Green rooftops from UNICEF combat poverty, unemployment in Jerash

In spite of the high poverty rate in Jerash camp, its rooftops hide pockets of hope and economic growth. Locally known as Gaza camp, it's home to approximately 25,000 Palestinian refugees. UNHCR states that it is the poorest of the 10 official Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, with an unofficial unemployment rate of 39 per cent for men, and 81 per cent for women.

Green rooftops from UNICEF combat poverty, unemployment in Jerash

The rooftops of many camps are home to hydroponic gardens. Under the UNICEF-supported Sennara green roofing project, each rooftop is owned and managed by two women or youth. The idea behind Sennara originated with Palestinian refugee Mohammad Syam, who centered the project around the saying: "If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day.". If you teach him to fish, he will eat for a year."

According to UNICEF Jordan Representative Tanya Chapuisat, the project works towards creating sustainable employment opportunities for young people and women in Jerash camp. On the camp's rooftops, beneficiaries learn how to grow crops, which are then sold, with 75 per cent of profits going directly to the families, and 25 per cent supporting the project.

UNICEF-sponsored training and seed funding are provided for those involved in the project to learn new skills, strengthen their food security, and become more self-sufficient while developing their own businesses, Chapuisat said.

Because of the strict regulations defining which sectors camp residents are allowed to work in, finding sustainable employment seems impossible for them. This challenge is compounded for women and young people due to several economic and social factors, such as the social restrictions imposed on women's work in the camp community.