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Jordan marks International Youth Day

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(Photo: Wikimedia)

AMMAN — On Thursday, Jordan celebrated International Youth Day under the slogan, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovations for Human and Planet Health,” according to Al-Ghad news. اضافة اعلان

This year, International Youth Day sheds light on young innovators’ solutions to challenges facing food systems, and the need for young people to make informed decisions about available food choices, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With the United Nations projecting an alarming increase in the world’s population over the next 30 years, International Youth Day encourages young people in Jordan and around the world to participate in decisions that will affect their future and calls for the empowering of the next generation of agricultural producers. 

Abla Amawi, secretary-general of the higher population council, said in a press statement on International Youth Day that Jordan is a middle-income country, with an estimated population of 10,961,607 million. And according to Jordan’s food security update released by the United Nations in August 2020, Jordan suffers from food resource insufficiency, limited energy resources, and a scarce water supply.

Jordan’s level of food insecurity is estimated at 53 percent, with more than 15 percent of the population living below the poverty line and a third of the population being considered underprivileged. According to data released by the Department of Statistics, Jordan’s unemployment rate hit 25 percent during the first quarter of 2021, witnessing an increase of 5.7 percent. 

Unemployment rates were exacerbated during the pandemic due job losses, the closure and bankruptcy of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the halting of several sectors across the Kingdom, which led to an increase in food insecurity levels, according to Amawi. 

Amawi contended that, in addition to this, Jordan is bearing the brunt of hosting 650,000 Syrians and 90,000 refugees of other nationalities, 67 percent of whom have experienced food insecurity.  

She pointed out that this goes in line with reports on the impact of COVID-19 on refugees in Jordan, conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO found that 95 percent of Syrian refugee families reported a decrease in household income, compared to 90 percent of Jordanian families. Additionally, the number of people in Jordan suffering from undernourishment has reached 300,000 between 2004 and 2006, and reached 1 million between 2018 and 2020. 

Amawi added that young people in Jordan face several challenges that prevent their contribution to the Kingdom’s development, including high rates of youth unemployment, child marriage, inequality in education, gender-based violence, child labor, and the lack of appropriate sexual and reproductive care services for females. And despite national efforts to achieve gender equality, gender inequality still exists on economic and political levels. For example, female participation in the labor market is at 14 percent, while male participation is at 54.8 percent.

Amawi stated that the COVID-19 pandemic also brought more challenges for women in Jordan, causing job losses, threatening households headed by women, and hindering access to quality food.

The Higher Population Council underscored the importance of developing long- and short-term policies to mitigate the severity of the pandemic, including increasing development investments in the agricultural sector, organizing temporary social protection programs, and strengthening safety net programs by distributing food in a safe and dignified manner to vulnerable groups, among others.

The council added that despite the challenges facing Jordan’s youth during COVID-19, young people in Jordan continue to bring about positive changes in their communities, including addressing the dissemination of misleading news about the pandemic and delivering food parcels to underprivileged families and marginalized areas.