ADVANCING ADOLESCENTS: Evidence on the Impact of Psychosocial Support for Syrian Refugee and Jordanian Adolescents

Mercy Corps
Publication Date: 
Nov, 2016

Jordan is hosting one of the largest populations of Syrians in the region – more than 650,000 people, of which 28% are between the ages of 11 and 25. This refugee population faces severe challenges. A staggering 93% of refugees living outside the camps are under the Jordanian poverty line. Most are living in host communities absent strong family and social networks. Syrians also face tensions with Jordanians in host communities that are competing for scarce resources ranging from access to water, jobs and education. As is the case in the majority of crises, young people are disproportionately affected by the fallouts. Only 5% of Syrian adolescent refugees are registered in formal secondary education, stymying their prospects for safe and equitable employment and their ability to support themselves and their families. Against this backdrop, resources for psychosocial support programs are particularly scarce, with the percentage of programming addressing this issue in Jordan just over 1% of the total joint UN appeal for the country in 2016.

All of these factors are jointly contributing to two related sets of consequences:
  •  A lost generation of youth: The widespread deprivation and prolonged stress amongst Syrian adolescents living in Jordan contributes to the deterioration of their well-being and human capital, resulting in mental health issues and increased incidences of high risk behavior. This severely curtails their prospects for future development. In neighboring Lebanon, a staggering 41% of Syrian refugee youth report having suicidal urges. Rapid action is needed to avoid a similar trend in Jordan and capitalize on the immense potential adolescents represent.
  • Social instability: Isolation and hopelessness, combined with experiences of violence and injustice, is pervasive among Syrian adolescents in Jordan. This is a dangerous recipe for producing violent attitudes and actions. Without positive social connections and prospects for their future, young people affected by conflict and displacement may become a destabilizing force for their communities and the region.
Humanitarian and development actors are recognizing the need to provide targeted support to young people in Jordan and the region to tap into their ambition and potential, and mitigate negative individual and societal impacts. However, little credible evidence exists on which to base the design of such interventions aimed at ensuring adolescents’ safety, social ties, and emotional well-being. To fill this evidence gap, Mercy Corps undertook a rigorous impact evaluation of its Advancing Adolescents program in Jordan, which is designed to “strengthen the resilience of host community and Syrian refugee young people through equitable access to
psychosocial support, protection and informal learning opportunities.”
The Advancing Adolescents program had positive impacts on Syrian and Jordanian adolescents’:
  • Social networks, including trust between Syrians and Jordanians;
  • Perceptions of safety and protection in their communities; and
  • Confidence in their future, including employment prospects.

Read the full report here.

Soft Skills
Middle East & North Africa
Conflict Area