ghbar. East Amman covers Amman’s historical centre, and more than half of the city with its North and South expansions (fig. IX.36).

Figure IX.36 — Synthetic Map of the Social Disparities in Amman.

Figure IX.36 — Synthetic Map of the Social Disparities in Amman.

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013

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