Khotoutna is the first mobile phone application in Amman, Jordan that allows users to easily map out public transportation routes from one point to another in the city, and the story of how this app came to be is a testament to the perseverance and dedication of volunteers and climate activists. The app was launched by the Maan Nasel Campaign (“together we’ll get there” in Arabic) which has been active since 2014 and has been successful in engaging city residents, activists, and other stakeholders in improving the Amman public transportation system.
It is amazing to see how far the campaign has come since its inception in 2013 at Global Power Shift summit by two Jordanian activists, Omar Qubain and Hiba Al Rubi, who together with more 400 activists from around the world gathered in Turkey to learn campaigning skills and share strategies on confronting climate change in their own countries. Hiba and Omar developed a proposal for a campaign focusing on better and more accessible public transportation in Amman, to counter the rise in private car usage and road congestion, considering that the transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Jordan.
350.org partnered with Global Green Grants to support the different campaigns that emerged from GPS, and the Jordan transport campaign was one of such initiatives that merited support as it responded to a strategic and relevant local issue related to climate change. Hiba and Omar formed a group called Tahawul (“shift” in Arabic) and joined forces with another Jordanian group called Taqadom to bring the public transportation campaign to life under the name “Maan Nasel”. Volunteers were recruited to carry on working as part of the Tahawul volunteer group, and that is when Hana Bilbeisi came aboard and was handed over the campaign by Omar and Hiba, as they both left to pursue work, study and family commitments.
Hana has been instrumental in founding and pushing Maan Nasel forward, and bringing it to where it is now. So far the campaign has succeeded in creating public debate on transportation when previously there was none, has advocated for improving different aspects of the current public transport system, and has created a crowd-sourced map of transport routes in the city. Hana explains in her own words how the campaign functions, and the significance of Amman’s first public transportation app:
’Maan Nasel” took three different directions; advocacy, awareness and solutions for the public transportation system in Jordan. The solutions direction is what differentiates Maan Nasel from many other initiatives as it aims to solve a problem by creating a starting point for citizens to build on a foundation of solutions for improving different aspects of the transportation system. Khotoutna is the name of Maan Nasel’s solution, which started as Amman’s first printed map for the public transportation routes in the city. The map was further developed into an interactive trip-planning mobile application that guides commuters of what public transportation means to take in order to move from one point to another. Khotoutna addresses the gap of lack of public transportation information for the commuters, this gap is the main obstacle for people to adopt public transportation and is a major cause of wasting time and transportation inefficiencies for commuters.
Khotoutna, including the map and the mobile application, build on a database of routes collected by volunteers working with Maan Nasel under the slogan “from citizens to citizens”. It also provides a platform for citizens to develop technically and expand geographically.”
Even though Hana came onboard after the founding stage of Tahawul, her success in co-founding and nurturing Maan Nasel is a great example of how campaigns can grow and that all it takes is a few dedicated campaigners who “get it” and can carry the campaign vision with them while they strategize and implement. Hana had the following to say about her role in the campaign:
I feel very privileged to have been empowered by Global Power Shift – Tahawul in Arabic – to work on Maan Nasel and provide tangible and sustainable solutions to solve issues in the field of public transportation. Maan Nasel sets an example of community work in terms of strategy and delivery. Finally, I would like to thank our volunteers and partners who supported this effort as we could not have been able to move forward without their involvement.