The Syria Conflict: Global Communities’ Unique Approach to a Region in Crisis

The six-year Syrian conflict has to date displaced more than 6.3 million people and driven 5.0 million more to seek shelter in other countries as refugees. This represents over half the pre-conflict population of Syria.

Global Communities is committed to directly assisting the most vulnerable affected by the crisis while planning in the future for a sustainable recovery. We look at how to provide immediate relief while helping communities come up with localized solutions that build upon their resilience. Our Syria Response Strategy responds to the needs of refugees and the displaced across the region, in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. By carefully coordinating and communicating needs from country to country we are able to adapt our approach to the ever-evolving conflict.

Driven by our commitment to humanitarian principles, we bring decades of humanitarian and development experience to the people affected by this conflict. Our approach goes beyond handing out goods. We engage with communities and Syrian organizations in the region to help Syrians fleeing their homes to cope with the enormous demographic shifts that have taken place, adapt to their new lives and livelihoods, and build resilience. We provide protection to the most vulnerable in this crisis wherever they shelter for now. We do this with a focus on dual accountability – to the communities whom we are committed to helping and to the donors who trust us to use their resources wisely and effectively.

The Resilience Approach

The intensity of the Syrian conflict varies across the country, with some areas in active conflict, some in relative calm, and others in a state of flux. Populations are displaced, sometimes more than once, living either in camps or with host communities. Understanding the variety of conditions is key to knowing who is most vulnerable, and is required for an approach to humanitarian assistance building on the beneficiaries’ resilience.

Food Security and Agriculture

Since our work in Syria began in 2014, we have focused heavily on food security and agriculture, providing small-scale farmers with seeds, tools and animal livestock to help them raise food that they can feed their families or sell in the local market. Prior to the crisis, agriculture accounted for 80 percent of employment in Syria.

With an investment of about $300 in farm tools, fertilizer and seed, a small 1-2 hectare plot can yield a net income of $1,200 – enough to sustain a family through the winter months, or to provide cash for to purchase school books, pay medical bills, or purchase extra seed for the next years growing season. Last year, 750 households planted winter crops that included wheat, winter vegetables, lentils and peas. We are also supporting agriculture in camps, researching and advising on the types of crops best suited for kitchen gardens.

Now, Global Communities is using electronic vouchers with a QR code for beneficiary verification in our provision of goods, empowering people to make their own choices of which vendor to select, as well as supporting local economic recovery. In besieged areas, Global Communities is looking to use the same methodology for provision of shelter and non-food commodities.   

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

In our work in WASH, our preference is to rehabilitate community-level infrastructure which helps supply thousands of people with access to irrigation systems and a sustainable supply of safe water for consumption and hygiene.  

Shelter

In the case of shelter, we distribute kits for displaced families on the move, but prefer to increase the housing stock by rehabilitating homes in host communities. To make this kind of approach work, it is vital that we target recipients of assistance carefully and engage the community from the start of the project, so we can undertake 100 percent verification of the people receiving assistance and reach the most vulnerable where applicable.

Syria: Dual Accountability to the Vulnerable and our Donors

Global Communities takes accountability to the communities we serve and our donors with the utmost seriousness. We use GIS technology to have real-time knowledge of what assistance has reached which location and been received by whom to ensure the selected beneficiaries receive the correct assistance. Our Beneficiary feedback mechanism uses multiple forms of We have multiple open lines of communication – Facebook, the project website, WhatsApp, Viber, email, skype, phone lines and more – to ensure that information is freely available and that any problems can be confidentially and quickly resolved by our Beneficiary Feedback Mechanism under our compliance department, as well as a third-party monitoring company to review program quality, satisfaction of those receiving assistance and that Global Communities is reaching the targeted people.

At the heart of this accountability approach is clear and frequent engagement with stakeholder communities – host communities, displaced people, camp residents and so on – so that they understand who the assistance is intended for, what assistance is available and what is not, and that those who are selected based on the strict criteria to receive assistance are those most in need for that service. Global Communities, whether in long-term development or conflict scenarios, engages with the communities as partners for good.

Protecting Women, Girls and Children

As women and youth are particularly at risk in the crisis, Global Communities builds protection of these populations into our work with refugees and the displaced. Some Syrian children are unaccompanied and separated from their families, have suffered physical harm from injuries sustained in the conflict, and some have endured forced child labor or direct participation in the armed conflict. Child marriage, kidnapping, and domestic violence are ongoing threats.

In Syria, we established Child Friendly Spaces, a Youth Empowerment Program center, and a Women and Girls Safe Space, all of which conduct outreach activities within the camp setting to raise awareness on important issues identified by residents such as unsafe conditions, health problems, and social issues. The Child Friendly Spaces establish safe spaces where young children can engage in recreation, psychosocial, and informal education activities. The program is also providing psychosocial services to children at five schools. In Turkey, in partnership with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), Global Communities, through our Turkish partner and approved by a Government of Turkey authority, provided vocational training to vulnerable Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees, with a particular focus on women and youth.

Over the last year, Global Communities has:

  • Provided 17,330 emergency shelter kits to conflict- affected households, improving the living conditions for over 104,6902 Syrians, both Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and host communities.
  • Delivered gardening inputs to 1,500 displaced families (over 8,813 individuals), enabling them to plant small gardens and grow a portion of their own food, reducing their dependency on emergency food baskets;
  • Supported 3,903 small-scale farmers and their families (over 29,380 individuals) by providing urgently needed agricultural supplies, enabling farmers to grow wheat and vegetables to recommence their economic livelihoods and provide nutritious food for their families.
  • Distributed to 550 female-headed households two pregnant sheep each and five months of fodder.
  • Delivered 25 liters of water per person a day for the camp of 70,000 people via 300 chlorinated water trucks.
  • Dispatched sanitation trucks to clear waste from communal latrines (169 cleaned per day), and trash pickup (43 cubic meters per day).
  • Distributed 5,000 consumable hygiene kits (soap, etc.) per family of six every 45 days and 15,000 durable hygiene kits (mops, buckets) every six months.
  • Planned to repair and clear debris from 17 km of irrigation canal to the benefit of 100,000 farmers. This is to be completed spring 2017.