Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

The refugee camp Za’atari is an area in transition. Within three years it has developed to one of the biggest refugee camps in the world.


in Jordan

Since early 2013, MORE THAN SHELTERS has been involved in several on-site projects in the refugee camp of Za’atari in Northern Jordan – now a temporary home for more than 80.000 people. We connect interdisciplinary actors and projects and facilitate the development of pioneering out-of-the-box solutions. More of our projects and activities below.

Project Overview


Upcycling Workshops for single-mothers

MORE THAN SHELTERS works since two years with single mothers in Za´atari refugee camp. In partnership with Oxfam we conduct workshops where the women learn to produce handicraft objects out of available materials in the camp. In those so called up-cycling workshops we provide trainings and design sessions in order to develop marketable products with the goal to generate income for the women groups through sales on local markets.



Inclusive business report

MTS was holding a scoping mission in Jordan to assess existing networks, projects and solutions in the field of inclusive business for refugees. The outcome was an analysis of current solutions in various cities to detect the perfect entry point for GIZ to start an inclusive business strategy. In a second module of the project, the outcome lead to a definition of prototypes of inclusive business projects and their implementation.

MTS was researching formal and informal approaches within the refugee context in Jordan to find new, bottom-up and community-driven solutions for the challenge of daily economic survival of refugee communities. In a non-traditional approach, various stakeholders were interviewed to detect the most innovative ideas.

All findings were translated into a comprehensive report of the inclusive business sector in Jordan and a newly designed presentation format.



Urban Farming Initiative

MORE THAN SHELTERS developed a concept for an urban farming initiative. The goal of the initiative is to use urban farming as a motor for development at different levels. As a grid solution it tackles different problems at the same time and promotes holistic improvement. Through various connections to international agricultural experts the most appropriate and resource saving techniques can be developed. Capacity building is one of the most important aspects of the initiative, which enables people to further develop and scale up the project according to their own need and initiative.

The foreseen outcomes of the project would be food production, creation of job opportunities, healthier environment and raised ecological awareness.


3D-printed prosthetics and Za’atari Fab Lab

Right from the beginning MORE THAN SHELTERS accompanied and facilitated the project from Refugee Open Ware (ROW) to develop 3D-printed prostheses and open a fab lab as technical workshop. MORE THAN SHELTERS contributed above all the expertise in social design processes and community engagement. The objective of the project is to build a globally scalable program that gathers evidence and diffuses innovation in three ways:

Open-source 3D-designs, which are used for the prosthetics are published online and are downloadable for free.

Thanks to Ultimaker three open-source 3D-printers have been sent to Jordan.

Free online training videos and instructions will be provided in multiple languages.


Innovation and planning agency

In this project, MTS developed and ran an on-site innovation and planning agency (IPA) in the Zaatari refugee camp for, and together with, the UNHCR. The IPA‘s purpose is to invent, test and scale innovative-integrated approaches in all response sectors in the camp. An integrated masterplan for the camp was enriched with ongoing project developement. A cross-sectorial project catalogue was developed with over 30 humanitarian innovations.

MTS pioneered with the concept of a permanent innovation and planning cluster in emergency settings, developing and co-designing it with UNHCR camp management. We believe that to fulfill the people‘s needs for sustainable and dignified habitats, flexible and self-learning management structures are necessary to respond to the world´s current complexities. Methods and tools such as design thinking and on-site product innovation, as well as a cross-sectorial multi-stakeholder collaboration model, were implemented to enable large-scale response scenarios.