Syria: Humanitarian aid

Syria: Humanitarian aid

Eight years after it began, the war in Syria is far from over. The numbers are frankly staggering: an estimated 11.7 million people are in need of assistance, more than half of all people in Syria are food insecure, 2.1 million children are out of school, and over 50% of basic infrastructure in the country is non-operational or completely destroyed. The fact that 1.2 million people are now living in hard-to-reach areas, combined with the continued armed clashes in many areas, complicates the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The severity of needs is especially high in Aleppo, Idlib, Damascus, Rural Damascus, Deir-ez-Zor and Raqqa governorates. At the same time, the ongoing conflict is fuelling displacement on a scale rarely seen in human history: 6.2 million people are currently estimated to be internally displaced, with an average of 4,380 people forced to leave their homes each day—many for the second or third time. These multiple displacements, compounded by difficulties finding work and widespread physical destruction, have exhausted people’s capacity to cope with the prolonged conflict.

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Ongoing aid

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)

Water and sanitation infrastructures in Syria have been heavily impacted as a result of the war. Over one third of people have no access to drinking water, while electricity is either totally or partly unavailable in most places. Waste collection systems have collapsed in many areas, which threatens to contaminate sources of drinking water and dramatically increases the risk of outbreaks of disease like cholera and leishmaniasis.

Since 2013, People in Need has helped to restore public water wells and networks, construct water points and elevated water tanks, rehabilitate and extend sewage systems, build landfills, provide generators and renovate or install toilets and showers in camps and schools. We work with local authorities and contractors to carry out this work and improve the management of basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. Our cash-for-work programmes employ people to clear debris, renovate water networks and collect waste, thereby supporting rehabilitation efforts while at the same time offering vulnerable families a dignified way to earn an income.
 
  • In 2018, 661,605 people benefited from improved access to water as a result of our programmes
  • In 2018, we implemented 40 projects to improve water, sanitation or sewage services, creating a healthier, safer living environment for hundreds of thousands of people
Food security and livelihoods

Food security and livelihoods

According to nationwide surveys, 6.5 million people in Syria are in need of food aid, with a further 4 million people in imminent danger of joining them. A combination of factors – such as decreased productivity in local agricultural, the downward trend for imports, and the rise in prices as a consequence of the freefalling local currency – has imperilled internally displaced people and their host communities. Among other vulnerable groups are those living in areas of fighting, hard-to-access areas and refugee camps. Since 2012, the average price of one food basket has increased by almost 500%. In this worsening context, one of PIN’s priorities is the delivery of food aid.
As an immediate response after displacement, PIN provides the most vulnerable families with an initial emergency supply packet containing foods that can be consumed without heat treatment such as canned meat and vegetables, dates, biscuits and olive oil. This is followed by a second type of food packet containing enough pulses, flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, bulgur and rice to meet the needs of a family of six for an entire month. Food packets are distributed to internally displaced people as well as to the most vulnerable people from host communities in areas where availability of these foods on the market is limited.
People living in more peaceful areas with a relatively well-functioning market receive food vouchers. This allows them to procure more nutritionally rich foods (according to their own needs) than those found in the food packets. With this approach, PIN invigorates the local economy. For instance, farmers who supply fruits, vegetables, meat or eggs to local shops stand to benefit. At the same time, PIN is helping people resume their normal everyday lives by making it easier to get what they need when they need it. Around 9,000 families receive food vouchers from PIN every month.

Another type of assistance stimulating the local market is PIN’s “Cash for Work” programme. People can earn money through refuse collection, street cleaning and road maintenance or helping to restore water pipelines and power lines. Women are encouraged to participate in leisure time activities for children. By directly supporting those who have lost their sources of livelihood due to the war, the “Cash for Work” programme has proved very popular by assisting in meeting the basic needs of individual families. The money people earn is spent on food, rent or clothes. The average wage is around USD 4-6 per day or USD 120 per month, which is sufficient to cover 90% of daily food expenses. Short-term incomes prevent aid dependency and promote independence. Everyone who joins the programme can participate for three months. The programme fulfils several goals – it promotes human dignity, community empowerment and at the same time helps revitalise basic infrastructures. Most participants of the project are satisfied with the work provided for them and appreciate being able to contribute to the local community.

Production of flour, which is the basic raw material for baking bread and essential in Syrian cuisine, has dropped by 50% since the beginning of the conflict. This in turn has had an impact on bread prices, with the result that bread has now become unaffordable for many families. To support bakeries, PIN ensured that selected bakeries receive half of their total flour needs. This measure reduces the sale price of bread by half to make sure it becomes more affordable even for families “on the breadline”. Thanks to the support of PIN, up to 24,000 families are now buying cheaper bread every day.

The most vulnerable families – mostly comprising displaced families or people who have returned to war-damaged homes – receive cash to be used for purchasing food and other essentials.
PIN also supports small farmers. We organise trainings for them, distribute seeds and fertilisers that are generally not available on the market and provide farmers with vouchers for agricultural tools.
NFIs and shelter

NFIs and shelter

Around 4,380 people flee their homes every day because of the war, with most only taking with them whatever they can carry. PIN provides internal refugees (especially before the winter starts) with basic non-food items, such as mattresses, blankets, clothes, kitchenware, heaters, hygiene kits and insulation material. So far, PIN has helped more than 30,000 families.
At the turn of the year 2018/2019, PIN launched a project (co-funded by the American agency USAID) aimed at rehabilitating public institutions, including hospitals, and helping people renovate their own war-damaged houses. Once they meet the required criteria, owners can avail of building and insulation materials from PIN as well as technical advice. While owners themselves carry out the more minor repair and insulation works, building companies are hired for more complex reconstructions.

How else we help