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"GIVE ME AN AXE INSTEAD OF FIREWOOD"

workers from one of the IDP camps paving the roads

CASH-FOR-WORK PROJECTS REPRESENT A LIFELINE FOR HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES IN NORTHERN SYRIA’S IDP CAMPS 

After losing their own properties, lands, and livelihoods to the war, hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians were forced to flee. In northern Syria, already suffering from resource scarcity and limited job opportunities, it is even harder for displaced people to find income-generating employment.  

“Give me an axe instead of firewood” is the rallying cry of tens of thousands of displaced people seeking any source of income to support their families and improve their living conditions. While the cash-for-work model is relatively new, it is becoming increasingly common in post-conflict environments. 

Cash-for-work programs are also considered effective solutions by the international institutions and humanitarian organizations committed to securing decent livelihoods for displaced people even as they strive to provide urgent responses to the urgent humanitarian needs in the camps. Offering income-generating work and a path to future employment is a practical action that also empowers its recipients.  

For these reasons, BINAA for Development has utilized the cash-for-work methodology within several of its vital humanitarian and relief programs launched in IDP areas. These projects include camp paving, the provision of clean drinking water, facility maintenance, and other vital services that BINAA provides in cooperation with partners and donors. The overarching goal is to improve living conditions in dozens of camps in northern Syria.  

BINAA t has utilized the cash-for-work methodology within several of its vital humanitarian and relief programs launched in IDP areas. The overarching goal is to improve living conditions in dozens of camps in northern Syria. 

In the Bahorta camp, in northern Aleppo, 18 workers living in the camp participated in a BINAA-launched project to pave the camp’s roads. This was a crucial project, necessary to alleviate residents’ suffering due to the accumulation of mud and rainwater into their units. The 18 participants received training on road paving methods and the Bahorta project was fully completed in February 2021. BINAA launched two similar projects in Idlib, employing 80 workers in Al-Jabal camp, and 27 workers in Al-Amal camp. 

Additionally, BINAA for Development is forming clean-up teams responsible for the collection and disposal of garbage in 143 camps in Idlib and its countryside. Some 350 camp workers will receive compensation for maintaining sanitation within their camps.

cleaning workers carrying garbage to dumps outside the camps

As part of the same project, BINAA is distributing seven million litres of clean drinking water daily to the residents of these camps. For this purpose, the Organization employed 106 workers to monitor the quality of the water and ensure its safety. BINAA also selected 22 workers to carry out maintenance works for the bathroom blocks and sanitation facilities in these camps.

BINAA’s cash-for-work programs are not limited to service projects. The Organization is launching projects aimed at developing professional competencies and skills and expanding job opportunities for target groups. In this context, Binaa established two sewing workshops in Al-Jabal and Al-Amal camps. These workshops will employ and provide professional development opportunities for 24 workers (14 in Al-Amal camp, and 20 in Al-Jabal camp). 

sewing workshop will provide work opportunities to camps residents

The common denominator of these programs is to mitigate the impact of this widespread humanitarian crisis on Internally Displaced Persons and their host communities in northern Syria. These programs focus primarily on departing from the standard of traditional charitable donations to helping IDPs secure real jobs that allow them and their families to meet their basic needs, while working in projects that have a tangible and direct impact on their communities.

The trainings commissioned as part of these projects are key to their success. In most projects launched by BINAA for Development, camp workers receive professional training related to the project or service. Thus, trainees acquire skills – useful for obtaining future employment – as well as remuneration for work. 

These projects also inject funds into the local economy. When camp workers can generate an income, local commercial activities – the suppliers, service providers and small businesses in these areas – also benefit. 

Participants in these cash-for-work programs consistently express satisfaction with having a source of livelihood and an improved ability to meet their food and basic needs  

Rajab Abdulsalam Al-Jadou, a resident of the Al-Tah camp and a participant in the cash-for-work program, was hired as part of the team carrying out garbage collection and disposal works in the camp. Rajab said: “When BINAA announced it was recruiting cleaning workers in the camp, I applied. I was chosen, thank God. Now I can wake up and go out to buy bread for my children, If I had been unemployed all this time, my children and I would have had nothing to eat.”   

"Now I can wake up and go out to buy bread for my children, If I had been unemployed all this time, my children and I would have had nothing to eat,” -  Rajab Al-Jadou, a resident of the Al-Tah camp

In the Bahorta camp, a worker carrying out camp paving describes the necessity of the project: “The paving works will alleviate the suffering of the people here. Water will be drained, which will prevent mud build-up, which means that the roads in the camp will be passable, tents will be dry... and the children will finally be able to go out to play and go to school.” 

He added, “I joined the project because it will help my family and my neighbours. It also enables me to make money to support my children and my family.”

BINAA for Development applies several criteria for selecting the beneficiaries of its cash- for-work programs. These criteria consider the competencies and the needs of the beneficiary families, particularly families in which the primary breadwinner is unemployed, or the family is supported by a woman. As well, families that include elderly persons or  persons with disabilities among their members are prioritized. In addition to providing expertise and skills, the training programs feature other important elements such as occupational safety and social distancing measures in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with other prevention and safety requirements.