Next Generation of Engineers Explores Climate Change Solutions in Jordan Refugee Camp

Climate change affects communities all around the world, including Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Roya, Waleed, and Abd Al-Malik, a team of three teenagers at the camp, formed the “Climate Change Challenge” team to find sustainable solutions to help their community.

two young refugee boys working on a climate change solution prototype

Youth from Za’atari Refugee Camp, supported by the Uplift team, designed a possible solution to address water scarcity in the camp.

The team works with two coaches at the camp’s Innovation Lab. The lab, part of our UNHCR-funded Uplift program for Syrian refugees, is an educational center focused on technology and design.

The team focused on an issue that affects both camp residents and communities across Jordan: water scarcity. Their first proposed project aims to reduce water loss in the camp by recycling greywater, reducing evaporation, and reusing rainwater. Next, the team hopes to find opportunities to make their water project a reality. They recently submitted their idea to a competition hosted by the Saïd Business School and Burjeel Holdings, making it to the semi-final round.

Emran, the Innovation Lab coordinator and one of the team’s coaches, interviewed two of the students—Waleed and Abd Al-Malik—to explore their inspiration, ideas, and experience on this project.

What inspired you to join the Climate Change Challenge team?

Abd Al-Malik: “Two years ago, I participated in a challenge at the Innovation Lab and had a great experience. I liked the place and felt I could learn a lot here.”

Waleed: “I joined a STEM training course at the Innovation Lab and learned problem-solving using engineering and science. I felt like it would be a great chance to implement what I’ve learned.”

What interests you about climate change solutions?

Abd Al-Malik: “I believe climate change solutions should be done to protect our scarce water resources at the camp.”

Waleed: “My dream is to become an engineer. For this climate change challenge, I was able to experience this feeling of thinking and designing real solutions.”

How did you contribute to the prototype/project?

Abd Al-Malik: “I came up with the simple idea of recycling greywater and reusing it for toilet flushing.  While discussing this with the team and my mentors, it became a bigger idea and we integrated this with the team’s ideas.”

Waleed: “My idea was simple at first, which was covering the surface of water bodies with a big blanket. Through my coach’s inspiration, I came to the idea of recycling water bottles to save water from evaporating. ”

Why is it important for young people to get involved with climate change solutions?

Abd Al-Malik: “It’s important to get involved to gain more experience and skills.”

Waleed: “Because the world and science are developing, we need to challenge ourselves. Addressing climate change is a big challenge and the youth should be involved in this as they are the engineers of the future.”

What was it like to be on the team? What kind of support did you get from your team members and coach?

Abd Al-Malik: “My teammates and coaches encouraged me to think bigger. I learned how to share ideas and combine different solutions.”

Waleed: “I love teamwork. Being here at the Innovation Lab and designing such a solution is a great honor to me. I am proud to be a junior engineer.”

What did you learn from working on your project?

Abd Al-Malik:  “I learned that water can be saved and used efficiently. And even as a young child, I can contribute to helping my community.”

Waleed: “I learned that engineers design solutions and the experiments that we did here are the key to finding such solutions.”

What’s your message for other refugees interested in science, technology, and climate change solutions?

Abd Al-Malik: “Don’t be afraid of learning or participating in new challenges. With learning and hard work, every challenge will be tackled.”

Waleed: “I encourage my friends in the camp to keep learning new things besides the things we learn at school.  Someday they will become something great.”