Jordan concentrates more than half of its population in the continuous urban footprint formed by the municipalities of Amman, Russeifa, and Zarqa; but their planning efforts are not aligned among the cities, nor with other sectors. Congestion in the road connecting Zarqa and Amman, by passing Russeifa, is reaching historical peaks every year because employment opportunities are concentrated in central Amman, making the latter the worst area in terms of congestion. Land use planning does not relate to amenities nor employment location, neither to mobility strategies, like the BRT system that started its construction in 2016.
It was under this context that the municipalities used Urban Performance to:
- Analyze the benefits of building the BRT line connecting the three cities and compare them against a proposal to make the BRT cross through Russeifa instead of by passing it.
- Assess the expansion areas and land uses defined in their Master Plans and compare them versus compact growth strategies.
- Compare several distribution and size options for new public spaces, including turning the ex-phosphate dump piles in Russeifa into a park and recovering the River Zarqa.
Joint actions, like planning urban growth or employment hubs with structured transportation investments and public space projects yield the highest benefits. It was observed that developing small distributed parks and restoring the River Zarqa would benefit 37% more inhabitants than turning the ex-phosphate lands into a park because the area is already surrounded by parks; but also that adding a BRT corridor through Russeifa would benefit 164,000 inhabitants and allow this lands to be redeveloped into mixed uses zone to foster employment in the lagging area. These measures would bring the population closer to schools, sports facilities, and health facilities, benefiting around 800,000 inhabitants and saving around 789,000 tons of CO2eq per year by reducing the length of daily trips or by commuting via more efficient modes.
Additionally, the municipalities of Irbid and Mafraq also evaluated their own Master Plans and projects in Urban Performance.
Jordan was the first Middle-East country to implement this methodology and planning tool. In the voice of some key users, Urban Performance offered an innovative approach to urban planning:
“I see it very helpful as it is the first time that we come out with quantifying the effect of any project. Is coming into numbers and this is making it very easy for the decision makers to use this model before making major decisions in those areas.” Rima Odeh, Head of Comprehensive Planning, Greater Amman Municipality.
“I think this project made some kind of mind-shifting for me, when I compare my way of thinking before the project and after, they are completely different. I think in this project we have moved from the traditional urban planning, which depends on efficiency and some benefits, to balance urban planning taking into consideration the environmental aspect, social, economic, etcetera. This is inclusive urban planning.” Mohammed Zawahreh, Excecutive Director of Zarqa Municipality.
In June 2019 the project won the World Bank’s Vice Presidency Unit Award.