JORDAN / ZAATARI CAMP Background Information

The Syrian crisis is now in its 8th year. With the arrival of close to 1 million Syrian refugees, Jordan has been consumed with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, which has strained local dynamics and overwhelmed public services and state financial resources.

The promotion of livelihoods resulting into economic activities has been therefore crucial for boosting social cohesion and economic stability. Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan has become home to nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees. After years of displacement, refugee women still have very few work opportunities.


MORE THAN SHELTERS has been active in Jordan since 2012. We have developed the concept of innovation incubators in refugee contexts and established a great local network and partnerships in the humanitarian sector. Through the implementation of refugee-led incubators we want to exploit neglected talents amongst the affected population and support them to design their own future.


in Jordan


There are only few (and mainly NGO-subsidized) employment opportunities for refugees in Zaatari Refugee Camp. One fifth of all refugee households are led by single mothers, two-thirds of whom have no steady income.

Bags for Life (Lel-Haya in Arabic) project in Za’atari Camp was initiated in 2017 and since then has offered support to the most disadvantaged women in the camp by helping them generate income in a sustainable and dignified way. Together with Oxfam, we have helped women learn how to handcraft bags from used UNHCR tents. The result is a fashionable and practical accessory that tells a true story of hardship but also of great courage and hope. And most of all, it has secured long-term income for the neediest families. Furthermore, the project’s upcycling workshops have taught women useful job skills and thus improved their prospects for the future significantly. Over 300 women were involved in the project by the end of 2018. As of 2019 the project activities are autonomously continued by Oxfam and women’s initiatives in the camp.

We are currently looking to replicate the success of the project in other refugee camps.