MAKING WINTER MORE BEARABLE: RESIDENTS OF BAHORTA IN THE IDLIB COUNTRYSIDE PAVE THE ROADS OF THEIR CAMP.
Life in Northern Syria’s IDP camps is notoriously difficult, highlighting the pressures of displacement and the absence of basic living conditions. The already dire situation in the camps is exacerbated by the advent of winter; rain and storms bring additional hardships to the camps’ residents, leaving behind uprooted tents, pools of mud, and yet another chapter of suffering.
The Bahorta camp in the Idlib countryside is typical: with the onset of the rainy season, the camp’s unpaved roads and grounds become muddy and impassable. Rain, water and mud seep into the units, rendering them nearly unliveable.
The camp was recently established by BINAA for Development. It consists of 215 housing units sheltering 1229 IDPs in northern Syria, including 343 children, whose feet are covered in rain and mud as they go to school.
The BINAA for Development team initiated a road-paving project for the camp, which included training a group of camp residents in the basic skills of paving. This pavement project is part of the cash-for-work program, which means that residents receive a wage in exchange for carrying out work in the camp.
Hussam Muhammad al-Aswad, a camp resident who participated in the pavement project, describes the camp’s condition during winter: “The soil in the camp is agricultural red soil. When the winter season comes, mud starts to accumulate heavily. Children cannot walk outside, and it is difficult to use cars or other forms of transport, such as motorcycles, on the roads. People here suffer a lot in the winter. The paving works will alleviate their suffering greatly. The water can drain, mud will no longer accumulate ... Finally, the children will be able to go out, play and go to school.”
The soil in the camp is agricultural red soil. When the winter season comes, mud starts to accumulate heavily. Children cannot walk outside, and it is difficult to use cars or other forms of transport, such as motorcycles, on the roads. People here suffer a lot in the winter. The paving works will alleviate their suffering greatly. The water can drain, mud will no longer accumulate ... Finally, the children will be able to go out, play and go to school.
“What also encouraged me to join the project was that it will help me secure an income to support my children and my family,” he added,
On his role, Abdul Kafi Jahjah, a field engineer from BINAA for Development, said that “the project needs workers to implement it. BINAA has chosen to cooperate with the camp’s residents to complete the project and selected a group of qualified workers who have the ability and skills to learn and perform this type of work. After conducting the appropriate evaluations, we were able to choose 18 workers from among the camp residents.”
Hassan Abu Mutair, a project manager from BINAA for Development said: “for us, the successful implementation of this project will help us achieve several goals at once. First, the project addresses a pressing and vital need for camp residents. Second, participants can acquire new skills that may help them secure a job in the future and, last, participants, along with their families and neighbours, can immediately see the results of their labour. This reinforces the project’s message, which is that if we work together and plan properly, we can change our circumstances, however difficult they may be.”
Abu Mutair is a member of BINAA’s team that is coordinating the efforts to complete the project with high technical specifications, by encouraging workers to comply with safety measures – in particular, social distancing and hand sterilization, and other measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 – as well as the preservation of the environment in all stages of work. These measures are an essential part of the project participant training.
For the majority of the project’s participants, securing a job is a vital goal in itself. Many have lost their livelihoods; as such, the road paving project can give them the necessary skills, and a bit of hope as well, to find work in the future.