Fact Sheet

Project Overview

Jordan hosts a vast number of archaeological sites that serve as important cultural heritage resources (CHRs) for the country. Many such sites are located within underserved areas outside of Amman, presenting the opportunity to develop local economies. However, currently many of these sites cannot live up to their potential as tourist desinations or windows into Jordan’s rich history because their host communities often lack the capacity and resources to capitalize on these sites’ tourism potential. Local communities and visitors alike miss out on the opportunity to capitalize on these hidden gems. 

USAID’s Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP), implemented by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), aims to enable communities to preserve CHRs and market them as tourist destinations domestically and internationally. This is achieved through site development projects that engage communities in preserving, managing, and promoting these sites in a manner that ensures their viability as long-term resources.

In close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Department of Antiquities, SCHEP builds skillsets, knowledge, and tools that adhere to best practices in site preservation and presentation, sustainable promotion, and management. Working with stakeholders that include archaeologists, tour guides, Jordanian university faculties, government officials and the host communities of CHRs, SCHEP works to build and strengthen a collaborative community of practice that convenes regularly to merge tourism promotion and cultural heritage preservation. Simultaneously, SCHEP works with key tourism promotion stakeholders to increase the visibility of specific sites, with the ultimate goal of increasing tourism and bringing economic benefits to the communities surrounding these important sites.

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  •    Providing small-scale grants to specific cultural heritage projects in Jordan that will conserve cultural heritage, create employment opportunities, and give back to the host community.

  •  Building a strong Jordanian heritage community of practice by increasing best practices in site preservation, conservation, management, and tourism promotion through workshops, course work and practicums with hands-on experience in CHR development.

  • Creating relationships between relevant governmental departments, institutions, and professional associations to improve preservation and protection practices as well as marketing sustainable tourism of Jordan’s CHRs.



  •  Supporting nine CHR sites including Ghawr as-Safi (Karak), Busayra (Tafila), Umm al-Jimal (Mafraq), Bir Madhkur (Wadi Araba), the Temple of the Winged Lions (Petra), Bayt Ra’s (Irbid), Al Khaz’ali (Wadi Rum), Ayla (Aqaba), and Madaba.

  • Engaging host community members in CHR promotion and management. Nearly 136 individuals, including local youth, have received hands-on training in CHR best practices across the nine SCHEP sites.

  • Creating jobs and improving the type and quality of employment for CHR host communities. Thus far, SCHEP sites have generated 78 employment opportunities in rural areas. By 2018, SCHEP expects to create 650 community-based job opportunities around CHR sites, with a focus on youth (75%) and female (47%) employment.

  • Creating the Jordan Heritage Consortium (JHC) to facilitate communication and collaboration among Jordan’s cultural heritage professionals. The JHC’s initial meeting brought together representatives from the government, universities, and foreign institutes to discuss key challenges and areas of cooperation. The JHC will be officially launched during 2017.

  • Completing comprehensive assessments to support CHR capacity building and training for the staff of the Department of Antiquities, as well as the faculty members and students of Jordan’s five public universities.

  • Supporting the establishment of Sela for Vocational Training and Protection of Cultural Heritage, the first community-based nonprofit of its kind, focusing exclusively on local training in cultural resource management.

  • Launching the Training Diploma in Archaeological Surveying in cooperation with the Hashemite University, an accredited and intensive vocation training program to bolster capacity within the Petra Archaeological Park and the Department of Antiquities.

  • Organizing a cultural heritage curriculum for more than 450 students across Jordan in cooperation with HM Queen Rania’s Madrasati Initiative and the Department of Antiquities. The students, who were 30% female ranged from 4th to 6th grade in nine schools in Ghawr as-Safi, Karak, Amman, and Irbid.

  • Awarding 15 scholarships to high-achieving students in Jordanian universities and 8 SCHEP Site Stewards to attend the prestigious 13th International Conference on the History and Archaeology of Jordan. The students, who are majoring in archaeology, tourism-management, and related fields were be able to network and learn from leading professionals in their respective fields. SCHEP also supported the efforts of the Department of Antiquities to host the week-long international conference in May 2016.