PIN’s Cash for Work program has already helped more than 1 930 families in Syria
Despite the current refugee crisis, the overwhelming majority of Syrians remain in their country as the situation continues to deteriorate. In addition to providing immediate material and food aid and supporting schools and farmers, Czech NGO, People in Need, supports communities in building resilience. The "Cash for Work" program funded by ECHO (European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department) has been directly implemented in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idleb since April 2015.
People in Need’s (PIN) Cash for Work program is intended to directly support those who have lost their sources of livelihood due to the war. PIN distributes the appropriate tools to the participants who are then tasked with various types of work including: removing waste from the streets; repairing roads; rehabilitating sewage and drainage systems; and restoring water pipes and electricity networks. In three months of work the participants earn enough money to cover their basic living needs.
"The team leader discussed the tasks with the local council and at the beginning of each week he informed the team members with their tasks and the duration that they need to finish the job. In case they don’t have any experience they would ask professional workers for consultation," describes Oburj Alnumra, one of PIN’s Cash for Work program beneficiaries.
The first round of this program, funded by the EU, ran from April till the end of June 2015. It employed 500 men, providing a source of income to 500 families. The second round ran till the end of September and employed a further 537 men. In addition to this, 107 women were given an opportunity to participate in leading extracurricular activities with children under the age of 8. They also provided the children with psychological support in an attempt to encourage their healthy development and offer distraction from the war. The program further expanded its reach in the third round, which ran through till the end of December, employing another 616 men and 174 women.
"There is a great interest in work for our project among locals," evaluates Vladimir A. de Lima, PIN coordinator of humanitarian aid in Syria. "We selected family members, not involved in food aid or food stamps, with an income of less than 10,000 Syrian pounds. In the first income the earnings represent 900 Syrian pounds per day and in the second income 1,000 Syrian pounds per day. People usually buy food at local merchants with the earned money, or they spent it for the rent and clothing," he added.
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Almost all of the participants have said that they are satisfied with the work provided to them and that, given the opportunity, they would like to continue with the work. In addition to providing sources of income to families, both the workers and the local councils appreciate that the work done is beneficial for the community. Keeping their village clean, for example, is necessary to prevent disease outbreaks.
The Cash for Work program is one of the most significant forms of humanitarian aid in areas affected by crisis. In other countries of the world affected by natural disasters, local communities assist in the cleaning of debris and waste, in return for which they receive money to support their families. The aim of such programs is to facilitate communities gaining their independence from long-term humanitarian aid as fast as possible and to support local merchants and the local economy at the same time.