INNOVATION AND PLANNING AGENCY IN
ZA'ATARI REFUGEE CAMP
ZA'ATARI, MAFRAQ, JORDANIEN
2013 - 2019
CITY OF AMSTERDAM
MORE THAN SHELTERS
A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
Establishment and operation of an on-site office for the coordination and implementation of innovative planning and development projects, with a strong focus on multi-actor participation.
Development of on-site innovation capacities in partnership with camp management. Introduction of participation bodies and formats. Permanent co-creation with various UN agencies, international and local NGOs.
Implementation of 12 large-scale projects and 27 medium-sized and smaller projects, with a total volume of around € 80 million for 85,000 residents.
At the request of the UNHCR Camp Manager, MTS set up a permanent innovation and planning office in the Za'atari refugee camp within a week, in autumn 2013. At the time, nobody knew that MTS teams would be active in the camp until 2019.
The project is noteworthy because MTS created a role model in the humanitarian context with the world's first innovation agency to be stationed in a camp. More than 30 projects have been developed in this innovation office. Many of them are still changing the lives of residents today and / or have been replicated elsewhere in the world. These include large projects, such as complete waste management with an attached recycling system, or a solar farm for the camp and the region. Many projects are highly innovative, such as water-filtering gardens, or the local production of prostheses for war invalids using 3D printers. Another category of projects focused on empowering single women.
The role of MTS was to design such projects, develop them with partner organizations, and to adapt and consolidate them over the course of the year. The MTS teams cooperated with more than 30 local and international organizations. Furthermore, the direct involvement of the Za'atari residents was essential to these projects. Where resident participation was not previously planned, the MTS teams introduced it.
The entire experience from the projects in Za'atari has led to an overarching understanding of how an "Arrival City" (as an alternative to the refugee camp) can be set up and accompanied in a participatory manner. The development of such an approach is now being discussed and promoted on many levels of the international community. However, this development is far from over, and major systemic changes are still required to achieve a paradigm shift here. For this reason, MTS has accompanied the practical on-site work with publications and lectures, and continues to advocate the new approach of Arrival Cities to ensure a self-determined and dignified life is possible, even in crisis situations.
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