At the beginning of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the spread of a new virus from the coronary family called COVID-19 or what also known as the new Corona virus that started from the Chinese city (Wuhan).
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was among the first countries to take early precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. The government has announced the act of defense, curfews, block gatherings, and close all governmental and private activities, in addition to the borders and quarantine those coming from abroad in qualified hotels inside Amman and in the Dead Sea area. It has formed a crisis management cell and has taken a package of measures that have made it easier for citizens to have their needs without gatherings and in easy ways to maintain their safety; These government measures, which are unique in the world, are considered the reason of the decline in the number of cases in Jordan and prevent the spread of the epidemic until the moment.
The city of Amman is the political and economic capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the political and administrative center of the Jordanian government and home to 40% of the country's population, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and has a rich healing heritage; the city of Amman is a site of peace, coexistence and a multi-cultural environment in the Arab world, and is a major investment center in the Middle East.
The Great Amman Municipality seeks to preserve the city's cultural and physical identity and to develop its communities through optimal resource planning and investment while building partnerships with the relevant parties, and working to define the inner values of the Municipality (learning, knowledge exchange, fairness, justice, transparency, teamwork, faith in change, continuous improvement, and creativity).
Amman, like the rest cities in the world, has been exposed to a threat that threatens the lives of millions. Accordingly, the Greater Amman Municipality provided all measures and operational support to the National Crisis Management Cell to limit the spread of the virus and contain the pandemic properly at the city level, and to ensure the continuity of life for its citizens during the mandatory quarantine. The Amman Municipality took proactive steps in late February 2020 and before announcing the first case of infection in the Kingdom, as the Amman Municipality took preventive and precautionary measures to confront the Corona virus within its district directorates and departments, and the nation's workers in the field.
These measures included distribution of masks and gloves to the workers of the country, as well as obligating traders in the slaughterhouse department to wear masks before entering the slaughterhouse. In addition to providing the Municipality buildings at the guidance offices, serving the public, and fingerprint devices with hand sanitizers, and distribution of sterilizer for surfaces and floors in the departments and areas of the Municipality; and using of specialized sterilizers for health departments such as slaughterhouses and health and professional control. As well as, the districts and departments of the Municipality held a series of awareness workshops to prevent Corona virus; in addition to launching many community initiatives and engaging the local community with initiatives and competitions such as the “Stay at Home Initiative”, in which many children participated from their homes carrying messages to the local community inviting them to stay at home; the initiative of "Discovering Children's Talents", the "Sports from Home" initiative and many other community initiatives.
Awareness-raising messages and videos were also published and “brochures” were posted on the Municipality’s website; a street sterilizer was also built and a sterilizer was made for the environment mechanisms and riding vehicles.
In addition to its role as a local administration within its borders, the Greater Amman Municipality has taken all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic by developing a plan that includes the continuity of providing vital services to citizens by taking the necessary measures to secure its staff working in it with preventive health and safety requirements against the epidemic and the continuation of cleaning work. As well as treatment of waste and maintenance within the borders of Greater Amman Municipality, and spraying cleaning, disinfection and sterilization materials in places of human gatherings (parks, public facilities) and their public and popular markets., in addition to monitoring livestock before slaughtering, taking preventive measures in their slaughterhouses, preparing cemeteries for burying the dead in coordination with the responsible authorities. Employees were also activated to work from home, using communication technology and remote meeting, and providing many services electronically.
The Greater Amman Municipality has worked to develop many modern urban strategies as a basis for making decisions and to use contemporary urban tools from international models to deal with the various shocks and challenges facing today's cities, which mainly result from the accelerated housing growth and the challenges of climate change. The Municipality of Amman is keen on effective partnership with individuals, companies, institutions, civil society organizations and international organizations to look into problems and explore opportunities, as the city of Amman had joined before the Covid-19 pandemic, to the 100 RC network (One Hundred Resilient Cities) to learn the best contemporary urban practices to achieve many achievements in the city.
The Municipality also launched the Amman Plan to confront the effects of climate change, and the Municipality of Amman is carrying out as part of the global and national systems of its responsibilities towards this global threat. It stands alongside the rest of the world’s cities to reduce carbon emissions through policies and projects that achieve sustainable practices and enhance the city's resilience.
Prior to the pandemic, the Municipality of Amman signed an agreement to launch the roadmap project for a smart city for Amman, since the smart city project is the optimal use of resources in an efficient manner, especially in relation to the communications and information technology sector by employing them to deal with the challenges facing the city. Where the cities that are considered smart cities have proven that they are able to recover and face this crisis better and faster than other cities.
The Amman Municipality used this exceptional circumstance positively to implement projects concerned with traffic improvements and completion of infrastructure packages for the Bus rapid transit (BRT); in addition, emergency services were provided to support the refugees living in Amman through partnerships with international organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IRC), where during the period of the comprehensive ban in Amman due to the Corona pandemic, they reached needy and affected families of refugees, distributed sums of money to them, and distributed safety and sterilization parcels to families in poor areas. In Amman, these services are expanding at the present time to help families deal with difficult economic conditions through organizations that work with the Municipality, such as the German Agency for Development (GIZ). As well as, the work continues on the Syrian Crisis Response Project funded by EBRD, which aims to improve infrastructure, especially in the waste management sector, to be able to cover the increasing needs that have arisen from the increase in population and the influx of Syrian refugees.
Jordan is a regional center that has the ability to transform shocks and crises into opportunities, as its capital, Amman, seeks to be a resilient city capable of confronting and adapting to various circumstances and changes, and today we aim to deepen our understanding of civilian life, through our review of safety and containment strategies within an urban planning system based on scientific and contemporary foundations, which guarantee its residents a better level in civil life, and work to revitalize its various sectors in the long run, and to guarantee the right of access to the city for all.
The city of Amman, like other similar cities, needs to reconsider its strategic plans and urban plans, and from here the need arose to document and display the city's status and resilience during the crisis, and to show the effectiveness of the institutional performance of the Greater Amman Municipality. In order to create a scientific model for managing crises and natural disasters based on real urban indicators during the confrontation with the emerging Corona virus and to establish a sound planning base to make our city more resilient , healthy, and safe city.
Dr. Yousef Al Shawarbeh