Amman, Jordan – On a trip to Jordan, Tami Longaberger, chair of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute and a member of IRI’s Board of Directors, and Judy Van Rest, IRI’s Executive Vice President, visited with the country’s youngest mayor, Marwan Ayasrah, who showed him what his administration in the municipality of Me’rad is doing to improve city services and management.
During their visit to Me’rad, Longaberger and Van Rest met with the Mayor, several municipal council members and members of the IRI-supported citizens’ committee to hear about efforts to increase citizen outreach initiatives. The Mayor then took Longaberger and Van Rest on a tour of the municipality, showing them results of the clean-up campaigns and facilities to provide care for disabled children.
At just 33, Ayasra was elected mayor in August 2013. He leads a community of approximately 65,000 people, and, due to the municipality’s small size, often doesn’t receive attention from the national government that the country’s larger municipalities do. In addition to being unrecognized nationally, a disastrous sewage project carried out several years ago by government ministries severely damaged both water and road systems in the municipality, leaving citizens disgruntled and requiring ongoing repair efforts.
Despite the challenges, Mayor Ayasrah is determined to improve the management of Me’rad and increase citizen involvement in community planning and decision-making, promising citizens to make up for that which he cannot accomplish with money by providing regular communication. “This is not easy work, but we must look for solutions,” he said. “You all are key figures. Be friends of the municipality. Contact your municipal councilors or me.”
Since his election, Mayor Ayasrah has partnered with IRI to develop ideas about how to improve service delivery and communications with citizens. He has focused on building connections with constituents by organizing and participating in clean-up campaigns in different districts within his municipality and holding town-hall meetings. At his first town-hall meeting, Mayor Ayasrah signed a pledge committing to focus his efforts on road building and maintenance, community beautification and improving street lighting – issues presented to him by the Me’rad’s citizens’ committee, stating, “Our budget is tight. We must focus on the main issues.”