Jordan · Middle East · USA

Do Americans know about the USAID?

I know almost nothing about the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). From Wikipedia it seems it is a federal government agency, not a private agency. I know they build schools and help finance some water-related and other projects here in Jordan. Of course as anything foreign the USAID is not short of controversy over the agency’s goals.

Since I only know that they do good things I have to state that I am thankful and appreciative of their good deeds. Especially, since their logo states that their donations are “from the American people.” This means that they get their money from the taxes. Why else would they say “from the American people”, right?

One of their projects in Irbid, Jordan is placing big recycle bins in a neighborhood. In one neighborhood in West of Irbid city I saw these recycle bins scattered properly almost everywhere. The bins are big enough with excellent instructions. I can understand the motive behind this project; introducing recycling to the Jordanians. I love it. Who wouldn’t love to be green?

But, if you know anything about Irbid you know the last thing we need in this city is recycling bins. This is like donating ski gear to the homeless. I don’t want to belittle the USAID work but seriously what they were thinking?

All the recycle bins ended up being used as a garbage container for the neighborhood, like the one below.

2014-10-12 17.32.59

I laughed a lot when I saw this recycle bin because it is a reminder how much the US government sometimes feels like they know nothing about the Middle East. 

Irbid city is poor and overpopulated. The municipality can barely handles cleaning the streets because they are overwhelmed by the amount of trash. Also, I don’t like saying it but I have to since this issue plays a major role why our streets are always dirty and these recycling bins are the least of our concerns. Unfortunately, Jordanians don’t treat public places as their homes. It is very common here to see people throw trash on streets. 

If you are an American, did you hear of the USAID before? What do you think of this failed recycling project?

p.s. Maybe I should mention that introducing recycling in Jordan is a noble cause but it is too early for it in the time being.

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4 thoughts on “Do Americans know about the USAID?

  1. Talking politics, r we? 😀
    But seriously, such efforts are appreciated but this example just shows that the “process” of choosing a project/idea is ill-informed to the priorities needed by communities.

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  2. Sooo interesting! Why do you think people there don’t take pride in their streets? I really hate to blame it on poverty because it seems you can be poor, but clean and classy (sorry…can’t think of the right word!), but it does seem often people associate the poor with being dirty. Think poor white trash in the South. But can’t poor people be neat and clean AND take pride in their houses and streets and the planet? What do you think?

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    1. Yes, you are right you can be poor and classy. I think I was wrong associating poor with dirty.
      “can’t poor people be neat and clean AND take pride in their houses and streets and the planet?”
      There are many factors here, I think.
      I want to state here that most Jordanians take pride in the cleanness of their homes. In few foreign NGO workers’ blogs that I read they even wrote how they were puzzled that Jordanians’ houses were treated completely different than the public places. That is, why Jordanians keep their houses very clean yet they don’t find difficulty in trashing public places.

      Here are some reasons that I think might be behind this attitude:
      1) Public places are maintained by the government. Citizens don’t like the government. It is not as is you don’t like the government for a couple of years, here it is decades of hatred toward the government.
      2) long years of corruption in the municipality and lack of efficiency lead people to care less about their streets.
      3) Although there are strict laws against littering but they are not enforced.
      4) Most people here want to leave the country for a better life style. People here unfortunately don’t take pride of their country.
      5) Lack of interest by the government to educate people about the importance of clean streets.
      6) The continuous influx of immigrants (even way before the Syrians) put a stress on the citizens and the government.

      I wish there are more Jordanians who read this blog to share their opinion on the subject. I am sure there are more reasons.

      I want to mention that Jordanians overseas litter. I know this because I lived in Kuwait and the USA. So, maybe the main reason for this littering thing in Jordan is people fade up of their country. They don’t like it any more. Think of a teenager in a very boring small town in America who wants to escape to the big city.

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