On World Habitat Day, HPC urges equitable development

Jordan’s population increasingly urban

Amman - Ameer
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Higher Population Council (HPC) urged stakeholders to redirect resources toward the Kingdom’s less densely populated governorates and peripheral regions to reverse the current urbanization trends and address development disparities, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.اضافة اعلان

On the occasion of World Habitat Day, on October 3, the council released a statement emphasizing the critical need to address the imbalance in Jordan’s population distribution, and to promote greater equality among the country’s governorates.

It advocated creating more opportunities for college-educated young men and women to find work and start families, as well as for making housing more affordable.

Each year, World Habitat Day focuses attention on the state of human settlements. This year’s theme, “Mind the Gap. Leave No One and No Place Behind”, puts the spotlight on widening inequalities in living conditions across the world.

Achieving spatial, social, and economic equality, including access to affordable housing and basic urban services and infrastructure, was cited by the council as a condition for making the case for equitable development.

Disparities in meeting these requirements, the council warned, pose a serious threat to development outcomes and opportunities for its sustainability, and disrupt the equilibrium of population distribution across the Kingdom’s regions.

A recent HPC study puts Jordan’s urban population at nearly 10 million; the UN predicts that the number will rise to 12 million by mid-2040.

In 2021, 90.3 percent of Jordan’s population lived in urban areas, up from 59 percent in 1979 and 78.2 percent in 2004. The governorates of the capital, Zarqa, and Irbid all had rates above 90 percent, while Ma’an and Karak had the lowest, of 54 percent, and 59 percent respectively.

Reverse migration from governorate centers to “other built-up areas and the countryside” is reflected in 2015 internal migration data. Net migration to other built-up areas reached 13.3 percent and rural areas reached 4.4 percent, with governorate centers suffering the greatest loss, at 14.9 percent.

The large influx of refugees also increased population density in the major urban areas, with 96.4 percent of them living in urban areas. The capital took in 35.2 percent of these refugees, followed by Irbid with 21.8 percent, Zarqa 17.6 percent, and Mafraq 15.2 percent.

HPC was reported by Al-Ghad News as saying that “by mid-2040, our cities and other urban agglomerations will be a testament to the extent to which demographic opportunity has been seized and invested.”

Seizing the opportunity requires “galvanizing national efforts to promote investment in reproductive regulation, reforming the education and training system, promoting economic reforms, and investing in education and health care, in addition to enhancing governance and efficiency in the use of public resources, meeting the needs and aspirations of all, including housing and infrastructure such as clean water and sanitation”, the council said.

Population growth rates and the expansion of urban agglomerations and centers were the reasons population grew, mostly at the expense of the agricultural area.

In addition, the council said, urban areas are attractive, which means a significant loss of the human component in rural areas and a waste of agricultural land, which is supposed to be one of the main components of food security, and economic and social development.

While HPC is aware that no country in the world achieves full equality for all communities, Jordan must respond to inequalities by establishing economic incentives to move urbanization trends and investments to less densely populated governorates, the council stressed.

The HPC’s attention to the 11th sustainable development goal is part of the council’s concern to create a policy and an environment to address population trends in the context of sustainable development in light of many challenges, notably the imbalance in population distribution, the persistent urbanization in Jordan and the constant influx of refugees.

Historically, rural-urban inequality has played a major role in Jordan’s acute urbanization. The average annual income of Jordanian families in urban areas has exceeded the average annual income of rural families by 15.3 percent. Urban families are more likely than rural families to fall into higher segments of well-being; 43.8 percent of urban families are located in the top 50 for well-being, compared with only 9.3 percent of the rural population.

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