United for resilience: Mercy Corps’ collaboration with the Civil Defense Directorate in Jordan

Staff members attend a First Aid training.
Civil Defense Directorate conducts First Aid training to support the preparedness of Sweimeh municipality staff.
March 26, 2024

On World Civil Defense Day, in honor of the dedication and efforts of civil defense organizations and their partners in protecting people, homes, and businesses from disasters and emergencies. Mercy Corps’ work in Jordan, where climate hazards pose a serious threat, shows how partnerships with civil defense actors can improve community resilience.

Despite being a water-scarce country, flash flooding is a major concern for people in Jordan. Their increasing frequency and intensity, combined with other climate-related hazards such as heatwaves, have caused significant damage and loss of life and are affecting agricultural lands and livelihoods.

As a member of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, Mercy Corps in Jordan is working closely with local governments and flood-prone communities in Ma’in, Wadi Musa, Sweimeh, and Azraq to support the resilience of vulnerable communities so that they can adapt to climate change. 

Joint action to inform and protect communities

Collaborating with key actors to ensure successful and impactful programming is central to Mercy Corps’ approach. When the Alliance’s program in Jordan began in 2021 with a focus on Disaster Risk Reduction, we worked on cultivating national-level partnerships. We approached the disaster management department in the Civil Defense Directorate (CDD) to align expertise, resources, and efforts. The CDD became a vital strategic partner, offering unwavering support on both national and local fronts.

Working hand in hand with flood-prone communities, we established local committees, comprising leaders and representatives from local authorities, to identify flood resilience gaps and collaboratively design and implement suitable interventions. Involving officials from the CDD in these committees played a key role in this successful partnership; their insights as first responders, and their experiences and challenges faced during disaster response, enriched our understanding and guided our interventions.

Mercy Corps and the CDD have also worked together on the interventions themselves. By providing targeted awareness sessions on first aid, safety procedures, and evacuation plans, as well as essential resources such as first aid kits, the partnership has equipped communities and school students in flood-prone areas with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed for disaster preparedness and response as well as fostering a culture of safety and preparedness. Session participants reported feeling more prepared to confront potential disasters in their communities.

Attending the first aid training has been a very positive experience for me, it has given me a sense of confidence and preparedness, knowing that I have the knowledge to help others in times of need. Knowledge of first aid and preparedness measures is crucial for all municipal employees to enhance our capabilities to deal efficiently with disasters that may affect our community.

Wafa’a Al-Adwan, Head of Development Unit in Sweimeh Municipality

A recent milestone in this partnership was the development of a guidebook titled “Dealing with Emergencies: Preparedness and Prevention Measures.” This essential resource equips community members with the knowledge and tools needed to safeguard their lives from emergencies. From helpful tips on how to prepare before a disaster strikes, to crucial steps to take during and after an emergency, this guidebook is tailored for various types of disasters, including fires, floods, and earthquakes. Through our collaboration with CDD, we were able to distribute 30,000 copies of this invaluable resource to high-risk areas throughout Jordan.

An official ensure preparedness distributing emergency guidebooks in schools.
CDD officials ensure preparedness: Distributing emergency guidebooks in schools.

Reflecting on success and planning for the future

On March 3rd, the Civil Defense Directorate and Mercy Corps celebrated World Civil Defence Day under the theme “Innovative Technologies at the Service of Civil Defense.” The event highlighted successful experiences and innovative initiatives, showcasing modern technology’s role in enhancing community protection. Organized in collaboration with Mercy Corps, the event emphasized the cooperative pathways adopted alongside the Civil Defence Directorate over the past two years.

The country director of mercy corps jordan giving a speech at the world civil defense day celebration.
Photo During Darius, the Country Director of Mercy Corps Jordan speech at the World Civil Defense Day celebration.

The partnership continues; here in Jordan, we are committed to building on the achievements and informing an effective policy environment that strengthens community resilience to climate hazards.

This piece was originally published on the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance blog.

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