Applying the gold standard of research to innovative programming in a refugee context

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In 2017, the International Rescue Committee approached one of the biggest problems facing the more than 650,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan: the inability to find employment and generate a sustainable livelihood while waiting to return to their homes.

The Government of Jordan has shown, and continues to show, great support for the refugees it hosts, and international aid agencies have developed truly creative approaches to the problem. One of the most visible new solutions has been the Jordan Compact of 2016, which was meant to increase formal employment for Syrians and Jordanians, but has had only partial success.

The Compact was notable for putting Syrian refugee employment at the forefront of the humanitarian response agenda, but IRC’s goal has been to go further and to identify the persistent challenges that were hamstringing efforts to improve employment outcomes and to develop creative solutions through consistent and controlled trials, innovation — and failure. Over the course of two years, 8,000 job seekers, 200 employers, and more than 1,000 successful job placements, we at Project Match learned a lot about employment in Jordan, the limits of policy change, and the promise of technology and human-centered design. Most importantly, we learned what “innovation” looks like on the ground. Here are some of the expected and unexpected lessons we took away from that experience. …

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A preview into the challenges of the Jordan Compact and how the IRC is addressing them

The Syrian conflict has resulted in one of the world’s largest displacement crises. Over 5 million people have fled Syria since 2011 and settled in neighboring countries. Jordan has taken on a leading role by hosting some 660,000 registered refugees and upwards of 1.3 million by some estimates.

After eight years, the challenges associated with protracted displacement continue to grow. Refugees’ savings and assets are nearing exhaustion, opportunities for formal employment are extremely limited, and there is no clear pathway for return to their homes. …


Anthony Pusatory

I’m a project manager for the International Rescue Committee currently based in Amman, Jordan. Views expressed are personal and not those of IRC.

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