Mohammed Abu Amerah

Ashoka Fellow
Amman, Jordan
Fellow Since 2010

Citation

This profile was prepared when Mohammed Abu Amerah was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Mohammed is promoting a sense of community ownership, which increases both the residents’ sense of belonging and responsibility; his motto for the initiative, “Our Harra, Our City, Our Country.” Through communal physical rehabilitation projects, the inhabitants of the neighborhood start developing a sense of belonging defined by common space, and through collaboration in those projects social networks are created and new bonds are cultivated superceding ethnic and tribal allegiances. To improve the livelihood of the Harra, Mohammed organizes capacity-building and educational programs where neighbors exchange skills and resources, and form consumer and trade cooperatives which leverage the collective purchasing power of the neighborhood.

The Harra Initiative, which Mohammed founded in 2005, is currently in its pilot stage in the Jabal al-Joffeh region of Amman, Jordan. Mohammed’s Harra is a unique initiative in the Levant region, and has wide-spread relevance in the Arab World. Mohammed envisions Harra as a communal development model for developing countries, particularly when community erosion is the result of unplanned, rapid urban expansion, re-establishing a balance between urbanization, environmental health, communal well-being, and neighborly cooperation.

Mohammed is currently planting the seeds for more harras by identifying and training change agents; natural leaders who are dissatisfied with the status quo. Following this step, he will expand throughout Amman, then Jordan, and then into other Arab countries. While others are working in the field of community development, none involve the community in the development process to the same extent. In addition, unlike some other organizations, Harra started entirely as a grassroots effort, independent from the government and without the need of funding. It is the only initiative to work on building a social infrastructure by strengthening communal ties, and build more independent, self-reliant communities, committed to their own social development.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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