A new approach is needed to navigate the challenges of COVID and beyond

The ongoing challenges facing Jordan have been increasing recently as the number of COVID-19 cases has noticeably increased and the government appears to have no real options in fighting the growth of the virus after 12 months. Dealing with the pandemic requires more than just a health response, it requires a comprehensive plan for the whole country. After a whole year of continuous crisis, the government continues to apply the same lockdown and restriction approach as it did at the beginning of the pandemic, and we are yet to see progress on better solutions to manage the outbreaks, that do not also have disastrous effects on the economy.

Jordan had the opportunity to develop effective strategies to counter the pandemic, but instead militarised the management of the crisis rather than looking to critical and progressive options. The tolerance to harsh measures would only last so long, and when the people get to their limits, maintaining stability amongst the population will become a critical factor. After one year of hardships from illness, lockdowns and restrictions there is a distinct lack of socio-economic plan to address the serious impacts of COVID measures applied over the last year. We need more than the same old rhetoric, and while there is no easy solution in the short term, we must make a start now.

While clearly there are more options available now with the vaccines, but even that requires a successful coordinated national rollout in order to take effect. Continuing restrictions and lockdowns are creating more complex problems, as even if we successfully rollout the vaccine and move past COVID, we will be left with fundamental socio-economic issues that will not be easy to address.

What Jordan needs today is a government that takes into consideration a new concept of governance. People are not happy with government, this is the new trend, and will fuel new problems. So, it is important to anticipate the potential issues by offering solutions, as people will not accept the idea of paying for government’s mistakes, especially since people do not feel like they participate in those decisions even though they are asked to deal with its consequences.

Jordan’s economy needs reform through a progressive vision that takes into consideration the change in internal politics and attitudes of people. Jordan should consider a more effective strategy that takes the needs and desires of citizens into account. Recent developments and the whole COVID- crisis should serve as a wakeup call to the political leadership to reconsider the concept of national security that is not limited to technical security and border protection.

There needs to be a more progressive strategy with programmes that provide citizens with what they need and communicates a coherent narrative to develop our economy and communities. Only this will make policies more effective and meet the challenges that we face as a nation and as a people. A good start would be a national alliance between the private and public sector to accelerate the vaccination process, as time is a very decisive factor to find our way out of this crisis.

Dr.Amer Al Sabaileh