HERITAGE ARTS AND CRAFTS AS A SOURCE OF RESILIENCE IN MAFRAQ

 

Life has always been challenging for the people of Mafraq but, since the Syria crisis began, day-to-day life has gotten tougher for the Bedouin families from the northern governorates. 

“In the past months, I started making some income and I hope that this work will help me in supporting my husband and family” says Umm Sultan, a 52 years old trainee with 6 children from Um el Jimal, Mafraq. 

Umm el Jimal is a unique archaeological site included on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Joint UNESCO and UN Women programme entitles ‘Empowering rural women in Mafraq Governorate’, builds on this potential, intertwining culture and women’s empowerment as a source of resilience. The initiative supports the creation of a range of cultural tourism services on site, including handicrafts production, hospitality services and heritage information and education activities. The goal is to encourage tourism and bring much needed income to the local community.


Umm Sultan, together with 20 other women is producing Basalt objects carved from the native stone of the Haurani Plateau using traditional techniques. The first item she learned to carve was a half-moon shape, and she quickly discovered she had a natural talent for the finicky work. “I was so happy when I finished it. Then I started making all kinds of shapes and accessories.” 

The project has also strengthened women’s involvement in their community through an activity that they very much enjoy: “I like carving Basalt very much because it’s a beautiful and unique art and craft”.

The programme has raised engagement among the communities on the value and potential of the Um el Jimal archaeological site. Umm Sultan is now aware of the importance of the site and wants to use this local heritage for the benefit of her community: “I believe we can present our culture and heritage better, therefore, we believe that Um el Jimal can receive and welcome many tourists to learn more about our history”.

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Sector: Livelihoods and Food Security
Project Name: PHASE II-Empowering rural women in Mafraq Governorate through the management and preservation of the Umm el-Jimal’s archaeological site in Jordan as income-generating activities
JRP Specific Objective: RES 2: The local economies of the most-affected areas revived for sustainable employment and income generation
JRP Project Title: RES 2.1 Support establishment and growth of sustainable micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) targeting vulnerable Jordanian households
Total Financing: USD 482,486
Project duration: 30 months
Financing Agency: Government of the Netherlands
Implementing Partner: UNESCO and UN Women