Jordan’s charities struggle to meet demand

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AMMAN — The pandemic has imposed extensive challenges for businesses in Jordan, including charitable organizations, while simultaneously creating more demand for social needs, according to local officials. اضافة اعلان

Ayman Mufleh, the minister of social development, told Jordan News during an interview that COVID-19  — and the subsequent safety measures imposed to contain the pandemic — affected all charitable organizations by affecting their flexibility of movement and sources of income.

He said that the virus caused economic damage to all sectors, and decreased the number of grants that would usually flow to charities from companies, charitable trusts, and major donors.

“COVID-19 created unlimited social problems that are larger than one individual or group (can) tackle,” Mufleh said. “The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic caused many donors to reduce or even stop their support, which consequently affected the work and support the local charitable organizations do.”

According to the minister, 6,522 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were registered in the Kingdom as of December 2020, 3,952 of which were affiliated with the ministry. 

Mufleh said that these times demand different measures to meet the current social needs. He called for charitable organizations to be creative in finding new methods of sustainability, such as building sustainable marketing and development programs.

According to its website, the Ministry of Social Development strives to enhance developmental social work and to carry out social policy development through comprehensive and integrated community development with a purpose to improve the quality of life of its citizens. 

Among the programs created by the ministry to meet the urgent demand caused by the pandemic is Takaful (which means “solidarity” in Arabic), a financial funding program, created to support almost 100,000 families during the COVID-19 crisis. So far, Takaful has benefited some 250,000 families in Jordan. 

But while Takaful began, other charities were forced to minimize or even close their programs.

Firas Maghareez Abbadi, the founder of Bader Charity Center for Relief and Development, told Jordan News that ever since the NGO was established in 2014, its work has focused on the needy sectors of society, especially in marginalized areas around the Kingdom.

“We did an excellent job assisting the society until the pandemic spread,” Abbadi said.  “Everything changed so quickly.”

He said that charities across the country are facing huge economic pressure, with many closed and others barely surviving.

“COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the charity sector in Jordan. So far, our charitable organization survived and is trying to adapt to the decrease in funding,” he said.  “Our work is now limited to providing parcels of food to selective families paying for our own account.”

The role of NGOs is to support the Ministry of Social Development in a way that will benefit the community at large, said Samer Balkar, general director of Tkiyet Um Ali (TUA).

TUA provides and delivers hot meals to passers-by and at its premises and provides humanitarian food aid to the underprivileged in Jordan.

Balkar said that the sustainability of any organization’s work relies on different channels of funding, resilience, corporate governance, and the credibility of the donors. He added that the clarity of a charity’s vision and maintaining an unwavering focus on the influence the organization can make in society is also important.

Around 30 percent of TUA’s financial support comes from international and corporate funds, while the majority of the NGO’s funds comes from the society itself through grassroots fundraising, according to Balkar.

“During COVID-19 the social support was high. People want to help each other through TUA, and we were ready,” he said. “Our staff had their permit to move freely to provide food parcels, hygiene kits, and financial assistance to all the Kingdom during the lockdown.”

Balkar said that more needs to be done for NGOs in Jordan, mainly to organize the purpose of establishing an NGO, according to societies’ needs, and to create a clear and structured plan to channel funds to those most in need.

“Another important future step is the collaborative work and partnerships across private and public sectors, with the ministry taking a supervision role,” he said. “That way we might have the potential to contribute to systemic change and greater societal impact.”