2019 Jordan: Evaluation of WASH services in camps and host communities

International Solutions Group
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Publication Year:
May 11, 2020
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


In March 2012, when a relatively small number of Syrians were fleeing the civil war into Jordan, UNICEF responded by setting up Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) services and facilities at border crossings, called transit centers. The initial numbers of refugees were in the thousands rather than the much higher numbers that UNCHR was predicting, and some members of the international press described the international community’s response and predictions of a massive refugee influx alarmist and misleading (Seely, 2012). By August UNICEF’s and UNHCR’s preparations paid off. One thousand refugees per week crossing the border quickly became over 10,000 per week (UNHCR, 2012). Some refugees found sponsorship and entered host communities, where they had access to household and government WASH services. Others, unable to return home and without other options, entered the Za’atari refugee camp that opened on 30 July 2012. By December, over 66,000 refugees were living in the camp (UNICEF, December 2012). In July 2012, UNICEF was the only organization in Jordan that had the resources, capacity, and institutional commitment to take leadership of the WASH response related to the Syrian refugee crisis. UNICEF accepted responsibility for providing WASH services in a country that was exhausted by previous refugee crises, water scarcity, a complex political environment, and funding uncertainty. From July 2012 through July 2017, UNICEF provided life-saving water and sanitation resources under these difficult conditions for approximately 400,0001 . The programme that UNICEF developed as its WASH response to the crisis was to become one of the largest programmes in UNICEF Jordan’s portfolio. The scope of the programme was initially a mandate to provide services to refugees in camps. It expanded to include services for water-deprived Jordanian host communities that were resource constrained before the crisis and were further burdened by the crisis. The WASH programme’s scope also grew to provide urgent WASH services for refugees living in the border settlements at Hadalat and Rukban. The emergency response required quick and flexible decision making and efficient utilization of scarce resources, which UNICEF successfully performed. The WASH programme was not without missteps or shortcoming, which the evaluation team discusses in the full report. Overall however, the programme provided an effective response in line with its core mission, providing life-saving WASH services in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. It has also increased efficiency and worked to ensure coverage of vulnerable populations. Two difficult achievements in a dynamic and complex environment.




The purpose of this evaluation was to assess the degree to which UNICEF’s WASH programme had achieved its intended results from its beginning in July 2012 through July 2017.  The audience for the evaluation is current programme stakeholders, and future WASH programme implementers that may benefit from its lessons learned.  The evaluation’s objective was to independently assess the degree to which the WASH programme’s design and implementation was relevant, effective, efficient, and will lead to some definition of programme sustainability. The evaluation also sought to discover if the programme had covered all relevant populations, especially the most vulnerable, and the degree to which the programme coordinated well with other similar initiatives and government strategy.  UNICEF excluded the impact criterion from the evaluation’s scope, stating that “due to the relatively short time period since the start of the interventions.

This evaluation covers WASH programme activities from July 2012 to July 2017. Geographically, it covers programming in four camps (Za’atari, Azraq, Cyber City, and King Abdullah Park), host communities, informal tented settlements, and   Rukban and Hadalat, the settlements on the Syrian/Jordanian border. It also covers refugees and Jordanians living in host communities with high numbers of refugees.



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