Effects of Cash-for-Work-Programs for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

The PGC research team looks at different long- and short-term effects of cash-for-work (CfW) programs in Jordan in terms of social protection, economic inclusion, development of public infrastructure and social cohesion between Syrian refugees and their host communities. It aims to identify best practices and conditions under which CfW programs can be applied to contexts of flight and migration or post-conflict reconstruction.

Project Team:

Jörn Fritzenkötter (Political Science)
Verena Gantner (Economics)
Regina Kaltenbach (Social Science)
Lena Pohl (Political Sciene)
Mirko von Stosch (Political Science)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Time frame:
2018 - 2019 / completed

Co-operation Partner:

Jordan Center for Strategic Studies (CSS)

Project description

Cash-for-Work (CfW) programs gained immense interest and relevance over the past years, as tools fostering social protection and labour as well as developing public infrastructure. They are increasingly implemented in contexts of civil war, reconstruction, or forced migration. This is also the case in Syria’s neighbouring countries, where CfW aim to improve the situation of about 5 million Syrian refugees and their hosting communities. Especially in Jordan, many donors utilize CfW programs to facilitate refugees’ labour market access as stipulated by the Jordan Compact (agreed on 2016 at the London conference). Yet, the topic is delicate, as Jordan fights massive un- and underemployment since long, well before the influx of Syrian refugees.

The research team seeks to find out about different long- and short-term effects of CfW programs in Jordan. It also asks how unintended side effects could be minimized. The following questions will be examined in more detail:

  • To what extent have CfW programs affected multidimensional poverty and refugees’ and host communities’ vulnerability? In what way have CfW programs thus contributed to social inclusion?
  • How and how much have CfW programs influenced mid- to long-term potentials of refugees and host communities (e.g. by providing vocational qualifications and incentives for savings and investments, or by awareness raising)?
  • In what positive or negative way have they affected social relationships among and between the groups of persons involved in CfW programs (refugees and host community members) as well as between the persons involved and broader Jordanian society or regional actors? Have CfW programs thus contributed to social cohesion and stability within the host society?
  • Are CfW programs thus apt tools in the context of flight and migration? How could and should CfW be adapted to serve this context better?


Data will be collected (1) via interviews with representatives of donors; state institutions on communal, provincial and national levels; civil society and academia; as well as (2) via interviews and focus group discussions with (a) Syrian refugees and Jordanians who are or were employed in CfW programs, and (b) community members and all those affected by the CfW.


Social protection and social cohesion