European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Helping Syrian families with the 'Cash for work' programme

Men work on rehabilitating sewage and drainage systems, as part of the cash-for-work programme of People in Need. © People in Need

Despite the fact that the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the overwhelming majority of Syrians remain in their country. In addition to providing immediate material and food aid and supporting schools and farmers, Czech NGO People in Need supports the Syrian communities in building resilience. The 'Cash for work' programme funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has been directly implemented in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Idleb since April 2015. Through this programme, more than 1 930 families have been able to earn a living to provide food and clothing to their families, and pay for rent.

Monika Tichackova, Communication officer, PIN @people_in_need

People in Need’s 'Cash for work' programme in Syria is intended to directly support those people who have lost their sources of livelihood due to the war.

People in Need distributes the appropriate tools to the participants of the programme 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 of their tasks and the time that they need to finish the job. If they didn’t have any experience they would ask professional workers for consultation," describes Oburj Alnumra, one of the 'Cash for work' programme's beneficiaries.

The first round of the programme, 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 heading extracurricular activities with children under the age of eight.

© People in Need

They also provided the children with psychological support in an attempt to encourage their healthy development and offer distraction from the war. The programme further expanded its reach in the third round, which ran through till the end of December, employing another 616 men and 174 women.

"We selected family members, not involved in food aid or food stamps, with an income of less than 10 000 Syrian pounds (approximately €48). The first earnings represent 900 Syrian pounds per day and the second earnings 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," says Vladimir A. de Lima, coordinator of humanitarian aid with People in Need in Syria.

"There is a great interest in taking part in our project among locals," – Vladimir A. de Lima.

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' programme 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 programmes 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.