Young Jordanians innovate to fight food insecurity |

Jordanians face multiple, overlapping challenges, including slow economic growth, high youth unemployment, water scarcity and rising cost of living.

With 63% of its population under the age of 30, Jordan has one of the youngest populations in the world, and youth engagement and mobilization are key to finding solutions to food insecurity.

This is why the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) launched the Youth Innovation in Food Security program, which saw a group of young Jordanians, aged 18-26, pitch a wide range of ideas, from solving the solid waste problem to recycling fruit and vegetable peelings.

As part of the project, participants received training on the implications of food insecurity, the opportunities and challenges directly related to food security, the role of technology in shaping the future of food, and strategies change in the traditional food chain.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso

Aya Kraik, participant in a WFP/UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

Revive the ground

Aya Kreik, an architecture student in Amman, is one of these young innovators. Ms. Kreik and her team have succeeded in converting agricultural waste into nutrient-rich organic fertilizers, reviving the soil and encouraging farmers to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers.

“My innovation idea aims to increase plant immunity to disease and help the soil retain water to a large extent, which reduces the amount of irrigation water needed. A modern method of waste treatment that does not produce greenhouse gases”. she explains. “We started our project at the start of the pandemic. With the lockdowns, we thought of ideas to become self-sufficient in food.

“The Jordanian capital, Amman, is a very crowded city and there are no spaces available for agriculture,” she adds. “Furthermore, not everyone is interested in healthy and organic food, due to lack of awareness and high prices. So we were determined to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of organic food.”

“I’m proud of where I got to today. We are about to start the first multi-production farm run by women in Jordan,” says Ms. Kreik. “We young people need to think outside the box and come up with new ideas related to environmental sustainability.”


Alaa Al-Hijazeen and Nourhan Al Gharabli, participants in a UNICEF/WFP youth innovation project in Jordan.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso

Alaa Al-Hijazeen and Nourhan Al Gharabli, participants in a UNICEF/WFP youth innovation project in Jordan.

Self-powered plants

Alaa Al-Hijazeen, a graduate in banking and finance, and Nourhan Al Gharabli, a student in economic intelligence, have launched a startup that produces self-watering and self-powered plants using a new type of hydrogel, composed self-absorbing polymers capable of transforming air humidity into pure water.

“Our goal is not to make money,” says Alaa, “but to leave an impact and change people’s lives. Climate change has direct impacts on food security, the air we breathe and the water we drink. We all need to act. »

“Our next step is to turn this idea into reality. And we plan to further explore environmental businesses. Our environment is a great resource and we can use it sustainably,” she adds.


Alaa Thalji, participant in a WFP/UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso

Alaa Thalji, participant in a WFP/UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

From skin to polymer

Agricultural engineer Alaa Thalji participated in the innovation training. His project involves recycling fruit and vegetable peels to produce a chemical polymer that removes 99% of heavy metals from water.

“I am an agricultural engineer, specialized in water treatment. I had the idea during my second year in college. I took a course called Environmental Chemical Pollutants, which taught us about the dangers that pollutants pose to our health, and another course called Drinking Water Treatment, where our teacher kept telling us that water containing heavy metals could not be used for consumption purposes.

So, I thought of the many water sources that we unfortunately cannot use, and started working on a chemical polymer that is organic and safe,” says Ms. Thalji.

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