April 25, 2019

The Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan (CSS) and the German Development Institute/ Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) announced today the findings of the study on “Community effects of Cash-for-Work programmes in Jordan – Effects on host communities’ local development, gender roles and social cohesion”.


The preliminary findings of the study show that there are no strong impacts of CfW programmes on the local economic development in the studied communities. However, participants spend their income locally. Increased business activities and an investment effect are thus traceable only to some extent, as people in need satisfy their basic needs first of all. These include housing (rent, electricity and water), food, and household equipment.


Cash-for-Work programmes (CfW) are social transfers providing jobs to poor households and individuals at relatively low wages. CfW programmes in Jordan are intended to ease the financial stress of Syrian refugees and vulnerable parts of the Jordanian population, to improve the social standing of these groups and to strengthen social cohesion between them. Core areas of CfW activities in Jordan include the collection and recycling of waste, the rehabilitation and development of infrastructure such as road construction and school rehabilitation, as well as the protection of water reservoirs. 


The study was done over two months (February- April) by the German Development Institute (DIE) in partnership with the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan by a team of researchers from collected primary data through qualitative semi-structured interviews with experts and members of important stakeholder groups: CfW participants (Jordanian and Syrian nationals), community members, municipal authorities, local experts and representatives of the implementing agencies in several research sites in Jordan.


The leading question of this research was: To what degree and how have social cohesion and economic opportunities – in particular for women – changed within host communities due to CfW programmes?


With regard to social cohesion, the findings show that CfW programmes impact directly on the participants' sense of belonging to their place of residence as well as on trust between Syrian and Jordanian participants, but not on the wider community.


A common statement that arises from the interviews is that the relations were good before the programmes, but the fact of spending eight hours together at work and having different opportunities to exchange intensified the relationships significantly. Several times, participants point out that prior to the programmes, they did not enjoy strong interactions with Syrians, despite the fact that they share many values, customs and traditions. The joint activity made them connect and led to increased daily-life interaction, also beyond the programme – the relationships seem to stay.



Getting to know each other is something rare in the context of the economic hardship of many interviewees, who say that it has become difficult to accept invitations for weddings, funerals, etc. as the cost for gifts are exceeding their household’s budgets. Syrians from our sample report some isolated incidents of discrimination: sometimes they are blamed for the price increase and competition for jobs.


A gendered analysis of the study indicates that the CfW programmes contributed to a change in the perception of female labour force participation in several studied communities. 


The German Development Institute is one of the leading think tanks for global development and international cooperation world-wide. It is located in the UN City of Bonn, Germany. DIE is building bridges between theory and practice and its research is theory-based, empirically driven and application-oriented. Since its founding in 1964, DIE has based its work on the interplay between research, policy advice and training.

The research partner for this study is the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) at the University of Jordan. CSS was established in 1984 at the University of Jordan. CSS ranked the top Think Tank in the Middle East and North Africa for the third year in a row. The Center is active in the fields of regional conflict, international relations, security, democracy, political pluralism, development, and the environment.

To read the full preliminary findings of the study, please download the file above.